Do your kids love public speaking?
Can you picture your kids being up on stage talking and presenting?
Do you picture your kids being good leaders one day?
How many hours a week, or a month or a year, have you spent in building public speaking skills with your children?
Running a clinic with multiple doctors and staff requires my wife and me to review countless resumes and interview many people. Many people flunk their interview within seconds simply because they were either not able to hold eye contact, were overcome by anxiety, or were not able to think critically under pressure when answering questions.
Glossophobia is the fear of public speaking, and it is one of the most common phobias in the world. Whether people realize it or not, their career and life decisions are often decided by their public speaking skills. Some people may choose to pursue a career where they will interact with many people daily. Some may choose to do the opposite, where they will work in private, or have less interaction with people. If your kids learn to speak in public today, they can prepare themselves to speak properly in public, and to manage the fears of presenting in front of others for the future. To put it simply, your children’s future careers may depend on these skills.
We all want our kids to do well when they grow up. We want them to be confident enough to be on stage, especially when God opens doors for opportunities to influence others. We want them to be leaders. Our family intentionally decided to invest in public speaking skills and stage presence skills when homeschooling them on a daily basis. I’d like to share some ideas you may find useful in your homeschooling journey.
There are three benefits of memorization. The first is emotional health benefits. Remember that the brain is a muscle that must be exercised. There is a part of the brain called the hippocampus which is in charge of making and keeping memories, and partly responsible for managing emotions. People with Alzheimer’s disease have their hippocampus fail first and severely before other parts of the cortex fail. People with depression, bipolar disorder, and schizoprenia have a hippocampus that shrinks gradually. The hippocampus also is now known to control the hormone estrogen, which controls emotions and mood changes.
By training yourself and your kids to memorize things, it may prevent you and your children from depression, anxiety, mood changes, Alzheimer’s, and other mental illnesses!
The second benefit of memorization is, as your children spend time memorizing passages, tables, and poems, they learn to focus. Studies have found that students who were required to memorize from an early age often go on to have more capacity to focus on educational tasks as high school and college students. Researchers from the National Institute on Health and Aging have found that adults who went through short bursts of memory training were better able to maintain higher cognitive functioning and everyday skills, even five years after going through the training. Practicing memorization allowed the elderly adults to delay typical cognitive decline by seven to 14 years!
The third benefit is increased confidence. When a child learns to do something difficult, they earn a great sense of accomplishment. This is especially true where plays or presentations are concerned; children often receive praise or even applause after they recite a poem or act in a play, which increases their self-confidence and feelings of self-worth.
Start with a simple task such as memorizing short Bible verses. This is something you can even do with a two-year old. Ask them to do it while standing up before meals and during morning and evening worship times. Ask them to keep their eyes focused on you and to speak clearly with a smile on their face. I make it more personal and understandable by modifying some of the Bible verses so they can understand the meaning of them. Here are 12 simple verses that you can use for each month of the year or the first six months of the year (two verses a month, depending on your child’s ability to memorize):
- Numbers 6:24 The Lord bless you and keep you.
- Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart.
- Matthew 5:14 You are the light of the world.
- Ephesians 6:1 Children, obey Mommy and Daddy in the Lord.
- Matthew 28:20 Jesus said He is with me always.
- John 10:11 Jesus said He is the Good Shepherd.
- Philippians 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!
- Psalm 136:1 Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. His love endures forever.
- Philippians 4:13 I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.
- Luke 6:31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.
- Psalm 56:3 When I am afraid, I will trust in Jesus.
- James 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above.
Some kids who are kinetic learners will find it easier and enjoyable to memorize Bible verses while doing an activity such as running in circles, hula hooping, dancing to a song, doing signs or hand gestures, etc. Make sure to repeat these verses daily during dinner time or worship time.
Older kids can start memorizing a whole chapter of a Bible or a long passage. Have them present to you during morning or evening worship, or in the middle of homeschooling session in between subjects. Even better, parents should also memorize these passages and maybe even do a competition with the older kids!
This will not only help them understand important spiritual lessons, but also help their brain cells to handle large amount of information which improves their cognitive functions. Here are a few ideas of important Bible chapters or passages that older kids and adults should memorize:
- Numbers 6:24-26
- The Ten Commandments – Exodus 20:1-17
- The Beatitudes – Matthew 5:1-12
- The Lord’s Prayer – Matthew 6:5-15
- Psalm 23 & 46
- 1 Corinthians 13
- Romans 8 & 12
REGULAR GIGS, AWARDS, AND REWARDS
As mentioned previously, when children receive applause and praises, their sense of self-worth and confidence are also increased. Even better, treat them with rewards or awards every so often.
- Have them present what they just learned from science or history lessons in the morning to the rest of the family during evening meal. Ask them open-ended questions: “What did you learn about amphibians this morning? What did you learn about the Egyptians today?”
- Morning and/or evening worship times are perfect for them to present a Bible verse or chapter.
- Have the kids present what they memorize in front of church as part of the worship program or Adventist Youth program.
- Challenge other kids in their Sabbath School class to memorize verses and passages as well, and have them present during church service.
- Have your kids present their school project or what they learned this past week to their grandparents or family friends when they visit.
- Make a calendar with goals of which passages to memorize for the month and for the rest of the year.
USING VISUAL AIDS AND PROPS
Just like with a science presentation, help your kids with their speaking presentation using visual aids and props. I have been invited to be a judge at the local schools’ science fairs, and it’s always interesting to watch how some kids with average project can shine because of their public speaking skills, while some kids with average or amazing projects end up not winning because of their presentation skills. Younger kids can start with simple objects, while older kids may use slideshow software or props.
Have your children be involved in a play at church or school where they get to do speech as a character. Preparing for a role, and preparing visual aids and props — both of these activities teach them to be prepared for their presentation in advance, which will help lessen their anxiety.
JOINING A PUBLIC SPEAKING CLUB
Toastmasters International or other local groups are often found in local libraries or churches. Look up Toastmasters International to find a local chapter. You’ll be surprised how much you and your older children can benefit from attending this weekly meeting of various people from all walks of life who simply want to improve their public speaking skills. They will give you constructive criticisms, and they will help you to be a better speaker.
Our children at the time of this writing, are eight and four. They do fairly well being up on the podium or on stage with other kids at church or at a dance recital. However, they still have some stage fright when they are up there by themselves. They are getting better at it, though. The oldest one actually recently asked when she could do special music all by herself. And, both of them enjoy doing mini presentations during evening dinner from what they learned in the morning.
I hope this article is helpful to you and your little ones. We have the responsibility to train our children to be pillars of the church and to be leaders wherever they go in life. Leaders are not necessarily bosses. Leaders are influencers. Everybody is a leader when you can influence others around you. With the Great Commission as our task, we must equip our children with public speaking skills to reach others and to spread His love.