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Module 3 - Communication - Having Great Chats

Last week, we looked at how we can create the best learning environments for children while they’re learning from home. This week, we think about how to make conversations flow more easily in our houses and the importance of great listening skills. For more modules and topics go to our online learning page.


Most of us like to think we've nailed the art of talking to other members of our family. But science shows that it's harder than we think. Even if you would give yourself a 9/10 for chatting, there's always room for improvement. Watch these film clips to find out how...

Introduction to Having Great Family Chats

We're not saying that you're a rubbish listener (that would just be rude!) But we are saying that, when you're busy trying to work from home and teach the kids, you may not be listening as carefully or as empathetically as you could. From her bathroom, Sarah Creegan offers some help.

A Tale of Two Mishaps!

Doing two or more things at once can lead to a multitude of multi-tasking mishaps. Have a giggle at Victoria’s expense as she divulges some of her own faux pas whilst juggling too much. Understand how our brains really adapt to working under pressure and make the decision to focus on one thing at a time.


Read time approximately 5 minutes. At home, children aren't ever going to listen as well as they do in school - sorry! But, if you want to know a couple of teacher-insider-tricks, to get a class of 30 kids to pay attention, then have a read of these top tips. There are ideas for the adults too!


The key to having great family chats is all about listening to each other, with interest and empathy. But good listening doesn’t come naturally to any of us – it’s a life skill that we learn (some of us better than others!)

Here’s how to help children

  • If you ask your child which part of the body we listen with, they’re likely to say ‘ears’. Which is, of course, true! But we can help them to understand that great listening involves lots of other body parts too. Search ‘whole body listening’ for some helpful posters.
  • To avoid confrontation and to keep situations calm, school staff regularly use visuals. These show children the type of behaviours they’re expecting to see. If your little one is tugging your sleeve and asking questions, while you’re having a video chat with colleagues, a ‘Please wait’ flashcard would come in handy. Laughology’s friends at Twinkl.co.uk have made thousands of these resources available to parents at this time.

For the adults

  • Did you know that a mobile phone doesn’t even have to be switched on or that near to us, to distract us? If you want to listen to your child without constantly glancing away, leave all electronic devices outside of the room.
  • As I said in the introduction video, while folks are talking to us we’re thinking about lots of other things. If something pops into your head, while you’re trying to pay attention to your child, write it down on a piece of paper. That tells your brain that it’s okay to stop reminding you and will give you a bit more headspace.
  • It can sometimes take children a while to say what they’re really thinking. If we’re busy trying to work from home, it can be easy to show frustration, jump to conclusions or fill in the gaps, without giving them the chance to finish their sentence. Patience is a virtue at any time, and especially now. If yours is running thin, remember to STOP! – PAUSE, for as long as it takes – RESPOND.
  • You may find that your child is less chatty at the moment. Being in the house together 24/7 might just mean they have less to say, or it could be that they’re struggling to explain how they’re feeling. The only way to find out is to ask! To avoid scatter-gunning your child with questions which might overwhelm them:
    • Prepare them by saying, ‘Let’s have a chat this afternoon about how things are going. Have a think about anything you want me to know.’
    • Make time and find the right place to get the conversation going. Where would they be most comfortable?
    • Ask open questions starting with How, Where, What, When, Which
    • Take away the pressure by saying, ‘Tell me more about…’ instead of asking ‘Why?’
    • Listen and look out for anything that’s not being said. This might be a change in their tone or their body language. Say, ‘I noticed you sounded angry when you spoke about not seeing Gran…’
    • Acknowledge their feelings, but then reassure them with facts. ‘We can’t be with Gran yet, but she’s safe, we can have video chats with her and when lockdown is over we will…’


To practise your chatting skills as a family, why not try these activities. Laughology's Ed and his mate, Sensible Ed, are challenging you with another Thunk. The downloadable lesson plan sees Bungee Barb in a bit of a disagreement with her mum and dad - and this was written before lockdown! Wonder how they're getting on now…

Ed’s Thunk: Can you have a conversation with an invisible friend?

With so much on our minds at the moment, being able to talk about things is so important. So this week’s Thunk is, can you have a conversation with an invisible friend? We might not have our friends and family so readily available to talk to so can an invisible friend fulfil that role instead?

Activity Sheet: The Story of Bungee Barb

Download this lesson plan and the story of Bungee Barb, so that everyone in the family can practise getting their opinion heard, listening to others and showing support. Then use what you've learnt, next time you feel a family row coming on.

Coming up...

With thoughts tentatively turning to a return to school and work, our next learning bursts will all be about supporting children's and adults' mental health and wellbeing, both during the transition and in the new normal. Remember too, that there are lots of other resources for coping on the website.

Free virtual workplace learning & development classrooms. Register now.

big chat about mental health logo


Are organisations and companies just paying lip service?
Join some of the most interesting and respected voices in positive psychology for our Our Big Chat about…Thinking outside the tick box, inaugural webinar. Our two and half hour interactive event will look at the best mental health strategies for organisations, identifying what works and what doesn’t.

Dave McPartlin:

Dave is the Headteacher of Flakefleet Primary School.
Creating the right environment for people and communities to flourish

Sunita Hirani

Sunita is one of the BBC’s key equality, diversity and inclusivity experts.
Why inclusion is essential for mental wellbeing

Professor Sir Cary Cooper

Cary is one the world’s most influential voices in occupational health and wellbeing.
Enhancing Mental Wellbeing at Work. Evidence based strategies for creating a wellbeing culture at work.

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