Strategies for Developing Students’ Communication Skills

Students walking next to each other in classroom discussing material in notebook

Effective communication is a skill that not only enriches academic performance but also shapes success in various aspects of life. Developing strong communication skills is especially critical for students with learning and attention differences, such as ADHD, who also have executive function challenges. Here are some strategies to help students improve their communication and executive function skills.

Structured Outlining and Organizing Thoughts

Before students start a writing assignment, ask them to create structured outlines to organize their thoughts. This practice helps improve executive function by breaking down tasks into manageable steps, aiding in planning, sequencing, and initiating the writing process. Tools like mind maps and graphic organizers can serve as effective outlining aids.

Use Assistive Technologies

Integrating assistive technologies, such as ChatGPT, can be a game-changer for students who manage executive function difficulties. ChatGPT, an AI-powered chatbot, can help students formulate ideas and generate initial drafts — fostering confidence in articulating thoughts and enhancing communication skills.

Role-Playing and Debates

Engage students in role-playing exercises or debates to nurture their ability to express opinions coherently. These activities not only improve verbal communication skills but also encourage critical thinking and quick decision-making, key components of executive function development.

Constructive Feedback and Practice

Encourage an environment where students feel safe to practice communication skills. Offer constructive feedback that focuses on improvement rather than criticism. Engaging in regular practice sessions, discussions, or presentations helps students refine their communication abilities while honing executive function skills like attention, organization, and self-regulation.

By integrating these strategies into the classroom, educators not only enhance students’ communication prowess but also fortify their executive function abilities. Effective communication becomes a gateway to success, and nurturing these skills equips students to navigate academic and real-world challenges more confidently.

  • Caitlin Vanderberg, M.Ed., SMARTS Associate

SMARTS Executive Function Curriculum:

Research Institute for Learning and Development: