Speaking of Summer – A Summer Presentation to Help Public Speaking

The Public

When most parents reflect on their high school summers, they often remember their summer jobs. Whether babysitting, lifeguarding, or scooping ice cream, most high schoolers used to work at least part-time during summer breaks to earn extra money, work experience, and often a reason to get out of the house.

However, the current tendency for summer high schoolers is to not work outside the home. There are many reasons for this trend, but the primary one may be surprising. Teenagers are not less responsible or motivated to work than their parents. The main reason high schoolers report for not getting summer jobs is that they don’t want to speak in public.

The Fear

Nearly everyone has a fear of public speaking. This brings to mind the old joke that people fear death less than public speaking and would rather be in the casket than giving the eulogy. While this is an exaggeration, for high school students the fear is real and it’s getting worse. A majority of teenagers would rather communicate through text or social media than speak directly to people they don’t know.

As students get older, they naturally become more fearful of public speaking. This current escalation may not only interfere with part-time summer employment, but also academic performance when school is in session. Much of high school and college curricula is moving toward class presentation as a means of assessment. In addition, many universities are adding personal interviews to the application process as part of admissions.

Ironically, as the fear of public speaking rises in high school students so does the need to develop such skills. Summer break is an ideal time for students to hone their public speaking skills, and parents can help them do so right at home.

The Pitch

Fear of public speaking is strongly reduced through preparation and practice. Parents have the opportunity during summer break to help their high schoolers through the process. Teens may resist the idea at first, but with support, direction, and potential reward, they will eventually embrace the chance to conquer their fears.

Parents can help their teens set a goal and a timeline for creating a presentation to be given to the family and/or friends. This may seem like a strange assignment for summer but following a step-by-step plan will lead to success for everyone involved.

The Plan

  1. Establish that this summer presentation is for practice only, and that the audience is without judgment. Ideally, all family members could share in the public speaking by creating their own presentations, so the spotlight is not on just one person.
  2. Allow freedom in choosing a topic, and make sure that the presenter is interested and enthusiastic about it.
  3. Set goals for what the presentation should achieve. Should it be informative, entertaining, persuasive? Don’t forget to set and keep a deadline.
  4. Allow each presenter to prepare and organize their material, research if needed, and format their speech.
  5. Encourage use of multi-media visual/audio aids to enhance creativity.
  6. Establish practice sessions to increase confidence.
  7. Set up a reward for completing and delivering the presentation—whether it’s a gift card or another acknowledgement of public speaking success.

The Result

One summer presentation to family and/or friends is probably not enough to eliminate public speaking fear altogether in high school students. However, the preparation and practice can help them reduce future presentation and speaking jitters. With family support, direction, and potential reward, students will be more confident and experienced in public speaking, which will have lifetime benefits.

A Balancing Act: How Teachers Can Make the Most of Summer While Preparing for Fall

Opening the school calendar in summer to plan next-year’s lessons can be a daunting task, but it is ultimately beneficial for educators to get a head start on the year ahead. While it is crucial to make time for rest and relaxation, completing work during the summer months can reduce stress in the upcoming year.

Here are some ways teachers can get the most out of summer while maintaining a work/life balance:

First and foremost, self-care

Failing to self-care is a prevalent issue among teachers and can lead to burnout. The National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future (NCTAF) claims that half of teachers leave the profession within their first five years. Educators expel an overwhelming amount of much physical and emotional energy in their careers daily. If self-care is not a priority, teacher turnover can continue to devastate many school districts in the United States.

Self-care can be simple and look like reading a non-curriculum book, taking a workout class, or cooking a healthy meal. It helps to make a list of self-care activities and check them off one by one. Educators should make this a priority that ranks as highly as their careers.

Avoid procrastination

For teachers, summers are all about balance. That involves maintaining physical and mental health while structuring time to plan for the upcoming year. When it comes to planning, it helps to set an attainable goal. For example, starting in mid-July, dedicate two hours per week to lesson planning and one hour per week to organizing the classroom. When the first day arrives, teachers will feel refreshed and ready instead of blindsided and buried.

Get excited about the upcoming year

For many teachers, lesson planning is the best part of the job. Summers allow for time to focus on creative planning without the distraction of grading or discipline. It helps to research grade-level projects and adopt one or come up with an original idea and plan it start to finish. Many educators employ backward design and begin with a Driving Question that will guide their planning.

Colleagues can be a great resource when planning projects or units. Teachers often do not consider collaborating with other departments, but this can lead to valuable interdisciplinary work. In-depth projects that require skills from several subjects, such as a hands-on research project about a current issue or a community involvement project, can be the most fruitful.

Become a student yourself

Another great way to pass the time is to take a class at a local college. This can be simply a creative outlet or a topic that furthers your career. Additional courses are beneficial because many schools increase compensation based on collegiate units.

Another great benefit of getting behind a desk is that it encourages empathy for students. Becoming a student again serves as a reminder of the otherwise overlooked challenges they face. Teachers will be better equipped with how to combat these challenges.

Whether summer days are spent catching up on much needed sleep or being active in the community, it is important for teachers to stay enthusiastic and not fall too far behind. Striking a balance in summer can make for a more enjoyable, enthusiastic upcoming year.

The “S” Word Over the Summer…How to Never Stop educating the kids!

The longing of each elementary school-age child in the summer, is to pretend like school does not exist.  They will not discuss homework, or teachers, or any of the evaluations of their success by adults at school, such as a B- in reading. School is the unmentionable thing.  Try “pool” instead and you’ll have better luck starting a conversation.

Teach the Kids Undercover

I’ve got a secret plan: Let’s teach our kids over the summer without them knowing it.

We’ve got a lot of hurdles.  I’d argue that present day technology makes it harder, not easier, to pass on genuine knowledge to the younger generation.  Facts are deceptively accessible, but are they the knowledge we really need?  Still, let’s do it.  Let’s educate our children through experiences, like nature parks and local art showings.  Let’s ask them to discuss it all. Why is it even there? What is the goal of those people who preserve national parks?  Why do people play good music outside for the mere pleasure of having an audience listen? 

Learn Through Doing

Let’s educate teenagers through real summer jobs, but not in the manner of pushing them into the workplace with a mentality of fake it till you make it.  Let’s educate our teenagers through exposing them to great, decent people doing great, decent work, and best of all, doing it with grace and a wink.  If you’ve ever received excellent customer service, you’ll know what I mean by grace, and if you’ve ever been that person, I take my hat off to you.  Search for the place where your teenager can learn from the best, even if they’re learning to make coffee.

Summer Programs

And then there are workshops offered in summer that focus on developing specific talents.  Summer programs that focus on chess or theater or woodwork are different in intent and pace from school. There’s a reason they aren’t usually called “classes”. They are project-based in nature.  I made something, your child thinks at the end, and it’s different from anything anyone else has made. Or maybe he doesn’t think much of anything except: That was tolerably fun!  I think I’ll go play a video game now.  But he has been a creator, has made a little bit of uniqueness and given you a glimpse into how he views the world.  You might be educated by that knowledge in your own turn.

So avoid “s” word, but never stop educating the kids.  Our time with them is too precious.

Music Education Keeps Children Cognitively Engaged During Summer Vacation

Parents and educators share concerns regarding summer learning loss for children. Although summer is a time for fun, travel, exploration, and relaxation, it can also become a learning gap where children lose knowledge and cognitive skills that they acquired during the previous school-year.

Benefits of Summer Music Education for Children

Why not try music activities to bridge the summer learning gap? Learning to play an instrument, singing, making music in groups, and participating in focused listening activities are all excellent ways to enhance your child’s cognitive, psychomotor, and social abilities. Consider the following benefits of music education for children:

  • Music study correlates with development of language and reasoning skills due to music’s role in developing the left side of the brain.
  • Music study correlates with better test scores among students, including SAT’s.
  • Through music, children develop auditory attention which transfers to better listening skills in the academic classroom.
  • Playing an instrument helps children to develop eye-hand coordination and enhances their ability to practice fine-motor skills.
  • Music is closely related to Math via rhythmic elements and pattern recognition.
  • Music-making promotes creative thinking.

3 Suggestions for Summer Music Education

Get your child involved in music activities during summer vacation! Here are 3 suggestions for younger children as well as teenagers.

Music Camp

Find a music camp in your area. Music camps can be found locally in schools, churches, college campuses, recreational community centers, music retail establishments, and commercial music centers.

Camps offer programs for age groups ranging from young children up to teenagers. Music camp activities include instruction on instruments, basic music theory, ensemble participation, and listening activities for music appreciation.

Sources of information about local music camps include the following: (1) the music teacher at your child’s school, (2) local, municipal recreation departments, (3) administrative offices in local schools and churches.

Private or Group Lessons

Summer is the perfect time for children and teenagers to start or to continue music lessons in private or small-group settings. This could be for singing or playing instruments. The extra free time afforded by summer vacation means that kids have plenty of time to practice without the pressure of schoolwork and homework assignments. With extra practice time, skills acquisition and creative accomplishment can skyrocket!

Adolescents who play in school bands or orchestras or who sing in school choirs can make huge progress by taking lessons over the summer. This will pay off when they return to school in the fall.

For students who take music lessons during the schoolyear, a summer break can lead to learning loss. Therefore, it’s important to continue lessons over the summer. Take advantage of a more relaxed and flexible summer schedule to really dig into music study. It will be greatly rewarding!

Age-Appropriate Music Learning Apps and Websites

Explore the many apps and websites designed to facilitate your child’s cognitive development through music activities. Through interactive games and creative tasks, children acquire music knowledge and improve their skills. Focused listening skills, music facts, pattern recognition, music composition, and music appreciation are just some of the areas that children can explore through music learning apps and websites.

Your child does not need to study an instrument or participate in organized singing activities to reap the benefits of music learning apps and websites.  The cost is minimal, and children can access these learning aides from home or while traveling on summer vacation. Make summer vacation a time of musical exploration and accomplishment for your child. Best wishes for a music-filled summer!