Speech and Communication in the Primary School
WHAT DO SPEECH AND COMMUNICATION LESSONS OFFER?
The Speech and Communication mission is to develop confidence and strength through effective communication, promoting success in future endeavours. The program is centred on the principals of effective communication and the ultimate aim is to build confidence and clarity through the art of public speaking and elocution.
Lessons include a range of vocal exercises, performance games and activities as well as offering AMEB examinations and eisteddfods. The program is differentiated from a speech and drama class as our focus is on communication, public speaking and elocution rather than theatrics in a fun and non-pressure environment.
Communication is becoming an increasing part of the school environment, whether it be performing on school assembly or an oral assessment. To give students confidence in speaking in front of their peers and the best start in becoming confident communicators it is necessary to foster a healthy understanding of presentation from a young age.
Speech Education helps to satisfy most a variety of needs in students, as it aids;
- Self-expression through talks and oral language games
- Physical activity through mime and acting
- Social sense through discussion
- Imagination through poetry-recital
- Intellectual curiosity through questions and answers
- Rhythmical movement through activity rhymes
- Awakening desire for adventure through news, story-telling and reporting
Groups are particularly valuable in large classes, because they give the individual more opportunities for speaking and teach them to co-operate with others
Specific activities will include:
- Question and Answer à elongate questions, to avoid comprehension style responses à in order to allow child to express their own ideas in a way different to one’s own
- Discussion à lively interest in subject, enlarges child’s field of knowledge, training in clear thinking, coherent expression of ideas, teaches respect for the opinions of others, helps children to know each other, their environment and interest, encourages cooperation.
- Talks à impromptu, for younger years, or prepared for older children à poise in spontaneity, expression in prepared material
- Conversations à stimulated by games, practising an everyday art form à visiting or birthday situations à dramatized conversations,
- News à personal, family, school, district, national, world, subject newsà more aware of life outside of school à opportunities for self-expression, controversy, group discussion
- Story-Telling à expanding or contracting tales based on outlines/full stories à recreation of well-known tales
- Creative Story Telling à exercise of imagination, give children two to three characters, places, send them off to form a story/perform one
- Instructions à good basis for explanation, mime, running commentary,
- Oral Précis à oral summation form of comprehension following a talk, activity or story
- Courtesy à introductions, welcoming visitors, thanking speakers, etc. true courtesy is far deeper, involving personality and attitude. Teacher must be absolute model.
An important issue occurring in speech and communication teaching is the concept of fear and nervousness in the child. Here are some simple steps that can be implemented at home to encourage the dissuasion of this fear:
- Build self confidence in a child bymaking unpressurized time to talk with them. Many of us talk to or talk at a child. We give instructions like ‘Clean your teeth’ or ‘Pick your toys up’. This type of communication is very different from talking To talk with implies you are actively making room or time to listen to their side of the conversation.
- Another simple way to build self-esteem is toask open-ended questions. These require more of a response than a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Try asking ‘why’ or ‘how’ to elicit extended answers.
- Get down to their level.If they’re sitting on the floor playing, get down with them. This reduces the gulf between big and powerful, small and insignificant.
- Avoid doing the talking for a child.Sometimes as adults it’s easy to assume spokesperson status habitually. The child learns that you’ll do all the talking for them and they don’t have to try. They also learn you’ll do it better than they can anyway. In doing the talking you rob them of practice time. Give it back to them. Even though you may have to wait for them to find the right words at times, know you’re helping!
- Build self confidence in a child throughmaking a point of praising their speech and correcting mis-pronounced words non-judgmentally. ‘Good on you for trying xxx (said correctly) word. It can be tricky. Let’s say it slowly together.’
- Play lots of language games. (These are great for car journeys.) Examples: Alphabet ‘I spy’:I spy with my little eye something beginning with a, b, c, d , Rhyming word-chains: words starting with or ending in the same sounds. Example: cat, mat, fat, flat, sat…Or flat, floor, flood, flew, flop…
- Read stories aloud daily.When they’re very small start with stories built around repeating phrases and rhymes. If you read the same story frequently enough, your child will begin ‘reading’ it along with you. Miss bits and they’ll correct you. Talk with them as you go about the pictures. Get them to tell you about what’s happening in them.
- Singing songs.Get your child singing along. If it’s a favorite you can take alternate verses or take turns making up songs about whatever is going on around right now. Pick a well-known tune (‘Old Macdonald Had a Farm’ is good.) and have fun. I remember our son enjoying variations like, ‘Our Big Boy James is putting on his boots, e, i, e, i, o. He puts his right foot in and wriggles it around, e, i, e, i, o’ …
- Read poetry aloud.Children love the sounds of poetry and will readily imitate them. Try nonsense poems, fantastical poems, or ones with a strong beat full of words sounding their meaning. Your local library will have anthologies in the Children’s Section. Ask for help if you can’t find them.
- Encourage ‘talking time’ at the dinner table.Make sure each child has a turn, is listened to, and not interrupted. If need be put a time limit in place for the one who goes on and on! When they’re finished, paraphrase what you heard and respond.
- If your child has difficulty speaking clearly and you’re worried it could be a physical problem, get it assessed sooner rather than later.The problem may lie in their hearing or the formation of the physical organs and body parts needed for speech. Specialized therapists will do a superb job of advising the right way to address the matter. If you allow a speech fault to establish, they become harder to stop.
- Going to a local play-group or kindergartenwill definitely help build self confidence. They’ll learn in a protected safe environment to interact with people outside of their family circle.
- Take your child when you go visiting or shopping.It doesn’t have to be all the time but enough for them to learn to feel comfortable in new situations with new people.
- Teach your child simple good mannersand expect them to use them as a normal part of daily living. Making their own requests politely and thanking people for things or services received will build esteem and is a valuable first step toward solo public speaking.
- Model good listening and speech. A child learns from those closest to them. If you don’t listen or speak well, it becomes more difficult for the child to develop the confidence to do so.