Wanted: Must Have Communication Skills

When employers want to fill a job, they start with a stack of resumes. Looking at credentials, degrees, schools, experience, awards, and affiliations, they make two stacks; one goes in the recycle bin, while the other stack represents the people worth interviewing.

Our community's economic future is influenced by our children's language skills! Tweet this!

Typically, it’s in these job interviews that careers are made, and communication skills make all the difference. A candidate has good ideas, but how well does she articulate them? Another has a rare degree from a good university, but can he facilitate a meeting or lead a team?

Language and communication learning begins early in humans. New science indicates it begins even before birth, while a baby listens to the world outside the mother’s womb. Even in the first year of life, before a baby says her first words, comprehension is growing, grammar rules are learned, social cues are being deciphered.

People who become good communicators as professionals began their lives with a good foundation, built by exposure to lots and lots of language. Articulate kids are talked to, read to, and engaged with by their parents and caregivers. It’s experiential learning, and the experiences that fuel it begin far before kindergarten.

To make the most out of Memphis’ next generation of professionals, our community needs to support programs that create ways for young children to interact with language. All of us have a stake in the economic future of the Mid-South, so let’s get young children exploring language when and where we can. Here are some ideas about how to help.


Donating time, money, and resources to groups that promote language development makes them able to reach more and more kids, with better programs and content.

Shelby County Books from Birth

Support this important program, which mails a book a month to enrolled children for the first five years of life. Even small donations make a big impact on the program’s reach. Visit their website to donate, or explore other ways to give your time and energy to the cause.


The Memphis Public Library System, and the libraries of surrounding communities, create a web of safe places for families and children to explore language in books, at storytelling sessions, and on the web. Libraries can do a lot with even your smallest donation, but they also love visits from storytellers, readers, musicians, mentors, and tutors. Spend some time getting to know what is needed at your local library, or perhaps better yet, find a neighborhood with less access to resources and put your time and money there.

Children’s Theatre

Theatre is a wonderland of language, delivered with razzle dazzle and magic. Non-profits like the Playhouse family of theatres, Voices of the South, Hattiloo Theatre, TheatreMemphis’ ShoWagon, and many more offer programming for kids. In many cases, funding by sponsors and donors helps them do as much as possible at no cost to the audience.

Small acts

There are also less formal ways to help get words and ideas in front of kids. Donate a stack of books to a neighborhood daycare. Or fill a small pop up library kiosk with books the next time you see one in a neighborhood near you.

Volunteer to read to kids at a daycare, pre-K school, library, or church group. Find an outlet in your neighborhood, or visit another neighborhood and spread the word.

Mentor at a schools, whether down the street or across town.

Visit a school or children’s program for career day or a cultural demonstration. Maybe you have unique job or life experiences. Kids will love hearing and learning from these real-life stories.