Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Obtaining & Maintaining Eye Contact

This may seem an obvious thing to say, but unless you can obtain good eye contact with your child, you will not accomplish much in the way of teaching. If I had £1 for every time I have said 'look at me' in my job, I'd be a very wealthy woman!

It is sometimes not easy to get the child to look at you however, and short of physically taking their head in your hands and pointing their face at yours - not really a satisfactory way of doing things for either of you, and no guarantee you can get the child's eyes to look your way - you can be left floundering as to how to get a result. I have found over the years that the trick is to make yourself as interesting as possible - if that means making funny faces, silly noises and generally making a fool of yourself (see previous post!), then that is what you have to do. I'm actually quite a quiet person, but at work you wouldn't know it as I sit there making puppets talk in funny voices, making loud sound effects to emphasise signing, and generally being noisy and conspicuous. It does work though, and the more the child you are working with looks at you, the more they will absorb in the way of language, signs, behaviour.

This is particularly relevant when working with younger children - they respond so much better to an attitude that is positive and outgoing. By the same token, your praise and disapproval should be large and exaggerated - if the child does something that you have been trying to get them to do, make your praise as huge as a human ticker-tape parade. Clap and cheer and wear a big smile. If they misbehave, frown your hardest and pretend you are distraught. Until they understand about nuances in vocal tone, this is the best way to get your meaning across.

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