Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Primary One: Show and Tell

If I had collected $2 every time someone asked me / commented on the socialising and confidence part when they realised that Dumpling and I were homeschoolers, I think I would have collected enough money for Dumpling’s primary school fees through to Primary 6. The thing is, she's none of those.  

Dumpling is a fairly eloquent and confident little person. Just last evening I was running through with her some Holiday Programme options and I asked if she will be fine attending them alone. Her reply was "It's ok not to have any friends, I will make new friends there.". :)

We did put in the effort since she was young to ensure that she will not be awkward in social situations and that she will be confident enough to speak up.  What we did was to expose her to different environments – walks in parks, grocery shopping with me at the wet market (talking to the vendors in Mandarin), getting her to order her food at the Food Court / Hawker Centre when she was not even 5, and signing her up for various Speech and Drama sessions and camps.

Public speaking and doing presentations are a big part of my work as I am trained in Marketing and Communications. So, on that note, Dumpling is blessed as I am able to give her pointers. Show and Tell is a part of the school's Oral Assessments (from P1) where there are also "read aloud" and picture description. With the change in the Chinese syllabus, there is now a stronger focus on Chinese Oracy for children in schools as compared to previous years where the weightage of read alouds and picture conversation was lower. So if your child is in lower Primary or is entering Primary school next year, this may be useful for you. 

:: Topic & Guidelines
Topics are decided / set by the teachers where a guide / template are sometimes given by the teachers. In Dumpling’s school, an A4 sheet (guide) was provided for both English and Chinese Show and Tell. The guide / template will usually have pointers and what the children are marked on. For e.g. for Dumpling's English Show and Tell, the areas were things like "Sentences" (to show link between ideas), "Vocabulary", "Organisation" (sequence of events, appropriate connections) and "Expression" (pronunciation, speak loudly and clearly).   

For her Chinese Show and Tell, a recommended template was given. For both of these graded sessions, it was highly encouraged for the children NOT to read from a script. So your child must be able to present without one. 

Don’t just say it, show it too!

:: Angle
For Show and Tell, I do not dictate / write the script for her. As a Marketing professional, one thing that I have learnt is that the words and flow must come from the presenter. I have prepared presentations and drafted speeches for my bosses and I always encourage them to tweak and edit the copy / words to suit their “train of thoughts” and flow. This is important as it ensures that the presentation sounds natural. 

And this was the same thing that I did with Dumpling. For her English Show and Tell, the topic was on “My favourite animal”. She had 3 ideas which she wanted to explore. So I suggested for her to think about what she can possibly talk / share on each angle, and jot them down if she needed to. From there, I made some suggestions on what else she can add on.

From her notes, she could also see how much “content” she has for each angle and decide which animal she should present on; the more meaty the content, the better. In addition, because she came up with the flow (through the notes jotted down), she need not spend so much time “memorizing” her script and everything flowed naturally. When she got "stuck" during the first few practice rounds, all she needed to do was to look at the notes and work out the kinks from there.

If there are certain words which are not natural to her or they are too much of a mouthful, I will usually suggest for her to change the sentence to something shorter / simpler where she can speak through smoothly. The whole idea is the presentation should be smooth with a good sequence. 

:: Delivery and Expression
This was the hardest for us as the children need to be loud and clear in such presentations. Some children may also have a tendency to look down and speak; this then does not allow for the voice to be projected. 

What I did was to stand at the back of the room and hold up my hand. I then got her to speak to the hand (QUITE LITERALLY! LOL) and that helped her with the projection. If your child is naturally soft spoken, then you may need to set aside some time and work on it a bit. 

When doing work presentations, I am trained not to focus on one party but to scan across the room so that we are speaking to everyone. But if your child is really shy, I would encourage you to just tell him/her to look at maybe the teacher / the first row and slowly work from there. 

Expression wise, Dumpling has a tendency to speak fast and I needed to remind her to pause for effect and slow down her speech. Diction then comes in because with the slowing down, the words are then clearer and pronunciation, more crisp. This was the same case with her Chinese Show and Tell where connecting words like and were “glossed” over when she spoke fast. So she will dot on those sections where she needed to pause in her notes.  

Of course, what remains then will be to practise, practise and practise. If your child has a large / bulky item to hold onto, it is important to practise with it so that he/she is used to handling it while presenting. 

I hope that these tips are useful for you! :)

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