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Empowering Through Education by Judianne Jayme

In their own words - voices of our youth

by Judianne Jayme

It’s tempting to speak for our children, especially if there’s a pause in the conversation. This could be when they’re talking to adults, teachers, or anyone that has asked them a question. In education, we call this pause “think time” because it is precisely time: time that people need to respond.

On average, I probably wait about two minutes for think time (I have gone longer, depending not the question and of the class). I also get students ready with an answer right away. I tell these students to just give me a thumbs-up when they’re ready to share. When I see that all students have their thumbs up, I ask them to turn and talk to a partner and share their ideas out loud.

When you give our youth time to not only come to a full answer, but then also allow them to rehearse saying their ideas out loud, you will have responses that are so much richer in their quality as opposed to expecting an immediate response. I model for my students every day that if I don’t know an answer to something, I communicate that I’d need time to research or think about my response – and that this is ok!

By jumping into a conversation on your child’s behalf, you take away think time. You essentially take away an opportunity for them to share their thoughts using their own voices. Having the ability to use your voice confidently is such a key part to personal growth and confidence, and this starts by providing a healthy, safe space for children to communicate. Listen to their ideas; you’d be surprised at the depth that can be reached if you give them time to find their voice.

Parent tip: encourage those voices!

Don’t jump in. It’s tempting. Instead, guide the conversation by asking questions. Clarify ideas if you feel your child doesn’t quite understand what is being asked. Better yet, encourage your child to be comfortable asking questions for themselves. Remember to take a deep breath yourself, and to listen to what your child is communicating. Don’t take their voices away!

Mimi Aiello Jelynn Dela Cruz Dianne Gutierrez Alliah Ramirez
Mimi Aiello
Jelynn Dela Cruz
Dianne Gutierrez
Alliah Ramirez
Photos by Geraldine Ong Photography & Events

In our public speaking contest, Dalagita, we recently held a private Master Class for the contestants with the Toastmasters organization. We learned everything from vocal warm-ups to breathing techniques and gestures that help us become more animated speakers when using our voices. We ended the day with each of us having to present a one-minute speech about anything we’ve experienced.

As a reminder, our Dalagitas are between Grades 10 to 12, and public speaking can be intimidating for anyone, at any age. What may have appeared to most as hesitation or reluctance to share, I saw as think time. They needed that two-minute time to think of their response. Sure enough, they got up one by one and shared. They spoke and used their voices without someone having to coax them into speaking.

Dianne shared her experiences mentoring and tutoring younger students. She is petite in her frame and laughed about how she, herself, was confused as one of the students she was supposed to be helping, due to her height. She was comfortable, she was confident, and you could tell she was having fun telling her personal story.

Jelynn spoke about her experiences volunteering with new refugee families and how she learned about the privileges of her own life when a child was so grateful to receive an umbrella after he had had to walk in the rain and storms without one for so long, prior to moving to Canada. You could hear the raw emotions in her voice, and see her eyes light up as she spoke about her passion for helping other people.

Mimi shared her experiences dancing, about the metaphors that she learned to help her use proper form. She tugged at an invisible string at the top of her head that elongated her posture. Her descriptive details and gestures had us all feeling that we, too, had that string changing the ways we were sitting in our chairs.

Alliah described a classic situation: the first day of high school. She discussed the way she buttoned her blouse all the way to the very top button, and how her skirt was past her knees (she goes to a private school). She described feeling lost in the hallways and the nerves entering her homeroom. She described something that was captivating in the way that we all could share in her experience.

If we had not given our Dalagitas adequate think time, they would’ve gone up and rambled about something that wasn’t as unique or personal to them. They could’ve gone up and spoken about anything, but because of the two minutes dedicated to preparing and thinking, these young girls got up and shared something from the heart. It was thoughtful, descriptive, captivating and brilliant.

To learn more about our Dalagitas, our open-to-the-public Master Classes (and panellists), the culminating contest and celebration event, and our appearances in the community, follow us at

You can also e-mail me directly for any questions at

Our next Master Class will be at the Mosaic Event Centre, 1006 Nairn Ave. on February 25th, 2016 from 1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. This event is free and is open to all ages, ethnicities and genders. We hope to see you there!

Judianne Jayme is an educator teaching sixth grade and a division-wide mentor in the Winnipeg School Division.

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