Mastering the Art of Telling News: Speech Therapist Tips for Young Speakers 

As speech therapists with years of experience, Kids First’s paediatric professionals often support sensitive children who find it daunting to speak in front of their class during ‘news time’.  

It’s a common scenario in primary schools, where children are asked to share stories or updates about their life with their classmates. For children who are shy or struggle with speech and language issues, this can be a particularly nerve-wracking task. However, with the right support and strategies, you can help your child overcome these hurdles and build confidence in their speaking abilities 

Speech therapists say that children can learn to be more confident public speakers

Practical Tips for Practice at Home

For sensitive children, the classroom can seem like a stage where they must perform. The fear of making a mistake or not being understood can be overwhelming. It’s crucial to acknowledge these feelings and reassure your child that it’s okay to feel nervous. What’s important is how they manage these feelings and gradually become more comfortable with speaking out loud. 

Start Small and Gradually Increase the Challenge

Begin by practising in a comfortable and familiar setting. Have your child tell their ‘news’ to a favourite stuffed animal or toy. This non-judgemental audience can help ease some of the initial anxiety. Gradually, increase the audience size by including family members in the practice sessions.

Speech therapists say that telling news is nerve-wracking for some children

Use Visual Aids

Encourage your child to use visual aids like pictures, toys, or objects related to their news. This not only makes the story more interesting for listeners but also provides tangible items for your child to focus on, reducing feelings of being in the spotlight.  

Prepare and Rehearse 

Preparation is key for building confidence. Help your child prepare their news by discussing what they want to share and why it’s important to them. Write down key points on a small card that they can refer to. Rehearse their news multiple times until they feel confident. The familiarity with the content can significantly reduce anxiety. 

Speech pathologists say that home practice make a difference for children who are nervous about public speaking

Role-play Different Scenarios 

Role-playing different classroom scenarios can be incredibly beneficial. Take turns being your child and the audience. Ask questions or react as classmates and the teacher might. This not only prepares your child to deal with interruptions but also helps them learn how to engage with their audience.  

Teach Relaxation Techniques

For a child in a classroom setting who is about to speak in front of their peers, Kids First’s child psychologists suggest following three relaxation techniques are practical, quick, and can be done discreetly: 

  • Deep Breathing Exercises: Deep breathing is a powerful tool that your child can use quietly at their desk. The y simply take a few deep breaths, inhaling through the nose and exhaling slowly through the mouth, to calm their nervous system just before they stand up to speak. 
  • Positive Visualisation: Encourage your child to spend a few moments visualising themselves successfully sharing their news. They can imagine speaking clearly, their classmates listening attentively, and themselves feeling confident and happy with their presentation. 
  • The 5-4-3-2-1 Coping Technique: This grounding technique helps distract and calm a nervous mind by focusing on immediate sensory experiences. Your child can quickly identify five things they see, four things they can touch, three things they can hear, two things they can smell, and one thing they can taste, right from their seat. 

These techniques are not only effective for managing pre-speaking nerves but are also simple enough for young children to remember and use independently or with minimal guidance. 

Encourage Positive Self-talk

Kids First’s speech therapists say that positive ‘self-talk’ is one of the most powerful things that you can teach your child to do. Phrases like “I can do this” or “I am prepared” can be powerful. Remind them of times they have done well in the past to reinforce their self-confidence. Try saying things like: 

  • “Whenever you feel nervous, try saying to yourself, ‘I am prepared and I can do this.’ It’s a great way to remind yourself of all the practice you’ve done and how ready you are.” 
  • “Tell yourself, ‘I have interesting things to say,’ before you start. This will help you remember that your classmates are excited to hear your news, and it will boost your confidence.” 
  • “If you start feeling unsure, quietly say, ‘I am brave and I am doing my best.’ This can help settle your nerves and give you a burst of courage right when you need it.” 

Provide Constructive Feedback

After each practice session, provide feedback that highlights what your nervous news teller did well and give ideas for areas in which they can improve. Always frame feedback positively to encourage your child and build their confidence. Our speech therapists suggest comments like: 

  • “I really liked how clearly you spoke just now. Each word was easy to understand. Next time, maybe try looking up a bit more so your friends can see your confidence shine through too!” 
  • “You did a great job remembering all the parts of your story. To make it even better, let’s practice making eye contact. You can look at different classmates briefly to help you feel like you’re just talking to them one at a time.” 
  • You’re getting better with every practice! Remember, everyone gets a bit nervous, even adults. What’s important is that you’re trying your best and improving each time. How about we practice again and try adding a little more expression when you talk about your favourite part?” 

Celebrate Efforts, Not Just Perfection

It goes without saying that it is important to celebrate the effort your child puts into practising their news, regardless of how the actual presentation goes. For an anxious child, or one who struggles with speech and language, this reinforces the value of trying and learning, rather than just achieving perfect outcomes. 

Check In with Your Child’s Teacher

If your child continues to struggle, it may be helpful to talk to their teacher. Teachers have usually taught many sensitive children and can often offer additional support. They may initially allow your child to present only to the teacher or a smaller group of peers. Other idea might include using technology such as video, where your child records their presentation in an empty classroom or at home so that it can be viewed later by their teacher and classmates.

Does Your Child Need Help to Speak Up?

Building confidence in a sensitive child requires patience, practice, and plenty of support. By creating a safe environment at home for practising speaking skills, and by using strategies that reduce anxiety and build familiarity with the task, your child can learn to navigate classroom dynamics more effectively.  

Should your child need help to find their voice and the confidence to use it, Kids First’s experienced speech therapists can help. 
Follow this link or contact our team today on 9938 5419 to discover how we can help your child build more confident speaking skills. 

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