From Our House to Yours
Face to Face Communication with Eye Contact
My husband and I go on a date each week, and we usually end up at a restaurant. Socially distanced, we were still close enough to a young couple to realize they were on their first date. They had some awkward moments, which one can expect on a first date. However, what made things really awkward was their devout attention to their phones. For the entire date, they were talking, texting, and watching YouTube on their phones, separately. They almost missed the waitress stopping by to take their order. The whole date, they looked down… at their phones, at their food, at their napkins on their laps. The only time they made eye contact was when the waitress brought the bill. Both glanced up from their phones and quickly settled the bill. Awkward. Face to face communication with eye contact cannot be overrated.
Using Face to Face Communication with Eye Contact in Homeschooling
I recently was visiting with another homeschool mom who said her son disliked “Talking Points” oral narrations. When I asked why, her answer surprised me! She said he disliked looking at her. In World History the Talking Points directions say to Meet with an adult to share your talking points. Sit facing the adult and informally share your points. The adult should actively listen and withhold questions and comments until the end. Her son didn’t want to sit facing her. In fact, he preferred looking down and sitting far apart. This student had no special needs, but rather just disliked communicating face to face. She blamed gaming, and I agreed. However, we also both agreed her son would need to acquire these skills, and she made a great plan to help him start doing so the very next Talking Points narration. I can’t wait to hear about his progress!
Taking Advantage of Face to Face Communication with Eye Contact Opportunities in Heart of Dakota
Heart of Dakota offers ample opportunities for students to use face to face communication with eye contact. Oral narrations begin in Little Hearts for His Glory and continue all the way through high school’s U.S. History II. Younger children or older children who are new to narrating may need more practice before making eye contact. However, the more children narrate, the more comfortable they should become at making eye contact. Eye contact need not be constant, but it should be a natural part of narrating. Likewise, Socratic Worthy Words discussions, DITHOR project presentations, Speech presentations, parent/student discussions, etc. all offer opportunities for students to hone their face to face communication skills. As homeschool parents, we can help by actively listening, by not interrupting, and by being encouraging. We can also help simply by expecting them to work on this skill.
Using Face to Face Communication with Eye Contact at Restaurants
Once or twice a month, we try to treat our sons to a meal out. We have done this from the time our children were little. Through the past 20 years, we have noticed a change in the children we see eating out at restaurants. There is less and less face to face communication. In fact, many children’s eyes are glued to their media devices the entire time. Parents even order their food for them. I am not passing judgment on children who use media devices nor on parents who allow them to! Rather, I am saying that there are times outside of homeschooling I believe our children need to be expected to use face to face communication. This is just practicing good manners.
When waitresses come to our table, we tell our sons to look them in the eye and speak clearly. They are responsible for ordering their own meals and for making their own requests. We also tell them to be polite – to say “please” and “thank you.” We expect them to talk face to face with one another and with us. If they do pull out their phones, it is just to show something quickly to each other. We then expect them to put their phones away.
We’ve come a long way in being successful with making eye contact and using face to face communication!
Today, our sons readily make eye contact and use face to face communication inside and outside of homeschooling. I remember talking with each of our sons about the importance of eye contact. Likewise, I remember fledgling, hesitant oral narrations that have now blossomed into purposeful, confident oral narrations. We’ve come a long way!
I remember my husband telling my sons when they were little that one of them would have to ask the waitress for the free refill the restaurant provided of cotton candy. None of our sons would ask. They begged us to ask. We wouldn’t. Near the end of the meal, one of them worked up the courage to ask. Boy was he the hero!
Last month, due to social distancing, our sons had to sit separately from us at a restaurant. As my husband and I were paying the bill, the waitress told us how nice it was to wait on our sons’ table. She couldn’t believe they looked her in the eye, used their manners, and stayed off their phones – all without us as parents even being at the table with them. Yes, we’ve come a long way! Praise God for progress!
My husband’s employer was recently conducting interviews. He told my husband he chose to hire the person who dared to look him in the eye! The other interviewers stared down at their hands, off out the windows, or even worse – they actually answered texts on their phones – during the interview! Oh my. Dare to be different! I want to encourage you to expect your children to develop skills in face to face communication and in making eye contact. Just by using Heart of Dakota’s plans, your children will be well on their way to success! This is not a homeschool problem; this is a problem all children are facing today. The extinction of face to face communication skills is at hand. Let’s do our part to ensure they live on – at least in our own children!