I’ve read that public speaking ranks as the number one fear in the minds of a majority of people in America, even over the fear of death and disease. With so many classes and careers in life that require public speaking, I aim to expose my children to public speaking roles early in their lives so that talking in front of an audience becomes second nature to them. To ensure they get lots of practice, I’ve added weekly presentations to their homeschool schedule this year, and I’ve found a way to introduce this new assignment in both a fun and educational way…with MAGIC!
The Melissa & Doug Deluxe Magic Kit comes with 10 different magic tricks for the kids to practice and learn. Each week my children pick a new trick to perfect, and I give them a public speaking goal to focus on, such as speaking clearly, standing still, or making eye contact with the audience. The kids practice their magic trick until they are able to perform it well, and then they work on their stage presence by performing in front of stuffed animals or the family pet until they have worked out all the kinks. When it’s time for their “official” presentation, they present it to our family. (We also talk about and model the skills of a good audience during our presentation times!) To extend the audience, we also encourage them to present to friends and family who are visiting, or to extended family via Skype. Other venues for presenting could be a play group, a homeschool co-op, a family reunion, a talent show, or at a parent’s work.
Our experience so far has been that the kids can’t wait to start practicing their new magic trick for the week, and their presentation skills are definitely improving each time. They are becoming less shy when speaking, and most excitingly, I’ve noticed they are more social with other children at the playground since we started these presentations, so I know the skills they are learning are transferrable to — and valuable! — in their real lives.
When we finish with our magic tricks, I plan to move on to joke telling and book talks as presentation topics. Once the kids have a good handle on what a presentation is, we’ll open up their weekly assignment to be a topic of their own choosing.
While we are introducing presentations to kids in a homeschool, this method can easily be adapted for any setting be it school, home, or otherwise. The benefits of teaching kids to be comfortable speaking in front of an audience can have a very positive long-term effect, so start early and give them lots of opportunities!!
Running out of magic tricks to present? Try this:
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Genny Upton is the author of In Lieu of Preschool and Parent Teach Play. She is a former teacher who shares activities she does with her own two children at home. Visit Genny today at InLieuOfPreschool.com and ParentTeachPlay.com, on Facebook at In Lieu of Preschool or Parent Teach Play, and on Google+. Don’t miss her family-friendly Pinterest boards!