Friday, February 25, 2011

Tip 18 -More Teen Talk & Right Brain Games

There was a great response to the last Teen Talk post so here are a few more ideas from those of you who read this blog to get your teens talking to you while buillding their language and social skills.

The lyric game --ages 10 to 16 - Here is another song game you can play on long car rides suggested by Dan Roeder.  Pick a common word (girl, boy, happy, green, etc) then take turns saying or singing lyrics of songs with the target word in one of the lines. To get credit for a song, a game player has to give at least a few lines in the song. This is a great way to work on rapid recall of words and sentences. It is also a fun way for teens to share their song preferences. You can of course make ground rules, like no 'swear' or 'cuss' words or no lyrics that are derogatory toward a gender or ethnicity.

The Translator Game - ages 10 - 14 - This is a party game suggested by Rebecca Floyd for pre-teens that builds the ability of one player to communicate without words and the other player to speak in clear, well organized sentences  One person volunteers to be the "translator", the other is a visitor from outer space.  The visitor from outer space tries to communicate something without understandable words. He or she speaks in complete gibberish with gestures, facial expressions and tone of voice. After a few "sentences", the visitor stops and the "translator" has to tell everyone what was said. You can suggest a location or a goal, for example, "the visitor from outer space meets you in a shopping mall and appears to want information on something to buy".  In addition to building nonverbal communication skills, this game helps the translator read non-verbal communication cues as well as interpret them using well organized words and sentences. Rebecca states that she has actually had some children who are acting as the "translator" speak to the "foreigner" in gibberish to "ask" for clarification. You can join in the fun with your teens by volunteering to be either the translator or visitor from time to time.

The Freeze Game - ages 14 - 18 - Also suggested by Rebecca Floyd pick a setting ( for example a birthday party for the high school principal;  the carpool to school after a late night party the night before, etc.) and select two teens to start improvising the scene. The adult in the group is the "director" and either says "freeze" or changes the setting or situation to take the scene in a different direction ( for example, the principal leaves suddenly but a teen from a rival school shows up, or the the car pool decides to go to a parade instead of school) . At any time the director can say "freeze" and the actors must freeze in the pose at that moment.  The director can then tap either one of the frozen players who must continue the scene, usually taking it into a different direction - with that variation, the other partner has to infer where the other person is going with their change.

Why?  Did you know that the teenage years are an exceptionally important time of brain growth -- a second critical period? During critical periods the brain is changing rapidly to prepare the teen for the adult world they will enter soon. Although critical periods offer a time of opportunity to channel brain development along productive avenues, it also means the teen is very vulnerable to environmental pitfalls as well -- drugs, alchohol, and negative peer influences. That means it is essential parents keep connected with their teens as much as possible.
All of these teen games help parents keep communication channels open with teens while at the same time building important language and communication skills. Games like these encourage teens to abandon their video games for awhile and enjoy the company of their friends in an interactive way. Building the ability to communicate both verbally and non-verbally develops important communication skills that will be beneficial as teens enter adulthood.

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