September 2, 2021

Debating for Kids – Online Learning for Children

Debating for kids may not spring to mind as a skill that is of utmost importance when thinking about the areas in which you would like your child to progress. There are limited jobs that specifically require you to debate. However, if your child can convince you to push back bedtime, to purchase an Xbox, or to allow snacks before dinner, don’t despair; they are already on their way to developing vital skills that will stand them in good stead in any future career!

According to The American Debate League, a debate is an organised argument or contest of ideas in which the participants discuss a topic from two opposing sides. Whilst being in a formal debating environment may not be so common, the skills necessary for debating and those developed whilst debating are far-reaching and essential for success in all areas of life. A study by The University of the People states that ‘Debating is an extremely useful skill to have. Being a good debater can bring many benefits such as job success, leadership opportunities, as well as good grades in school.’ 

At Role Models, we are passionate about providing children with skills that enable them to thrive in all areas of life, including in the workplace.  We offer a vast range of online learning opportunities for children, including ‘debating as part of a team’ which falls within our collaboration and confidence themes. 

Debating is far more common than you may initially think

As mentioned, formal debating may not be part of your daily life, but the skills involved in formal debating are essential to success in both the workplace and managing relationships.

1)      Understanding your audience

Whether trying to convince your colleague to develop your business in a certain direction, persuading your parents to get a puppy, or deciding where to go on your next holiday, you will only succeed if you understand the needs of the person you are trying to persuade. Success in negotiation requires you to be empathetic to the needs of those of who you are speaking.

2)      Organise your argument

If you are trying to convince someone to change a long-term view on something, you need to be very measured and prepared. Firing someone with an onslaught of reasons why they are wrong will unlikely have the desired impact. Preparing your argument to reference the needs of whoever you are talking to, and focusing on the issues that are pertinent to them is fundamental. Making sure to deliver this in a succinct and impactful way requires planning and preparation. Developing the ability to plan and prepare your argument and not be impulsive in your response is incredibly important with negotiating and conflict resolution.

3)      Delivery

How you communicate your argument is about much more than just the words you say. Your tone of voice, posture, gestures, and even how you use your voice (such as the use of pauses or to raise/lower your volume for impact) are all fundamental to the impact your words have. Communication is just one of the many skills which we cover in our online courses for children. Some of the world’s most successful politicians are more skilled in oratory than in developing political policies. The ability to communicate with people is a powerful skill and one that we believe is teachable.

4)      Anticipate and plan for possible response

Part of understanding your audience and preparing your argument is anticipating the possible response from your opposition. Once you understand their needs, you are able to think critically and plan ways in which you can overcome potential opposition to your ideas. The ability to think critically is one of the skills that we cover in our online courses for kids. The ability to foresee any opposition to your opinion enables you to have the time to prepare your response. This is a skill that isn’t only vital in debating, but one that is fundamental to success in the world of work.

In an article published in The Guardian on why debating still matters, it is suggested that with the influence of social media, we are now debating against thousands of people from across the globe, all with different experiences, opinions, and frames of reference. As exciting as this is, what are we doing to prepare our children? Role Models online courses for kids are a great place to start!

What can you do at home?

Although raising a child who will challenge everything from their bedtime to their past times might be thoroughly exhausting, they are well on their way to developing some fundamental skills needed later in life. At Role Models, we believe children should channel their passions. We should allow them to develop skills that are not directly taught in the academic curriculum but are vital to success.

Possible topics to debate with your child:

1)      Should children be able to choose their own bedtime?

2)      Is it okay to bully a bully?

3)      Do parents own their children?

4)      Should children be able to vote in Government elections?

5)      If a child makes a mistake, should the parents be punished?

Letting your child debate a topic they are passionate about will motivate them to effect change. It may also provide them with an opportunity to understand your rationale and why rules are in place. Encouraging your child to argue from a perspective other than their own will force them to consider an alternative view, challenging their own opinions and require them to think critically about the topic at hand. Challenge them to consider all sides of an argument and be sure to question their readily held opinions. Discuss how the language and tone they use can help to influence other people.

Debating is one of many skills that we support children in developing at Role Models. Both our online and offline courses cover a range of topics such as leadership, communication, and interview skills. The skills required to succeed in the workplace extend far beyond those taught in schools. We are passionate about encouraging children to achieve their full potential and develop lifelong skills.

Help your child strengthen their team working skills and confidence in sharing their opinion through some lively debates. Join our ‘Debating as a Team,’ session where your child will learn to listen, respond, and justify.

 

This article was written by Laura Kay, Character Education Team Manager at Role Models.