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Public Speaking and Speech and Debate

Public speaking is often considered one of the major fears of humans. Studies show that as much as 70% of the population have experienced fear of public speaking. Some even fear it more than death! It doesn't have to be that way for your children.

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Teaching your children public speaking skills has a list of great benefits: increased personal confidence; better writing, organizational, and research skills; critical thinking; and improved communication skills. Plus, if your child likes public speaking, it can be a marvelous activity to include on your activity and award list! One of the great things about homeschooling is that you can tailor your school to meet the needs and interests of your students. There are many great ways to include homeschool speech and debate skills in high school.

Homeschool Speech and Debate

Some parents choose a formal speech and debate club. It's intense and takes a lot of work on the part of the child. On the other hand, if your child likes it, it's a great way to include English and Social Studies through that delight directed learning. Try contacting these organizations.

Homeschool Public Speaking

You can focus on public speaking. This may be less intense, and usually involves giving a simple speech each week, or month, or whenever it is convenient to attend the program. Many church programs include public speaking. There are plenty of ways to teach public speaking in your homeschool! Public speaking can be included in a wide range of activities, in class or in large groups. Try contacting these organizations.
You can focus on practicing public speaking in the context of other classes. Using a video series or homeschool class, your child learns basic public speaking. Then they practice their skills when presenting oral reports to family or friends. We used to give monthly oral book reports in our homeschool group, and it was great fun! All grades participated, and we celebrated with pizza as a group. Even when a much younger person is speaking, the students in the audience learn to listen patiently and give positive feedback.

To learn the very basics of public speaking, my favorite resource is, "Secrets of Great Communicators: Simple, Powerful Strategies for Reaching the Heart of Your Audience" by Jeff Myers.

Practice can be achieved by regularly memorizing and presenting prepared speeches to friends and family. Perhaps weekly you could ask the student to memorize scripture, poetry, or famous speeches from the past. Then students can improve their public speaking skills by memorizing and presenting prepared speeches to friends and family.

To memorize famous poems to tie in with your study of American or British Literature, my favorite source is A Treasury of Poetry for Young People.

To memorize famous speeches to tie in with your study of American History, American Government, or World History, my favorite resource is Speeches that Changed the World by Simon Sebag Montefiore. 

High School Credit for Speech and Debate

There are so many ways for homeschoolers to include speaking, speech and debate in high school, there is not one single formula on how to give credit.

Calculate Credits. Carefully determine credit value by estimating the number of hours worked. 60-90 hours indicates a half credit or semester. 120-180 hours or more in a school year is one credit.

Class Title. Speech and debate clubs can be one class, an elective called "Speech and Debate." Because speech is part of English communication skills, it could also be put into the English subject area. "Public Speaking" is a great title for speaking that is not included in other classes.

Multiple Credits. If the student works for so many hours it prevents them from taking social studies or English classes, consider dividing the experience into multiple classes. Sometimes students will work on speeches and debate for multiple hours every day, all year. In this instance, it becomes the delight directed learning method of teaching English, social studies, and possibly an elective as well. Depending on how many hours spent, Speech and Debate class titles might be: American Government, Comparative Government, Constitutional Studies, Law and Government, Current Events, 20th Century History, or American History. This must be done very carefully to avoid double dipping on the homeschool transcript. Read my article Double Dipping Explained for the Homeschool Transcript

Transcript and Course Descriptions. Each speech and debate competition could be a standalone "unit study" that you combine into one class.

Activity List. Include groups on the activity list. An abbreviated notation on the transcript might simply be "NCFCA Christian Speech & Debate League 9, 10, 11, 12." The details of competitions and awards would go on a separate activity list.

Benefits and Public Speaking in High School

Students gain confidence as well as improved communication skills. That leads to better interviewing skills, and improved career opportunities.

Colleges are really attracted to students who are doing interesting and unique things. Those interests of your child will help them stand out from the hundreds of other cookie-cutter kids, hopefully earning college admissions and scholarships.

Whatever you choose, it's important to follow your child's interests, and make opportunities for them to learn. And don't forget the homeschool record-keeping that must go along with these learning experiences. You want to show the colleges the great things your child did!
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