Speaking with Clarity and Precision

The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and lightning bug.

Mark Twain

Yup, ya, nope, uh huh, like, um, er, ya know, uh, … Sound familiar? When we feel confused or are searching for the right word, we may use place holders such as these. But this type of language may leave a listener confused, searching for meaning and more information. 

At Almond Acres, we believe communication skills are just as essential as phonics and multiplication tables. Our tuition-free public school explicitly teaches students how to be powerful and effective communicators. It’s just one of the ways we grow great kids

An Almond Acres student holds up a book to show an image. There is another student in the background also holding a book.  Both students are wearing green Almond Acres uniforms.

One of the first steps to effective communication is a wide vocabulary. Diverse vocabulary gives our brains the ability to describe what we really want to say. With the right word, we can be precise and clear. We can help expand childrens’ vocabularies by exposing them to a variety of literature, ideas and languages. 

When your child uses unclear universal phrases such as always, never, all, or everybody, you can ask a question that will probe for specifics. This can help develop self-awareness in their own speech patterns and help them clarify vague statements. We can also help children speak with precision by modeling clear language and asking our children to say “yes” instead of “ya.”

Language and thinking are closely intertwined; when we use precise words we also minimize cloudy and fuzzy thinking. Clear, precise language builds effective thinking skills and helps children to be stronger decision makers, problem solvers, and investigators. 

Here are a few practices we can develop to help our thinking be more clear: 

  • Practice before game time. When we front load our brains with what we ought to do before we run into an issue, we are much more likely to do the next right thing. 
  • Chill. Developing a physically calming behavior such as deep breathing, counting, snapping fingers, praying, meditating, or remembering the sensations from a special moment will slow down our emotions and allow us to think more clearly. 
  • Seek first to understand, then be understood. Listen intently to the real message/issue and then use clear language to voice your concern.
  • Discipline – Speak with Good Purpose! We have the power to choose our thoughts. Redirecting our children’s language from negative to positive can be accomplished with this simple phrase, “speak with good purpose”. 
Two Almond Acres students work together on a project at a table in a classroom.  One student is wearing a green uniform and the other is wearing a yellow uniform.

The next time you want to know how your child’s day went and you want a response other than, “fine,” ask questions related to productive intellectual and personal habits. You can question their heart, mind, body, and soul:

  • 🔵 Heart – Who did you eat lunch with? Who did you act kind to? What was an example of you thinking win-win today?
  • 🟡 Mind – What book did you read today? What is the habit of the week? How did you practice math?
  • 🔴 Body – Where did you play at recess? In what way were you proactive? What was the most delicious part of your lunch?
  • 🟢 Soul – Why are you happy today? What was the best moment of the day?

Communicating directly, honestly, clearly, and with positive purpose will transmit truth, kindness, and love. When words build someone up instead of putting them down, our relationships become stronger and we are happier and healthier. Just because we might have negative thoughts, it doesn’t mean we have to speak them. If what we want to say isn’t going to produce a positive or productive result, it’s probably not worth saying. Restraining our impulsivity and using our wisdom to turn on the “pause-itivity” button will often turn a bad situation into a good one. Speaking with good purpose is the cornerstone of healthy relationships. It fosters a positive emotional environment where people are happier, more productive, and more likely to succeed.

Interested in learning a little more about positive communication in your life and parenting? We’ve attached a few links below to take your learning further. We also have lots of examples of our K-8 teaching practices on our blog. Check us out! 

Learning Links

How to Think and Communicate with Clarity and Precision

20 Embarrassing Phrases Even Smart People Misuse

How to Speak so that People Want to Listen

Seven Tips for Practicing Positive Discipline

5 Steps to Putting the Brakes on Back-Talk

About AACA

Almond Acres Charter Academy is a public, tuition-free K-8 school that employs credentialed teachers and administers state-mandated testing to provide families in northern SLO County an additional choice in public education. Located in Paso Robles in a newly built, state-of-the-art facility, AACA is open to all students from all communities. AACA’s mission is to help students succeed academically and socially by educating the whole child: heart, mind, body and soul. We grow great kids! 

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