Teaching the art of joke-telling is a healthy and happy way to develop communication skills.
Every week I share a joke with the 1st and 2nd graders at our school library. The students keep a journal of the jokes and their answers. I also always invite the students to share jokes of their own.
The 2nd grade teacher recently thanked me for getting the kids excited about reading, in particular for their excitement about reading joke and riddle books. She said, “They just can’t get enough jokes or joke books. It’s fun to see them laugh and try to tell the jokes.” It is great to see my silly habit of sharing jokes is contagious.
When kids tell jokes, they are able to laugh at themselves and their message. Too often kids are hounded with seriousness. If we can use humor to educate and provide experience, we can inspire happier learners.
I have given speeches and had opportunities to be a public speaker for most of my life. When I started public speaking in 5th or 6th grade, I learned that the best trick for breaking the ice was to tell a joke first.
- If you can tell a joke, and tell it well, you can speak to anyone.
- If you can identify where to add inflection or pauses, you can communicate a message.
- If you can identify where to add inflection or pauses, AND make your audience laugh when you want them to, you can communicate anything.
Today I have the privilege of helping others become successful speakers, but more importantly I have the challenge of developing successful communicators. Telling jokes is a terrific way to develop communication and speaking skills.
Think about it.
If a six year-old knows to pause and interrupt appropriately in this joke:
Speaker: Knock. Knock.
Audience: Who’s there?
Speaker: Interrupting cow
Audience: Interrupting (Speaker interrupts with “MOOOO”)
That same six year-old can easily learn when it’s okay to listen and when it may be necessary to interrupt.
My funny, four year-old loves the joke:
Speaker: Where do cows like to go on the weekends?
Speaker: To the moooo-vies
He understands the importance of inflection and the play on words. Maintaining a strong grasp on vernacular and word usage makes for a strong communicator at any age.
This last week the journal joke shared with my 1st and 2nd graders went like this:
Speaker: What time is a good time to go to the dentist?
Audience: What time?
Speaker: At tooth-hurty
The kids loved it. They enjoyed the punny answer and even more the funny ways you could say the answer. The 7th and 8th graders, who passed our Joke Board, couldn’t resist having a good time with pronouncing and delivering the punch line.
Joke telling is a healthy way to teach communication. Here are a few reasons I hope you will work joke telling into your daily communication and lessons with your children.
- The understanding of timing, pauses, and breaths between words and lines
- The understanding of importance when it comes to pronunciation and mispronunciation
- The understanding of inflection and intonation
- The understanding of assumption and inference
- The understanding of puns and idioms
- Usage of seriousness, sarcasm, and humor
- The ability to laugh at one’s self and one’s message
Put some Intentergy into telling and teaching jokes to your kids. Telling a few jokes to your co-workers and friends is also a great way to start and enhance conversations. Don’t knock joke-telling when it comes to being a serious form of communication. Remember to keep your jokes funny and kind. Leave out the hurtful, derogatory, or discriminatory ones. Let your punch line deliver a wallop of laughter and communicate positive puns with humor to your audience.
By: Melanie A. Peters
P.S. Why did the ghost ask to be moved to another seat?
He wanted to sit by his goul-friend