I always enjoy a challenge. That's why I jumped at the chance to talk about the custom of Chinese New Year with a local 3rd grade class. Wow! This was an awesome experience.
My two boys are quite a bit beyond this stage of life, so I am now unfamiliar with the typical 8-year old that I used to coach so many years ago. I feared that they would be kind of quiet and uninformed. Of course, I was totally wrong. They already knew it was dark at home when it is day in China, and on and on. These kids were surprisingly bright, energetic, and up to date on many issues. Their questions ranged from classroom conditions to a variety of social issues. In short, I learned a lot.
The specter of facing this audience really made me think. So I drew on my tried and true routine. Before EVERY communications project, I always "begin at the end". By this I mean that I envision my definition of a smashing success. Then I work backwards from that vision, connecting to the resources available. At that point I fill in what I can of the middle, connect the dots, and have a rudimentary program.
So, for 3rd-graders ... I wondered ... what did they WANT to know? What did they CARE to know? What were their reference points? I consulted with my wife to determine the ages of kids I am familiar with - and targeted the personalities and styles of the like-aged people I know. I also reviewed my other constraints - things like equipment, time, competitive events, etc. Then I formulated a plan, rehearsed, plugged my feedback into the program, and launched.
I highly recommend that anyone wishing to hone their communications skills spend some time with a room full of 8-year olds. I think everyone had fun, and I know I learned a lot.
PS: Major kudos to teachers everywhere. You are heroes.