We are now at a time when staying indoors and reaching the rest of the world digitally is our new norm – at least for the time being.
It is inevitable (if difficult) that we need to adapt in order to continue to thrive and preserve a somewhat “normal” existence.
So, what does this mean for our children who still need to be educated, acquire and continue to build skills, and maintain a routine?
This is the beauty of living in the digital age – online education! This mode of education is becoming more and more popular amongst students around the world, regardless of age. Although some are still resistant, or perhaps express scepticism towards online learning, there are plenty of benefits that are made available to all who are open to it – as well as a few challenges that go with it!
The biggest advantage to studying online is the increase in flexibility. At a time where parents are potentially home schooling, and trying to still fulfil working commitments, online courses offer far more flexibility.
Although there may be some suggested time slots, generally, most education providers offer multiple dates and times for parents and children to choose from, all of which can be done wherever you happen to be. This will also create space for completing other educational commitments – and of course, getting them to help out with the chores!
All you need to study online is a computer with internet access.
All of your study materials are sent to you via email. Video conferencing software – such as Zoom – is usually very user-friendly, and allows students and teachers to meet online and conduct engaging and interactive lessons without compromising one’s health. And Learning Management Software (LMS for short) can help engage students and assess their progress.
There really is so much out that that makes isolation that much easier!
How many times have you found yourself stressed and feeling the pressure mounting because you missed the bus or train, or are stuck in traffic knowing there’s no way out?
Well, online learning helps us combat this – no more traffic jams, no more chasing buses down the street or jumping through the train doors at the last minute, simply moving to our computer and viola – get started! And, while it’s good for your pocket and stress levels, we also help reduce our carbon footprint!
Many online courses are a priced more competitively than physical programs – partly because there is no longer any need to rent venues, but also partly to help families through a very challenging time.
There are of course some challenges that come with it, but we can work together to overcome theses as best we can.
One of the biggest disadvantages of isolation more generally is the lack of face-to face social interaction. This is especially important for young children who are very dependent on connecting with others and building relationships.
Luckily, many apps (such as Zoom) allow for plenty of interaction – both when presenting to peers, but also through functions like ‘Breakout Rooms’ which allow them to participate in small group activities.
These virtual rooms allow children to work in teams and share a laugh or two along the way!
There will be a limit on many types of courses on offer in our digital classroom as some courses need to be taught within a physical space – it is hard to learn rugby, robotics or the recorder without someone physically assisting in the room.
Thankfully there are still plenty of choices out there – coding, yoga and public speaking among them – which mean there are still some opportunities to develop even when stuck at home!
It is a modern problem that each of us are facing – whether in the digital or non-digital world.
As a society, we simply spend too much time sitting, and not enough time moving.
A great way to overcome this hurdle is set alarm for every hour – when your child hears the bell ring, join each other and get up and stretch. Walk about the room, go outside to the garden or balcony, and breath in some fresh air.
And when lunch time hits, try incorporate less eating and more moving. Have a light meal after going for a walk or bike ride; get on YouTube and do a dance class; whatever floats your boat – just get moving! Students will return to the screen feeling revitalised and much more focused.
If you take regular and proper breaks (no scrolling through phones!), you’re much less likely to feel lethargic after a day of online learning!
Although we are experiencing a new and often testing way of living and learning, we can be open to what is and learn to embrace what we have.
Online learning is a great tool which can be used to help support our students and parents alike and Speaking Schools Australasia hopes to continue to work with our existing community, as well as welcoming any new members.
Check out our online programs below to see what we’re offering, and how we’re overcoming the challenges above!
Be well and stay safe!
As of mid-March 2020, the novel coronavirus known as COVID-19 has spread to Australia.
At this stage, we know the following:
Currently, there are travel bans in place for China, Iran and South Korea (and travel restrictions from Italy), with the Australian Government considering further steps to help contain the spread of COVID-19. To date, only one school (Epping Boys High School) has been closed for one day, after a single student caught the virus from their mother.
Whilst children appear to not be at a particularly high risk, SSA places their safety (and the safety of our coaches) as our highest priority. This is the first tier of our teaching policy.
Below are our action plans for the current and upcoming programs. Please note that these will be subject to change depending on advice from the Australian Government and/or the health authorities.
At this stage, we have taken the following steps:
We are constantly monitoring the situation, but it appears that transmission of COVID-19 is very unlikely in any of our classes before the end of the term. Despite this, we are also taking further steps at all of our centres to reduce the chances of contagion, including:
We are revising these as Term #1 progresses, and will amend them as necessary.
At this stage, it is unlikely that the Term #1 programs will need to be cancelled. However, should this occur, we will update the action plan accordingly.
We have developed the ability to roll out online classrooms as a substitute, and have already had 1,200+ students go through similar programs in China, so we are confident that we will still be able to provide high quality programs even if we are no longer able to run them in a physical, in-person format.
As of mid-March 2020, our April holiday programs will still be going ahead at all venues.
Should the holiday programs go ahead as planned, at this stage we will be taking the following added steps to prevent contagion (in accordance with Government recommendations):
We will revise these guidelines in advance of the holiday programs starting, and amend them as necessary. Importantly, current advice is that masks are unnecessary, and in some circumstances may increase the likelihood of transmission if used incorrectly (which children are more likely to do).
In the event that we receive advice that it is unsafe for such programs to run, and are required by the Australian Government to cancel the workshops, three options will be made available:
Given that parents will be relying on us running the programs, as many of them will still be required to work, we will only cancel the programs if the Australian Government either requires us to do so, or strongly recommends that we do so.
That said, if we continue with the programs as scheduled, to the extent that parents are concerned about their child’s safety, but have already enrolled in our programs, they will still be able to obtain a credit for a future holiday (or weekly term) program later in 2020 if they choose not to attend.
At this stage, it is too early to determine what steps will be necessary for our weekly programs in Term #2.
We will update our action plan for Term #2 before bookings open in early April 2020.
Students and staff participate in these programs from home, and they do not expose students or coaches to others. These programs will continue to operate normally.
SSA has put in place a policy that specifies the obligations and responsibilities of its management team, coaching staff and partner organisation.
Please get in touch if you would like a copy of the policy.
Everyone has that little voice in their head, something we often call an inner monologue, narrating our life. Maybe it doesn’t sound like Morgan Freeman, but it is always there – an ever-present commentator who knows our innermost thoughts and feelings.
This can be exceptionally useful – our inner monologue can help us find coherence within our thoughts, bounce ideas without fear of embarrassment and entertain ourselves when our phones run out of battery.
But our inner monologues can also be debilitating. They are generally the primary drivers of our own anxieties, and often tend to question our choices:
What if I fail?
What if people hate my idea?
What if everyone laughs at me?
It is up to us to answer these types of ‘what if’ questions. If we take a negative approach – believe that failure is the end, that everyone will hate the idea and laugh at the concept of you speaking up – then we have already lost. What is the point of trying when things look so pessimistic? We make excuses, and put in less effort – at least then we’ll be able to absolve ourselves of blame if (and in our minds when) things don’t pan out.
Thankfully, many people don’t think this way. When asked such questions – by either their inner monologue or other people – many answer positively, and present an optimistic view of the world. ‘Maybe I will fail, but that’s okay, I’ll just give it another shot’. Or ‘maybe people will hate the idea and have a good laugh, but that doesn’t matter, I believe in it’.
This perspective is what confidence looks like. An unshakeable belief in one’s own abilities, and the knowledge that whatever happens we will still succeed. It’s an optimistic take that we can handle whatever the world throws at us.
Confident people are generally less anxious about their place in the world, show much greater motivation to succeed and more resilience when things go wrong, and often have stronger relationships. They also aren’t necessary extroverted – plenty of people are quietly self-assured of their capabilities without outwardly expressing it to the world at large
But what makes a confident person? It is widely accepted in modern psychology that whilst confidence is partially innate, at least half (and likely more) of an individual’s confidence is the result of how they are raised. No one is truly born confident – although some are more likely to grow up self-assured than others, there is plenty we can do to push the process along.
We’ve pulled together a few easy steps parents can take to help their children develop into more confident adults – check out our blogs on encouragement and failure to learn more!
Taming our inner monologues can be hard, but we know which tools work – check out our programs to learn more about how our public speaking and debating programs can help kids change the narrative and build self-confidence.
It is important to remember that things don’t always go to plan – we all make mistakes, and realistically, we all occasionally fail.
In this blog we’re going to be looking at something that often isn’t well understood, and is even more regularly forgotten – the importance of failure.
We all know the old adage of ‘learning from our mistakes’ – as a parent, it’s one of the most common phrases we utter around our kids. But isn’t always something we reflect in our day to day lives.
It is really important to remember that failure should never be the enemy. We tend to learn our greatest lessons from our mistakes. Most children will touch a hot stove in their lives, but only once. It is important we don’t succeed every now and then, and that we’re not sheltered from failure, because life is realistically full of it.
We won’t get every job we apply for, date every person we’re interested in, or top every test we take – that is life. We don’t have to like it, but in order to live a happy life we need to acknowledge that it’s true.
It is also really important we don’t fear this type of failure. This is what is commonly referred to as resilience – an acceptance that we won’t always succeed, and a willingness to get back up and try again until we do. Another word for this – ‘grit’ – is often quoted as being one of the best predictors of success in life. People who try and try again are quite simply more likely to succeed because they give it more attempts.
The most important thing to do when kids fail is to tell them it’s okay. It’s okay they didn’t get in the sports team, it’s okay that they didn’t top the OC test, and it’s okay that they didn’t beat a boss in whatever video game they’re playing. They can try again, or if the opportunity has passed, there will be other opportunities to succeed down the track.
Finally, it is important to never be critical when you think they could have done better – rather, we should be constructive with any criticism we provide. Never tell a child they did something wrong without providing them with suggestions about how they could do it better next time – this helps them maintain their self-confidence and resilience, and provides them with avenues that may lead to greater success down the track.
Our programs embrace the important lessons failure – and targeted, expert constructive criticism – can provide to students. See what we offer to learn more!
Equipping our students to face their fear and thrive!
Glossophobia, or a strong fear of public speaking, is a very common phobia among adults and children. In fact, research suggests that approximately 75% of the global population is affected by some level of a fear of public speaking – whether mild or extreme (Black, Rosemary, 2019)
Luckily, there are ways to help combat this very real and very common fear – and the younger we start facing this anxiety, the better!
Have you ever shrieked when coming face-to-face with a spider? Run out of the room and called for help? I’m with you, but the truth is the only way to nip that in the bud is to face that spider – or whatever else is creating that same effect in your life. Often in life we tend to run from what we fear and keep running! So, stop running and take the necessary action to remedy this fear.
Don’t worry, you can start small – try doing a presentation on your favourite topic in front of your family, your friends, the mirror, your pets – whoever will listen! Once you conquer this, try a bigger audience.
For us parents, it’s important to create a space for children to feel like their thoughts and opinions matter. Involve them in family decisions whenever possible, and prompt them to speak for themselves when asked a question. Instead of asking simply how their day was, which will almost always get a shrug and a grunt, ask your child to describe the highs and lows, the most memorable moment of the day, something they learnt – this will encourage more explanation, elaboration and communication.
Consider taking part in a weekly drama, public speaking or debating program to help break those barriers. A weekly group will help you form bonds with your coach and fellow classmates, ultimately helping you conquer that fear!
Know your material – you will be much more comfortable talking about something about which you know a lot about and are interested in! We usually start off super nervous in the beginning, so it might be worth spending more time on practicing your introduction to get off on a good start.
Breathe! Yes, I know it may sound obvious and silly, but when we are very anxious, stressed or nervous, we hold our breath and create more tension in our bodies. Taking a few long inhales and exhales before presenting really helps tell your brain that you’re safe and leads to you feeling more relaxed. Incorporate some bodily movement in conjunction with the breath – rolling your shoulders, placing your hands on your tummy to feel the breath move up and down. Drinking a few sips of water may also help take that nervous energy down a notch.
Remember, you’re not the only one! Everybody gets nervous from time to time, so be kind to yourself! Keep in mind we are human, and nobody gets it right every single time! Your audience is there to support you – you’ve got this!
In this blog, we’re going to look at two ways we can help build self-confidence in kids – encouragement and compliments – and how we can use these to tame our inner monologues and build confidence.
Whilst we often group encouragement and compliments in the same category, it is important to remember that they are different and both important in their own ways. Let’s look at each below.
Encouragement refers to words of affirmation which confirm your belief that others can (and likely will) succeed. ‘You’ve got this’, or ‘I believe in you’ are both great examples. This encouragement helps others – and especially children – overcome their inner monologue’s fears, and give things a real go.
Over time, they begin to internalise this belief – ‘Mum and Dad believe in me, so I don’t think that I’ll fail’ – changing the way they interact with their inner monologue, and becoming more self-confident as a result.
That said, it is important to not let this go too far – it’s a balancing act. Whilst it is important for a child to believe that they can achieve nearly anything they set their mind to, it is important to keep those goals realistic. Encourage them to take steps to become an astronaut, but don’t promise them they’ll be on the moon next summer.
If expectations aren’t managed, and goals aren’t adaptable, disappointments can lead to significant drops in self-confidence.
Compliments are different. They refer to words of affirmation which come after someone has already achieved success – they show that you also define what they have achieved as a victory. Phrases such as ‘great job’ or ‘well done’ are common examples.
There are two important things to remember when giving compliments.
First, make sure that your child has actually put in effort to achieve the goal. If they have freeloaded to get there, and they know you view it as a success, they are likely to put in less effort next time.
Second, give compliments readily, even if they don’t achieve their own goals. Compliments should be used as positive reinforcement for subjective effort, rather than solely when they reach objective goals – for some children, just standing up in front of an audience and mumbling a few sentences is a huge achievement deserving of plenty of compliments, even if the next (potentially more naturally talented) speaker gives an objectively great five minute speech.
Kids should be pushed to succeed, but every milestone – no matter how small – should still be recognised.
Want your kid to feel more confident? Have a look at our programs to see how our programs encourage kids to take on the world!
Public speaking can feel scary.
It has been estimated that up to 75% of all people have some level of anxiety around presenting to audiences, with plenty of people listing public speaking as their top fear.
But things don’t have to be this way. We’ve compiled a few tips that can really help with those nerves, and help you put together a great speech.
People often get to choose what they talk about in a speech, even if it means reframing a topic to fit what they want it to be. If you choose to speak about something you really care about – whether it be video games, climate change of unicorns – you’re much more likely to actually want to talk about it.
Not only will this help the process feel less daunting, but the added enthusiasm will likely improve your speaking manner – we all get more animated when we’re feeling passionate.
Public speaking, at its core, is just a strange type of conversation between a speaker and their audience. If you know your audience – who is likely to be in it, or at least the type of person who is likely to be present – this will reduce any surprise you feel when you get onto stage, and likely help reduce your stress.
As an added benefit, knowing your audience will also help you prepare a speech better tailored to the circumstances, helping persuade them of your point of view!
Boring, we know.
But practice is what makes a good speech great. When we prepare a speech, we usually spend most of the time thinking about the actual words we’re going to say – but this often isn’t what audiences are really interested in. They actually pay much more attention to the way that we present ourselves – something we can only develop if we practice beforehand.
Besides, practice helps us feel more familiar with the content, helping reduce the nerves when we actually get up onto the stage!
Anxiety is the fearful apprehension about something that we believe will come to pass – the body’s natural response when we stress about the future.
One of the best ways to overcome anxiety, particularly around public speaking, is to really think about what the future will likely hold – we’ve all seen dozens (if not hundreds) of speeches, and likely given a fair few ourselves.
Most (if not all) of these presentations tend to go pretty well. The speaker gets up, gives their two cents, then sits down to some level of applause, sometimes rapturous but often just supportive. This is the most likely scenario we all face when we get up to present.
But what if I mess it up, and everyone laughs at me?
In ten years of public speaking coaching, our Managing Director (Mark) has never actually seen this happen. Audiences know what it feels like to stand up and present, and feel empathy towards a speaker who isn’t doing their best. Rather than laugh at the speaker, most people actually want to run up, give them a hug and remind them everything is alright (and we’ve actually seen smaller children literally do this in our classes).
Audiences are almost always on the speaker’s side, and visualising this – what is likely to happen, rather than what we fear might – can really help ease the nerves in the lead up to a big speech.
Unfortunately, whilst we can limit our anxiety around public speaking, it often never truly goes away. Whilst many might consider this a disadvantage, it really isn’t.
A little bit of stress can actually be a good thing. It is a great motivator, helps us focus, and gives us an enthusiasm we might not otherwise possess. Whilst too much adrenaline can be bad for our health, a little bit here and there can really help us succeed.
All of this is great for public speaking. Redirecting our nervous energy into our speech can motivate us to actually get up and speak (this is a ‘fight’ rather than ‘flight’ response), help us keep on point, and assist us in giving a more passionate presentation.
If meditation has taught us anything, it’s that nothing calms the nerves like a few deep breaths.
Make sure you breathe calmly while you’re waiting to give your speech, especially if you feel any level of panic coming on. Breathing helps calm the nervous system, and in many circumstances can actually postpone panic until you’re back in your seat.
But don’t let the good breathing stop there. When you’re up on stage, about to start, it’s a good idea to take one deep breath before you start speaking – this will help you focus, and give you the strong start that you need. Then continue taking deep breaths as you go through, particularly if the nerves aren’t going away – this can help keep the anxiety at bay.
In many ways, our breath is the best tool in our arsenal to help keep us calm.
Our last tip is to listen carefully to any feedback you receive, and make sure you put it into practice when you next present. Feedback, and in particular constructive criticism, outlines our mistakes, and gives us avenues we can take to overcome them in the future.
This is how we learn, and feel more comfortable when we next get up to present.
We’ve been coaching public speaking and debating for over five years, and know how to put all of these tips (as well as many others) into practice.
Have a look at our courses to find out more about how our holiday and weekly term programs might benefit your child.
Being a kid is getting harder.
Think back just a decade ago. Facebook was a fledgling service (Snapchat and Instagram didn’t even exist), students felt less stressed about exams, and people were confident that the world would still need lawyers when someone finished high school.
How the world has changed. Social media pervades every area of modern life, academic stress is at all time highs, and around 40% of existing jobs are likely to be automated by 2030. And things are only set to become harder for our kids.
What can parents do to ensure the best possible future for their children?
As the world becomes more automated, traditional service skills like reviewing documents, accounting and even computer coding will increasingly become the domain of algorithms.
It is therefore important that people, and in particular children, learn the important skills that will set them apart from increasingly clever computers. First proposed by the National Education Association in the US, the Four C’s for 21st Century Education represent the four most important skills students should walk away with after their formative years to ensure resilience in an everchanging world.
Those skills are:
There are a number of ways that parents can help make your child more resilient to the uncertainties of the future.
First, parents can make sure they invest in their child’s education. This doesn’t just mean financially – it is important to invest time as well. Making an effort and taking an interest makes students better collaborators and communicators – just make sure to show them how to use the fishing rod rather than handing them the fish. This ensures they develop critical thinking skills as well.
Second, parents can challenge their child. Not in an aggressive or oppositional way – this can be quite harmful to their confidence. Instead, you should challenge them to back up their opinions, and help them develop into the type of person who can craft a persuasive argument. This can help develop their critical thinking, creativity and communication skills, and can be done anywhere from the classroom to the dinner table.
Third, you should encourage them to take part in activities that will help bolster these skills. Things like public speaking, and especially debating, are excellent for helping students develop all of these skills – students have to be collaborative when developing a team case, creative when devising arguments, logical when preparing what they’re going to say and persuasive in their delivery.
Whilst we may not be able to predict what the future holds, there is a few certainties – the world is going to change, employment is going to change, and traditional knowledge is not going to be enough to keep up. Helping our kids think critically, think creatively, collaborate with one another and communicate effectively is definitely a step in the right direction.
Public speaking and debating encourage students to communicate their ideas in a persuasive manner, think critically about the world, and collaborate with others to develop creative points. Take a peek at our programs to see how our weekly term programs and intensive holiday programs can help improve your child’s resilience.
Building the confidence of today and tomorrow’s students!
Throughout the history of the world, people have been deprived of a voice – whether it be due to their gender, race, social standing, and oppressive communities.
Although some voices are still being silenced, fortunately we are now at a time of great change. The modern world is becoming more and more globalised; consequently, we are now blessed with more and more opportunities to express our voice regardless of where we come from. However, are we exploiting these wonderful opportunities? Are our children being given a voice? Are we moving away from the screen and communicating authentically and confidently face-to -face in this modern world?
One of the key pillars to building that voice is to value the younger generations’ opinions, perceptions and thoughts. How do we do this?
We can start small in the family home. Children no longer need to be seen and not heard – we should allow them to express concerns, debate points, and broaden their view of the world. It’s important to actively listen to them – reinforcing the validity of their voice, reassuring them that they are truly being heard, and therefore laying solid foundations for the future.
Similarly, schools play a pivotal role in ensuring our young are given a platform to confidently and openly communicate with their peers, teachers and the general community. The classroom can provide a challenging, yet nurturing environment to develop the student’s ideas and thought processes, which can then be vocalised. Furthermore, students getting conversing with local community leaders, involving themselves in community projects where human connection is built.
Finally, as students begin taking on jobs, employers play a significant role in helping shape our children’s voices. Consider how much of a voice is needed to participate in meetings, encourage negotiations between employers and employees, cooperating with co-workers and colleagues, communicating with customers – the list is endless!
In a nutshell, the voice of our younger generation and future generations to come is everyone’s responsibility and needs to be truly embraced to help shape more confident, cooperative and resilient leaders of tomorrow!