our everyday life

How to Get Kids to Project Their Voices

by Freddie Silver

Although parents usually prefer their children to be quiet and mannerly most of the time, there are some occasions when it's preferable to have them speak up and be heard. If your child is about to perform in a school play, you will definitely want her to be able to project her voice. While shouting seems to come naturally to most kids, projecting loudly and clearly without shouting is something that needs to be taught and then practiced.

Explain to your child why learning how to project her voice is important. For example, if she is rehearsing for her upcoming role in the school play, impress upon her how much more the audience can enjoy a performance if its members are able to clearly hear what the actors say.

Choose a line from a simple nursery rhyme that your child is familiar with and model what projection without shouting sounds like by saying the line loudly and clearly. Have her choose her own line and do the same.

Repeat the line for your child in your normal speaking voice and then shout the line. Make a game out of having your child identify if your voice was normal, projected or shouting. Then, have her try it out with you identifying the various voices that are normal, projected or shouting.

Use a tape recorder to record your child saying the line in a normal-speaking voice, a shouting voice and a projected voice. Play back the tape without adjusting the volume control on the recorder so that your child will hear the differences.

Have your child stand as straight and tall as she can. Explain that it's easier to fill her lungs with the air she needs to project when she is not slouching. Tell her that standing tall can help her feel more confident, which will also help with projection.

Ask your child to stand with her back against one of the walls in the room. Stand about two feet away from her. Have her project the line as you listen. Move two feet further away from her, and ask her to repeat the line again. Keep moving further away until you are at the opposite end of the room. Let your child know as soon as it becomes difficult to hear her as you move away.

Have your child recite an entire rhyme or passage after you are satisfied that she is able to project just one line. Repeat the exercise of identifying various tones with these several lines. Let her know if her volume decreases near the end of the rhyme or passage. Tell her this happens to most people, but she must be aware of it so that she can correct it.

Inform your child that focusing on the end sounds of the words rather than just on the initial ones can help sustain volume and clarity, especially if she's been fading away at the end of her sentences.

Items you will need
  • Tape recorder

Tip

  • Keep these practice sessions short -- five to ten minutes is more than enough. Gauge the length of the session by how your child is responding. It's best to stop while she is still enjoying the practice and return to it later, rather than continue until she becomes bored.

Warning

  • If your child seems to be painfully shy and cannot speak up even when the two of you are alone, or if your child is embarrassed by a physiological issue like stuttering, consult your family doctor to determine whether a referral to a speech specialist is in order.

About the Author

Freddie Silver started writing newsletters for the Toronto District School Board in 1997. Her areas of expertise include staff management and professional development. She holds a master's degree in psychology from the University of Toronto and is currently pursuing her PhD at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, focusing on emotions and professional relationships.

Photo Credits

  • Michael Blann/Lifesize/Getty Images