When we first started homeschooling, I thought providing public speaking opportunities, along with the big "socialization issue" would be among the biggest challenges we would face as a homeschool family. Socialization turned out to be a non-issue, the problem we have now is how to limit too much social time, but that's another story.
However, I have had to be more creative when it comes to arranging speaking opportunities. The good news is, it's not that difficult.
Church. Our church has one service each month that is run by the youth of the congregation. My daughter has had several opportunities to read the lessons and read the prayers of the day.
It was nerve-wracking for her at first, but a valuable experience all in all. It also has provided a wonderful exercise in pronunciation, especially those Old Testament names and places.
Drama. A local park and recreation program provides a homeschool drama class. The children attend rehearsals once a week and then finally present their performance to a packed house of appreciative friends, family and community residents. Along with the memorization, musical and dramatic training, the children get the opportunity to be on stage and work through those stage fright butterflies.
Smaller group presentations. We're part of a campfire group that is made up of homeschool children. Each month we meet and the children present a report about something that they've been working on. They get the experience of preparing reports and also presenting them. The children enjoy their moment in the spotlight and they also learn how to be a good audience for their friends.
Start your own speaking club. I'm an advocate of Toastmasters for adults, but since members have to be at least 18, it's not an option for many homeschoolers. But why not start your own informal speaking club? The students can use the club meeting to present different types of speeches: impromptu, demonstration, persuasive, etc.
Community Groups. Several community groups sponsor speech contests for youth in the community. There is usually a chosen theme, the children are asked to prepare a speech, and present the speech to the group members. Prizes can be significant: scholarships and awards, but even if you're not grooming a superstar speaker, the experience is valuable.
Public speaking doesn't come naturally for most people, but
with practice, our homeschool children can become comfortable
speaking before groups. It may not be at the top of their "to-do"
list right now, but someday, when they're called on to "say
a few words ..." they will thank you.
Cheryl is the founder and publisher of WAHM.com. She lives and works at her home in California with her husband and two daughters. She is also the author of It's a Jungle Out There and a Zoo in Here and The Work-at-Home Mom's Guide to Home Business.