October 01, 2020
Public Speaking Class Faces a Tough Crowd: Little Kids
The presenters were intimidated. And they should have been. A proverbial ‘tough crowd’ full of stuffed animal aficionados, hair twirlers, pom pom shakers, and fidgeters, the kiddos at Camp KO’s micro-school sat on their yoga mats in the Hoffman Field House and listened to storybooks read aloud by KO students in Kyle Reynold’s public speaking class.
Camp KO’s micro-school, licensed by the state of Connecticut, serves as a safe and structured space for the children of some of our faculty and staff members who are unable to care for their children under COVID conditions due to the hybrid learning schedules in particular towns. The micro-school, managed by Camp KO Director Sheri Slobin Shea, allows more KO teachers to teach their classes in person. A dedicated team of counselors who are KO alumni help the young ones complete homework, go online for meetings with teachers, play a hand of cards, draw, or refine sports skills like tennis. The micro-school follows all healthy and safe protocols, operates from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. five days a week, and the number of students varies week to week depending upon the needs of the faculty and staff.
Reynolds thought the students reading picture books aloud to the young ones was a great opportunity to practice and refine public speaking skills and build connections on campus. Titles included a range of animal character-centered stories: Pierre the Penguin, The Penguin Has to Go to School, If you ever Want to Bring an Alligator to School, Don’t, among others. Students animated their reading using exaggerated voices and great inflections in rhymes or repeated phrases.
Following the read-aloud, Reynolds asked the KO students to reflect on the success of the exercise. “How did we do? What was a mistake that you noticed? Give examples of what we can do so we can improve next time,” Reynolds prompted. Most of the students agreed that it was difficult to project their voices in the cavernous space of the Field House. Next time, the students recommended that they work on their volume, slow down their reading, display the pages more handily to the audience to keep them engaged. The second set of students will present to the micro-school next week, armed with ways to improve their delivery and interact with the little ones. Trying to hold the attention of four and five-year-olds for 30 minutes is no small feat. Kudos to the class for facing a formidable challenge with playfulness and ease.