Peer Support Helps Build Confidence in Communication and Public Speaking Skills

Updated: Nov 24

Do these skills get acquired only if a child appears in short term courses, oratorical competitions and debates? Perhaps yes. But these competitions and courses come about once in awhile. Being able to communicate clearly and mingle with others is something all of us need on a daily basis. How can one make it a way of life, a second nature even?



The subject of Artificial Intelligence (AI) always sends jitters when one contemplates the possibility that it will take over the future leading to several jobs becoming irrelevant. "What are the skills my child should acquire to be able to survive in a future that is dominated by AI?" could be a highly likely question that must have come up in many of your minds as a parents. While the future may seem all bleak, there is hope. There is something that cannot be ever replaced by artificial intelligence, which is feelings, empathy for one another, the recognition that when we support one another, a lot is possible. Even something really tough, becomes doable. Teacher/journalist and TEDx speaker Neerja Singh in her article, The Feeling Economy in Teacher Plus, contends, "Projections are that a caring, sharing, collaborative or emotional economy is coming, a way of conducting life and business that will involve people and their relationships."

There is something that cannot be ever replaced by artificial intelligence, which is feelings, empathy for one another, the recognition that when we support one another, a lot is possible.

If what she contends turns out to be true, being able to speak impactfully in front of an audience will be only one of the required skills. It would be come increasingly important to develop other skills such as

  • Active listening,

  • The ability to show another peer empathy,

  • To provide a helping hand when someone stumbles while making speech or a contribution in a group discussion,

  • Disagree with grace for the purpose of achieving a good solution to a problem rather than with the desperate need to win.

  • Support one another.

Speaking as a collaborative activity:

The above skills need time and repeated opportunities. Opportunities in which it is not only about developing one's own capabilities but also by supporting one another as we grow together in confidence. Avenues to exchange interests and discover new ones makes a huge difference to confidence.


A recent contribution by a couple of readers at the Young Readers' Club brought everyone together to explore geography, specifically exploring the names of countries and their locations across the world. The contributions were two games called Globle and Worldle, both involving memory and the ability to read the world map, understand directions and distances to be able to correctly guess the mystery country of the day. What this initiative by the readers has helped bring about a sense of meaningful camaraderie in an online platform. It has led to casual conversations between the members that inevitably translates into something so much more powerful and intangible- peer support.



Be it a challenging vocabulary building or writing activity or even a difficult book for that matter, these readers come together and there is this unspoken camaraderie that translates into support. They remind each other not to give up. They say, "Give us more time, we will figure it out or let's give this book a chance. The author has spent time and hard work creating this book." They talk about the parts that they liked and brutally criticise ideas at times. Similarly, teens at the Young Writers' Club use articles we read to discover different ways if interpreting the same text, observe writing approaches and help one another to express freely. They have grown open to new perspectives and have come to the realisation that there is never a single perspective to anything. Just as someone's perspective changed their way of thinking, their own perspective if expressed can help someone else too. This outward focus, the realisation that one can be of help to another, helps children gain confidence. This is not possible in individualistic oratorical and debate competitions. It needs to be way of life, something that happens regularly in a child's life.


They have grown open to new perspectives and have come to the realisation that there is never a single perspective to anything. Just as someone's perspective changed their way of thinking, their own perspective if expressed can help someone else too. The outward focus, the realisation that one can be of help to another, helps children gain confidence.
 

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Both weekday and weekend batches are available at the Young Readers' Club. While this program is for the 8-11 age group, the Young Writers' Club program for the 12-14 age group offers a weekly platform to read and discuss curated articles from the news, observe writing approaches and practise one's writing skills.

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