Dear ADDitude

Dear ADDitude: Can We Overcome His Fear of Public Speaking?

“My son is gearing up to enter middle school, where the new Common Core standards require kids to demonstrate a proficiency in oral presentation. He is self-conscious and hates public speaking. How can we work on that over the summer?”

ADDitude Answers

Begin by focusing on the things of greatest interest to your son. Let’s say it’s doing a magic trick or building a go-cart or collecting baseball cards or perfecting a certain skateboard trick. Whatever it is, ask your son to prepare a presentation for you.

First, he should bullet point some ideas of what he would like to say. Next, he’ll write a script, then rehearse before doing a performance for you. When he’s ready, take out the video camera, and have your child make a YouTube video of himself demonstrating something as he talks it through. Kids will do all kinds of things for an audience. Sometimes you can’t get them to write or read or present if they don’t have an audience that can motivate them to practice and perfect.

Keep in mind that the Common Core also requires “collaborative, cooperative learning.” This boils down to group work requiring critical thinking skills needed to analyze and discuss information. School districts in all 50 states are in different stages of implementation now, but the bottom line is that kids will need to discuss and prove their points with evidence. They will have to answer, “What’s my logic? What’s my reasoning?”

So, if your child is trying to persuade you to buy a pet or go to an amusement over the summer, that’s a good opportunity to practice persuasive discussion or persuasive writing. Say to him, “Give me all the pros. Give me all the cons. Go do some research. Tell me how much tickets are going to cost – whatever it’s going to take to persuade me that this is a good idea.”

– Answered by Sandra Rief, M.A.

This question was originally posed during this webinar: Fun Ways to Boost Your Child’s Academic Skills During the Summer