A hundred years ago, learning to read consisted of a teacher presenting basic skills and students repeating and practicing them. Young readers in the 21st century must learn to be investigators, researchers, analysts and critics. Reading instruction has shifted from teaching a series of discrete skills to inculcating strategies that involve the reader as much as the writer.
In today's classrooms, children are encouraged to discuss issues. They may be asked to give oral book reports or explain a science project. For most children, oral presentations may bring excitement or panic.
Help prepare your child to be a public speaker by:
* Talking to him and listening as he talks. Ask him today about something he told you yesterday.
* Asking your child's teacher for examples of graphic organizers, ways in which your child can jot down his ideas on paper to organize presentations. Pictures can also be used as props to assist him with ideas.
* Cutting out and saving interesting magazine pictures. Occasionally, take one out and ask your child to prepare and tell you a story about it.
* Pretending you are a robot and acting the part as you ask your child to tell you how to do a common chore around the house, such as making a peanut butter sandwich or doing the laundry.
* Asking him to prepare a speech of persuasion listing the reasons why he should be allowed to do something out of the ordinary.
* Letting your child be the "announcer" to call everyone together for family outings or dinner. Encourage him to add information, such as the weather forecast or specials on TV.
* Making up your own ideas to encourage speaking. The next time you ask your child, "What did you do in school today?" you may receive more than a one-word answer.