Just how do you go about writing a speech for younger children that have not learned to do it for themselves? How can you guide them into being able to eventually do it for themselves? There are always so many ways to approach something and if you have something that works for you that is different than me – great! But for those that need some direction, that wonder where to start, I will share what has worked for me.
For our upcoming Middle Ages Homeschool Speech Co-op Day I have 5 children giving speeches. Their ages are 3, 6, 11, 14 & 17. The older ones wrote their own speeches, including Serenity (age 11), but Audrey (age 3) and Justus (age 6) needed help. Now Audrey does not have to give a speech but she wants to and asked me one day if I had her speech ready yet. So I had to come up with something. I settled on the subject of Chess and wrote her out 3 sentences. She also has 2 pictures to show the audience. That was one easy speech to write – once the topic was chosen. Now all that’s left is practicing those 3 lines with her everyday to help her memorize them.
Justus is in the early stages of learning to read so how is he supposed to give a speech? It’s easier than you think. One of the books we were reading together was Coat of Arms by Catherine Daly-Weir and Jeff Crosby. It’s a very simple book and easy enough for little children to understand. I made sure that Justus was in the room when I read it to the other children. He also agreed that he would like to give a speech on Heraldry so I told him to be sure to pay attention so that he would know all about it.
After several readings of the book, we were ready to write Justus’s speech. The first thing I do is decide where we need to begin. In this case we wanted to begin with the duties of Heralds a 1,000 years ago. I then asked Justus what Heralds duties were. He tells me what he knows and I write it down. If he needs some prompting I will do that, too. Then we move on to the next point we want to cover with me asking him what he knows about it and writing down what he says.
The above step is so important. I have heard children give speeches that were completely above their heads because the parents did the writing and expected the child just to say what was written. Most times, with the final speech, there is still something not quite right about it. The child is unable to read it (or recite it without much help ) because they have been unable to make the speech their own. When a child can tell you back what he has learned (does this sound familiar?) as they do during an oral narration it becames his own. It’s information he possesses – not just what mom has learned and wrote down.
When the child “owns” the information for himself, he is able to share it with others without being so tied in to a written speech. Sure he needs an outline or even an actual speech to direct him from point to point, to keep everything in continuity but the words are his words. The understanding is at his level. Besides, there’s something really cute about children’s words even when everything is not said perfectly.
The other problem when a parent does most of the writing is that they want to include any information they(the parent) learned in the child’s speech causing it to become overwhelming for the child and usually too long.
Okay, so now what am I’m going to do with Justus’s speech since he is unable to read for the most part? I put his speech to pictures. I was a little apprehensive about the time it would take for me to put his speech on Heraldry to pictures but was pleasantly surprised at how quickly it went.
This is page 1 of his speech.
When he looked at it he wondered what in the world it was all about but once I explained each picture (and many of them repeated themselves) it was no problem. Because the information had become “his own” he was able to see the pictures and know what he was talking about. His speech is near 3 minutes long. Sometimes in his speech he may not be grammatically correct but that doesn’t bother me a bit. I think it adds to it. Besides, those things will fall off in time.
Just to reiterate, here are the steps I followed:
1. Read the information to the child. (not information that is above their head but at their level)
2. To write the speech, decide where it should begin & what points you want to cover. (you may want to make an outline)
3. Go over each point with you child and ask him to tell you what he knows about it. (prompt him if necessary)
4. Write down what your child has said.
5. You (mom) either write the speech using pictures or if he can read, write the words. (you will need to flesh out his sentences since he will have given only facts)
6. Have him practice his speech every day and you will be amazed at how proficient he will be!
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