Helping children become confident communicators – how schools can help | Portsmouth High School

Helping children become confident communicators – how schools can help

I had a lovely Friday and an even better weekend. The main thing that brought a smile to my face was having the opportunity to watch the Pre-School and Reception Nativity not once, but twice. It was a real treat to see this in two very different locations. On Friday it was up close within our own hall here at Dovercourt, with the event being performed in front of a packed audience of children, staff, parents and grandparents. Then on Sunday it was a full immersive experience at the King’s Theatre with an audience that filled the auditorium.

In a recent discussion I was asked what made our girls such good communicators, both individually and in front of an audience. It is an interesting question as there is not one definitive answer, rather it is tied in with our entire approach at the school.

The four main principals of the Explorers approach are confident, composed, committed and courageous. They are all elements of what you need to be a good communicator and underpin our entire curriculum. Alongside giving the girls a voice and encouraging them to speak out, we offer a myriad of opportunities from performance and public speaking. Every girl in Reception had a speaking part in the Nativity which means that they become the role models for the Pre-School girls. Similarly, Year 2 will be the lead in the Pre-Prep performance and therefore model for the Year 1 girls. This principle continues right through the school, culminating in Year 6 performing a musical where all of them play a significant part.

There is an example which exemplifies the skill of the staff in helping the girls as communicators. I always remember this when I consider how we encourage girls to face their fears and come out stronger from their experiences. One girl, several years ago, found standing in front of others hugely stressful and completely froze whenever she did it. In order to help her one of the teachers suggested that she try whilst wearing a mask that fitted in with the assembly theme. To our amazement she delivered her lines with not a hitch. This continued a few more times until the mask was not needed any more and she has since become one of our best speakers. Rather than give up an innovative solution was found and an experiment saved the day.