Can we visit the club before we decide about joining?
Yes, we welcome, and encourage, visitors to the group to “check us out.” To arrange for a visit, call or text us at 214-972-8046, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
If we visit, does my child have to speak?
Guests (and their parents, if they wish to) are encouraged to sit with the members, and those children that choose to are usually given the opportunity to answer an off-the-cuff question during the Impromptu segment of the meeting. Guests have the option to say, "I pass," if they would rather just observe the meeting. Guests seated with the group do vote after the major segments of the meeting, so should pay attention to determine who did the best job during each segment (Impromptus, Prepared Speeches, and Evaluations).
What happens at a typical meeting?
Skill Builders meetings begin with a warm-up activity to get the kids participating and talking. These are generally quick, fun, and creative activities to get everyone into a positive frame of mind for communicating during the meeting.
Meetings follow the same basic format each time. Warm up activity, impromptu speaking opportunities, prepared speeches, snack break, and evaluations. The members are pre-assigned to a specific role at the meeting (these rotate from meeting to meeting). A member might be assigned to be the Timekeeper, Vote Counter, a Speaker, an Evaluator, or the MC, for example. Members learn how to do these roles through a combination of reviewing their member handbook (see sample pages here), training videos, and practice activities in the club. Of course, the club chairperson (the adult supervisor of the club) provides help where needed, as well as the parent or aide.
In addition to the meeting roles mentioned above, Skill Builders members periodically present prepared speeches, starting with the "All About Me" speech, and then the "Just for Fun" speech, and "Exciting Time," "Prized Possession," "How To," and "I Know a Lot About" speeches. Each 3 - 5 minute speech in the Basic Level is geared to develop a different presentation skill, including gestures, vocal variety, visual aids, etc. There are three levels in Skill Builders – Basic, Intermediate, and Advanced.
While many children in the club develop a readiness for a regular Speakers League club, and eventually transfer, some members remain with Skill Builders, because it remains the best fit for them.
If my child joins, how will she know how to be the MC, or the Wordmaster, or an Evaluator, etc?
When members join, they receive a 36-page member handbook that, among other things, describes how to do each role at a meeting. Members learn how to do their roles through a combination of reviewing their member handbook (see sample pages here), training videos, practice activities in the club, and observing. Of course, the club chairperson (the adult supervisor of the club) provides help where needed, as well as the parent or aide.
How much homework/preparation time is involved?
Is my child ready/capable for Skill Builders?
For children to have the best experience, it is important that new members have certain basic skills before joining Skill Builders. Click here for our readiness guidelines.
Skill Builders is a fun, individually-paced, progressively-challenging environment to learn public speaking skills and meeting management. In consultation with parents, each child is seen as an individual and is able to proceed at a pace that is right for him or her.
What sort of parent/aide involvement is required?
Although Skill Builders clubs are adult led, the presence of a parent or other adult aide may be required to ensure any needs are met that might arise for the member. (A parent or aide can attend to multiple children if they are siblings.)
Involvement may include sitting with your child at the meeting table during the meeting, or on the side of the room, ready to step in if needed. Once it is determined that a child can operate well in the meeting environment by himself, drop off is allowed.
How do the mix of ages and social maturity work?
Skill Builders, as a type of club, is still in the beta testing phase. A snapshot, as of this writing, of the first club we started in 2015 (and is still operating) in the Los Angeles area, is a mix of the very young (like ages 5-7, and then a group of 9-13 year olds whose families find it more convenient to attend than other regular Speakers League clubs in the area, and then around three kids in the 12-15 year range, two of whom are very shy, and one who is diagnosed with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder). The Chairperson has her 16 year old daughter (a Level III Speakers League member) helping to mentor the club.
That first club is all homeschooled kids, and homeschoolers typically work well with wide age ranges because they haven't been in the very-age-structured school environment. The members go with the flow as far as the amount of assistance particular members require.
This new club here in the DFW area will develop its own personality based on who joins. As long as members meet our readiness guidelines and can be respectful to one another it should work just fine for everyone.
My child will be turning 18 this year. Can he still join?
Members may stay in Skill Builders until they turn 19.
How much does it cost to join?
There is a one-time, non-refundable, $75 registration/materials fee per child when you join a Skill Builders club through this website. Dues, if paid monthly are $35 per month, year-round, until you withdraw from the club. If you would prefer an annual renewal arrangement, you may opt to pay dues of $380 per year (saving you $40).
Why are monthly dues collected during the summer when the club doesn’t meet?
All of our dues are essentially annual. You can either pay $320 per year all at once, or $360 per year in $30/month increments. There are three reasons:
- We found that parents like the flexibility of a paying a smaller month-to-month figure.
- We found that stability in our membership and scheduling was enhanced by a year-round arrangement.
- We are able to keep our dues lower because there is less paperwork, staffing, and marketing involved in managing membership.
Is there a sibling discount?
Yes. Siblings receive a 10% discount on both registration and dues. Use the promo code “SIBLINGS” on your online order form.
Do you offer financial aid?
If you feel that you could not otherwise participate in Skill Builders without some financial assistance, we do make special arrangements for families that request it. Many of our students receive assistance. We want everyone to be able to partake of this great program! We offer partial scholarships, and they are based solely on need, not merit. To request a scholarship, we ask that the parent submit a statement in writing, or verbally, describing the reason assistance is desired, and what amount is requested. Members/parents who receive scholarship assistance may be asked to contribute volunteer time, on occasion.
What forms of payment do you accept?
We accept Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover, and PayPal for our monthly payment option. If paying annually you may use these same methods, or cash, or check.
What do the class costs cover?
Any registration fees, tuition, or dues cover such items as room rentals, equipment and supplies, ribbons, staffing, videotaping, database entry, website maintenance and security, member handbooks, forms, etc.
How often does the club meet?
Skill Builders clubs meet twice per month between September and May, plus our annual conference on the second Saturday in June.
Should we wait to join in September?
There is no difference in experience joining in September or any other month. It is commonplace for new members to join year-round. Membership goes up and down. The best time to join is when there is an opening in the club.
Does my child have to come to every meeting?
No. However, if you are scheduled for a role but unable to attend, it is helpful to let the Chairperson know as soon as possible so another member can be drafted to take the role.
How do we withdraw from the club?
You may withdraw your child from the club at any time by notifying the club Chairperson. Payments up to that point are non-refundable. Future scheduled payments are immediately halted.
When we’re ready to join, what should we do?
The quickest way is through our online enrollment portal at this link. (If you are requesting financial aid, contact us at the email or phone number at the bottom of this page, and a different ordering method will be used.)
What happens after my child joins?
Once you have paid and completed our online member data form, an automated, short series of emails will start to come to you to help your child get ready for the club. A member handbook will be provided by mail or at the first meeting, and your child will be added to the club schedule which we will send a link to.
If you have any questions or concerns, please contact email@example.com or 214-972-8046.
√ My child can read at a second grade (or better) level, or with minor assistance.
√ My child can be understood verbally, more than half the time.
√ My child can quickly self-regulate, with or without assistance, to avoid episodes of non-participation or outbursts due to frustration.
√ My child can refrain from speaking out of turn and creating distractions, alone or with some assistance.
√ My child can manage tasks responsibly, alone or with some assistance.
√ My child requires additional time, experience, and/or support to understand concepts and accomplish tasks.
√ My child can observe a video of a speech, and with time and review, provide meaningful, constructive feedback.
√ A parent or aide can be in attendance at all meetings and seated beside the member until he/she can manage items above without assistance.
If you answered "Yes" to all of the above, your child is probably a good fit for Skill Builders.