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Solomon wrote that there is “a time to keep silence, and a time to speak” (Ecclesiastes 3:7). How can you prepare your child for the time to speak? What advantages does a background in speech give your child? Instruction in speech communication prepares young people by alleviating their fears and equipping them for work and ministry.
The thought of speaking in front of people is intimidating. Why? Consider an example from the Old Testament. Moses, who “was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians” and “mighty in words and in deeds” (Acts 7:22), was afraid to speak to Pharaoh and the children of Israel. Apparently, Moses had training and experience, yet he described himself as “not eloquent, . . . slow of speech, and of a slow tongue” (Exodus 4:10). Moses’ arguments reveal that he was focused on himself rather than the message or its source, and God corrected him: “Who hath made man’s mouth? . . . have not I the Lord?” (Exodus 4:11). God then promised His presence: “I will be with thy mouth” (Exodus 4:12, 15). We too have the promise of God’s presence (Matthew 28:20), and we need not fear.
“Think before you speak.” It’s not just good advice; it also describes a benefit of speech education. Young people who study public speaking learn to organize their thoughts and clearly communicate them to an audience. Students who study interpretative speech have to research characters and settings in order to convey an author’s meaning. Either way, they hone their analytical thinking skills.
Does speech education prepare children for the real world? One of the most common requirements in a job description is excellent communication skills.
Employees need those skills for interviews, phone conversations, meetings, and presentations. An employee with good speech skills will be more effective in any job.
What about Christian service? Opportunities abound for people who are willing and able to speak up. Preaching, teaching Sunday school or children’s church, witnessing, giving a testimony, leading in prayer, and acting in a church drama are some examples.
Education in speech communication offers at least one more advantage: enhanced interpersonal skills. You are already teaching interpersonal skills whether or not you realize it. From the time your child can imitate sounds, you are his role model for interpersonal communication. The way you speak to him, other people, or a group of people influences the way he will interact as an adult.
If you desire to provide well-rounded instruction for your child—an education that will equip him for work and service—include speech training. Begin early. Demonstrate effective interpersonal communication and provide opportunities for public speaking. Start small. Allow your child to tell about an event in front of a group of friends or family members. Be positive. Provide constructive feedback when your child takes advantage of an opportunity to speak.
Speech activities for younger children can include the following:
The effects of speech education are obvious. “The tongue of the wise useth knowledge aright” (Proverbs 15:2). Prepare your child for his time to speak.
Bob Grass (MMus in Church Music, ‘02) served as the coordinating editor for the secondary textbooks Sound Speech and Performing Literature at BJU Press.