Skill Builders Speakers League FAQs

Can my child and 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 julia@readysetresources.com.

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.

Is my child ready/capable for Skill Builders?

Your child is probably ready for Skill Builders if you can answer “yes” to these questons.

√ 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.

Club Location

Coppell Afterschool Skill Builders
1st & 3rd Fridays, Sept – May
5:30pm-7pm
Episcopal Church of the Apostles
322 S MacArthur Blvd., Coppell, TX 75019

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.

What do you mean by individually-paced?

Our mission is for Skill Builders to be 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. In practice, this means that our approach and expectations can be adapted to the child’s special needs, within reason, and as long as it does not negatively impact other members. If you feel accommodations may be needed for your child, discuss them with the Club Chairperson before joining the club and (as circumstances warrant) during your child’s membership.

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 of the first club we started in 2015 (and until recently was still operating) in the Los Angeles area, was 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 were very shy, and one who is diagnosed with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder). The Chairperson of that club had her 16 year old daughter (a Level III Speakers League member) helping to mentor the club.

That first club was 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.

Any 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.

How much homework/preparation time is involved?

Giving a speech would be the only role at a meeting that requires substantial preparation time. Members are generally scheduled for 4-5 speeches per year, so they are usually a couple of months apart, giving enough time to put together a good speech. 
 
Some of the other roles do require a little preparation, for example, the Wordmaster chooses a Word of the Day and comes with a definition of it. The Impromptu Master prepares enough questions to ask the group (or can choose from the questions we keep available). The Humorist brings some jokes. The Poet Laureate brings a poem. The ideal MC will reach out to speakers for introductory material before the meeting and fill in the MC’s worksheet.
 
That’s about it. Other than preparing speeches which can be done in small bites, there’s not a lot of homework.

Who teaches my child how to write speeches?

The member handbook has a section devoted to speech-writing. There is a worksheet to help members plan their first speech, called the “All About Me” speech. There are suggestions for types of speeches to avoid, and a multi-step process we outline for how to prepare for a great speech. Members also learn by observing, doing, and being-evaluated. We endeavor to videotape all speeches. These are generally made available to the member on an unlisted page on YouTube. As part of “completing” the speech, members must view their speech and complete a self-evaluation form. The Chairperson and Advanced members may also provide written evaluation to speakers.

The speeches in the Basic Level do emphasize the development of specific presentation skills. These include using gestures, vocal variety, visual aids, and organization. The member handbook gives specific tips and guidelines for these speech skills. 

In Skill Builders’ Basic and Intermediate levels, parents may assist to any degree they feel appropriate in the crafting of a member’s speeches.

If my child joins, how will he 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. 

Parents/aides are encouraged to review, with the member, the member’s role in the handbook prior to the meeting.

How long does it take to complete each Level?

Completing each level in Skill Builders (there are three), involves giving six speeches and demonstrating mastery (commensurate with the level) for each club role during that level. Because of the varying ability of members, and the newness of the program, we can’t provide a clear answer on this.

My child is not 6 yet. Can she still join?

A child may join if he/she is ready. Click here for our readiness guidelines.

My child will be turning 18 this school year. Can he still join?

If a child is 17 at his/her first Skill Builders meeting, he/she may stay in the club until the end of the school year. That is our age cut-off.

What's the average age of the kids in the club?

We get this question a lot, and we discourage viewing the clubs in an age-centric way. It’s more accurate to view them as skills-centric. Our headquarters Skill Builders clubs have had kids ranging in age from about 5 to 15 and the kids are great together. Our readiness guidelines and professional format ensure a maturity level that evens the playing field. If you must know, call or email us.

Is Skill Builders only for homeschoolers?

No. If you have a school or after-school group that would be interested in having its own club, we can bring in someone to run the club if it’s in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.

How much does it cost to join?

There is a one-time, non-refundable, $50 registration/materials fee per child when you join a Skill Builders club through this website. Dues, if paid annually, are $275. If you would prefer a month-to-month arrangement, you may opt to pay dues of $25 per month, year-round, until you withdraw from the club.

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 $275 per year all at once, or $300 per year in $25/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.

Can my child participate in SLAM?

Yes! SLAM stands for “Speakers League Annual Meet,” and it is an annual gathering of Speakers League, Debate League, and Skill Builders members for activities, educational sessions, and competitions. It is usually conducted on a Saturday in June. SLAM events are held regionally. We expect to have our first DFW SLAM on June 15, 2019. Read more here

Is there a sibling discount?

Yes. Siblings receive a 10% discount on both registration and dues when joining the same club. Use the promo code “SIBLINGS” on your online order form.

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 my class costs cover?

Any registration fees, tuition, or dues cover such items as room rentals, equipment and supplies, 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 optional SLAM (Speakers League Annual Meet) held at the end of the school year, in June.

Should I wait to join in September?

There is little 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.

Do members have to come to every meeting?

No. However, if your child is scheduled for a role but unable to attend, it is customary to find a replacement.

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. 

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. 

When we’re ready to join, what should we do?

The quickest way to join one of our clubs 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 you and 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 julia@readysetresources.com or 214-972-8046. 

 

"All I can say is WOW! I was so impressed with every aspect -- the kids, the speeches, the way the meetings are organized, the whole thing is totally superb. Bravo!"

Erica Stearns, Parent

Contact

Phone: 1-214-972-8046
Fax: 1-310-868-2891
Email: julia@readysetresources.com
PO Box 866092 Plano TX 75086