Toastmasters Curriculum – When can I start? How does it work? How long do I continue with the program?

Q1: How many new member kids (students) are added to the program every year?

A: It depends on the available coaching bandwidth. While there is no fixed number, we have typically been able to add new kids to the program every year.

The Toastmasters classes run in a workshop format where everyone has a role every week, focusing on a range of communication skills from one week to another. That limits the number of kids we can have in one group (class).

We welcome new kids and families. We look forward to the new ideas, new energy, enthusiasm, fresh perspective, and colors that every new kid brings with him/her. It enriches the experience of everyone in the program.

Note for students and families that have done toastmasters with us before:

  1. If you have done toastmasters in the previous years, you will be a returning student/family to the program. We usually provide options for returning families to continue toastmasters, so long as the upcoming quarter’s schedule would work without conflicts. The answer here for Q1 is more for the new families (kids aiming to start toastmasters with us for the first time).
  2. If you are a returning family or student, you should probably skip Q2-5 and go straight to Q6. We have your contact info, and we send invite at the start of every quarter. Thank you for your continuing interest in toastmasters.

Q2: What is the starting age for toastmasters?

A: The starting age for the Toastmasters youth program is now 13 years. From working with youth over the years, we realize a little more maturity helps kids work more independently. Kids’ ability to prepare at home, think critically, and set and manage expectations becomes much easier. It also helps coaches maintain overall program quality with a reasonable amount of time commitment.

Please note that for the upcoming quarter (fall 2020), with the Toastmasters program happening over video conferencing, we aren’t adding new kids/students to the program unless they are 14 or older. We don’t think it can be as effective for youth to learn Toastmasters ideas for the first time over video conferencing.

The best option is to wait until we can safely navigate through Covid-19 and start meeting in the physical classrooms again. You want to wait until the setup and support can be effective.

Q3: How do you register for Toastmasters?

A: Send an email to DevenToastmasters@gmail.com with the name of your son/daughter, his/her date of birth, your contact email address, and contact phone number.

Please send your email sooner than later. Email is our way of tracking the timing of your request. It is difficult for us to track casual conversations you might have had. We need an email, please, with your information.

Q4: What if we don’t make a list this year?

A: We keep you on a future list. We handle requests on a first-come-first-serve basis. If you had to wait, your priority at the next opportunity goes up as your date of the enrollment application would be that much earlier.

We also give older kids priority over younger kids. So, as your kid gets older, he/she has better odds of making it for that reason.

So far, we have taken all interested families in the program (sometimes with a little bit of wait time). We hope to be able to continue doing so unless the demand gets too overwhelming to handle.

Q5: What if you start toastmasters at an older age? 

A: That is fine. We have several examples of kids starting at older age ranging from 13-17 years, and they have done well. One advantage of joining when a kid is older is more maturity. It makes it easier for him or her to pick up the ideas and implement them.

The Toastmasters curriculum has a vital emotional component to it. From our experience, some kids would do better starting a bit later than others. However, there is no way for us coaches to figure and give recommendations one way or the other. When there is room in the program and kids meet the age requirement, we will take them.

When you start early, you are learning and using these ideas and skills at a younger age. However, if you are looking at investing a couple of years into this, are you better off spending time when a kid is 12-14 years old compared to when he/she is 14-16 years old? There is no one answer there that we can use for all cases; Every kid, every individual is different.

In general, no need to think or worry that you will miss out on any part of the opportunity if you start at an older age.

We have several examples of kids starting this when they enter high school, and what they have been able to do in 2-3 years is very impressive.

If you think your son or daughter could use an extra year to be more mature and then do toastmasters, strongly recommend doing so. In addition to the emotional component and angle to it, the program also requires planning your time a little bit outside the classes, coordinating over emails, preparing speeches at home, etc. (kids are supposed to learn and do this, not parents).

Q6: How many levels are there for the Toastmasters program? How long does it take to complete them all? Is there a defined curriculum?

A: There are three milestones when you are in our Toastmasters program:

  1. When you complete your Competent Communicator (CC) manual (10 speeches), you get a certificate for that from toastmasters.
  2. When you complete two more advanced communicator manuals (5 speeches each for a total of 10 more presentations), get Advanced Communicator Bronze (ACB) certificate from toastmasters.
  3. When you complete two more advanced manuals and do a couple of educational presentations, you are eligible for Advanced Communication Silver (ACS) certificate.

Different member kids might pursue/reach levels at a different speed. So, how long it takes to achieve any one of these milestones can vary. You should aim to complete at least 2-3 speech projects in every 10-week schedule that we put together.

In addition to the above three milestones, there is Competent Leadership (CL) manual. It touches on a range of communication, leadership topics. You can use different roles to complete these projects and get Competent Leadership (CL) certificate.

Q7: If I join Toastmasters, do I have to complete any of these milestones?

A: No, it is not a requirement for you to join the program.

Q8: Can the Toastmasters program help me with my college applications?

A: Different people use it in different ways; there is no one answer to it. We have examples of teenagers integrating their Toastmasters engagement in the overall application package (such as an activity, an initiative, or an essay, for example).

We suggest showing how the communication and leadership aspects from toastmasters helped you with a school activity, a club, or another initiative.

Q9: Are we graduating from one class to the next while progressing through toastmasters quarters?

A: Right now, all the groups are the same. We spread the age group, experience level evenly between different groups. For example, it is normal for some in the group to pursue projects from their CC manual, while others are working on their advanced manuals.

Your group probably will change from one quarter to the other, so you get exposure from different peers and coaches.

When we add new kids/families to the program doing toastmasters for the first time, we try to keep them together in one group and bring them along for the first three months. After that, they merge with other ongoing groups. We mix the age group with this first-timers group and quarter as well.

Q10: When we get invited to enroll and start the program, what if we have other conflicting activities?

A: That is fine. In that case, simply let us know, and you will get a chance for a spot in a future quarter when we add new students to the program.

The program does require commitment and regular attendance. So, strongly encouraged to look at all you might have to decide whether this is something you can take on as an additional activity. We encourage and appreciate you looking at the schedule before committing to sign up. It will help us help you maximize returns from the precious time that you invest in this.

Q11: If you are returning (ongoing and not a first-timer to the program) family in the program, do you have to commit to and join toastmasters every quarter?

A: From our experience, continuity helps. However, we understand you might have a lot going on as well. For that reason, we schedule toastmasters classes in a quarter of 8-10 weeks. If you have to skip a quarter and would like to resume from the next, that is fine.

Q12: When we decide to join for a particular quarter, why is it a requirement to commit to the schedule and attend classes regularly for that quarter? 

  • If you don’t attend classes regularly and participate actively, it dilutes the experience of others. Families invest precious time in this, and we are very sensitive not to compromise their returns from it. It adds to the bandwidth demand of coaches to make it run smoothly.
  • It creates a headache for everyone involved in the program (other students, families, coaches).

We assume you looked at all you might have going on with activities and family calendar, looked at the schedule carefully, and planned ahead of time for the published program to work for you.

We understand that things can happen. For example, what if you get sick, or you have a mishap from a sports activity or an unforeseen family emergency that might come up. The overall spirit of the engagement is you are planning to commit and make it to all classes, and you don’t have known, planned conflicting activities.

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