Jill’s Gems: Adjusting the Bar for Success, One Child at a Time

Nov 15, 2017 | Posted by the IEW Blog Team


Our forums are wonderful spots to ask questions, share successes, and receive encouragement. Recently a member wondered about how to help her child prepare his speeches for his co-op class. Her son, a naturally introverted person, was mightily struggling to research, write, and prepare his speech to the point that he was nearly immobilized by the experience. His distressed mother wondered if she should lower the bar so that her son could simply “survive speech.”

Jill Pike, Accomplished IEW Instructor, responded with her characteristic clarity and encouragement. Here is her response:

Lower the bar!!!

By all means, make the speech doable. When I teach Speech Boot Camp, I tell them if they can deliver the speech without throwing up, they have done well.

I would just have him do one body paragraph for this speech. The intro can be one sentence (even if there are more body paragraphs!) For example, a speech describing Grandma’s house could have an introduction like this: "We go to my grandma's house for Christmas every year." Done. If the student wants to start with a little story about how someone dropped a pie, all the better, but that is not required for someone struggling. The same stands for the conclusion: one sentence suffices.

You mentioned your son's topic was shoes. His intro could just be a surprising statistic: “Did you know that a woman named Darlene Flynn owned 16,400 pairs of shoes? I can't imagine where she kept them. I am happy with my x pairs.” For the conclusion revisit the stat: “You don't need 16,400 pairs of shoes to be happy! Frankly, I prefer to be barefoot.”

You cannot help your son too much with this. Don't push him to independence too soon, and keep the bar at a doable level. Raising it prematurely will just stall him all the more.

Kids will like doing what they think they can do. Make this doable!!!

No matter what subject a child attempts, whether it be mastering multiplication or mining facts for a research paper, it is important to make the bar reachable. Adjust the assignment so that your child can achieve success because what Jill says is true. Children want to do what they think they can do. When you empower your child, you will see him not only meet that bar, but eventually raise it higher and higher because he will know that he is capable of meeting his goals.

Live Chat with IEW