Communicate Like a 2nd Grader

17 04 2012

Photo credit: The Pioneer Woman

Remember the popular television show, Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?  You know, the one Jeff Foxworthy hosted where contestants were asked trivia questions based on basic subjects for Kindergarten through 5th grade.  There may have even been a few “you might be a redneck if” jabs in there as well, thanks to Foxworthy’s knack for finding humor in nearly everything.

As you might recall, I recently had the opportunity to participate in a read-aloud activity at a local elementary school in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day.  Don’t remember or haven’t read the article?  Here you go: Leaving a Legacy.

I’m getting somewhere with all of this, I promise…

Before I began reading my tale of leprechauns, shamrocks and pots of gold, the class of 19 2nd graders had the chance to quiz me in a Q&A format.  I got some great questions.  Some were basic as expected, but some really surprised me. All of them got me thinking that those 2nd graders had figured something out: communication in its simplest form.

Here’s what I’m talking about:

2nd graders know what to say upfront.  They needed answers and by golly, they were ready to ask questions!!  Not everyone did, though.  One little boy was so shy that when called upon, he forgot what he was going to say.  Unfortunately, we never had the chance to go back to him later.

Lesson: Prepare your questions in advance.  The students knew I was coming a few days before.  Some even had a list of inquiries ready when I arrived.  Guess what?  The students who prepared the most got their questions answered!

2nd graders get to the point.  Have you ever heard someone ask a question that is so complex that you find yourself thinking what exactly they were asking in the first place?  Keep it simple.  The students didn’t have a huge story in front of their question.  Instead, they got down to business, bombarding me with all kinds of questions from my favorite color, dog, number, etc.

Lesson: Don’t over-complicate things.  Get to the point without too many fluffy words, complicated vernacular, or unnecessary detail.  Keep it simple.

2nd graders are curious.  Everything fascinates them.  They want to know why the sky is blue, why the grass is green and why you can’t really dig a hole to China from the U.S. (technically, if this were possible, you’d end up somewhere in the Indian Ocean – that’s IF you were able to get through the Earth’s nickel-iron core and it’s 9800-degree heat.)  Not only does this knowledge come in handy during a festive game of Trivial Pursuit, knowledge like this is also helpful when striking up conversation with a complete stranger.  The more you know, the more likely you are to find something in common!

Lesson: Be curious.  Ask questions!  Life is full of wonder and surprises at every turn.

I’m sure you’re wondering what kinds of questions the kids asked me.  Well, I won’t disappoint you.  Here are some of the highlights:

  • What is your favorite color? (Blue)
  • What is your favorite number? (I said 27, but my wife reminded me it’s simply 7 – we were married 07/07/07! :))
  • What is your favorite dog? (Notice they didn’t ask my favorite pet – just dog. My answer? Long-haired Chihuahua. Had to give mention to @furrybrwndog!)
  • What is your favorite shape? (NEVER in my life have I ever been asked this, nor really contemplated the question…my answer was triangle. No idea why I said that.)
  • Do you like your wife? (Of course I do! After all, she IS the teacher. I learn from her all the time!)

What lessons have you learned recently from kids?  I’d love to hear from you.  Please leave a comment below.

Have a great week and as always, thanks for reading.

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