For us, it started when he was in kindergarten. We had studied all our words and were now going to see how well we remember them at the Spelling Bee of our homeschool group. I was looking at him, sitting there, in front of a crowd, just playing with his number that was around his neck, waiting his turn. I was a nervous mother in the crowd of other nervous parents, while he couldn’t care less. They were down to 5, now 3, now 2, I couldn’t take it anymore and voila! He did it! He won!
That was 8 years ago! Since then, we participated in each one of them because he was hooked; he enjoyed the prizes even if some days, he didn’t like to do the work. We also participated in Science Fair, Culture Fair and so on that were offered by our homeschool group. I saw some children over the year who had a melt down in front of a crowd and some that were just enjoying their time up there. Some were upset about losing, others were just glad that it was over. Some kiddos were just frozen in fear to their seats, I mean it is a competition after all and it is scary.
So why would I put my child through this as a homeschool mom? Ok, let me be honest here, I have often been in charge of those kind of events for our homeschool group and this is what I am telling parents. It is easy for your child to command your family attention when you are all gathered but what about a crowd of strangers? We are in a safe environment and it is just a good practice for public speaking. You would be amazed to see how much all the parents are encouraging all the children that are going up on that stage. So yes, it is a competition, but it is a FRIENDLY competition. It is a healthy competition as well because they know one another and have grown to encourage one another. And I wish it wasn’t true, but as grown-ups, you deal with “competition” in different shape and form, so it is a good way to start training for that but with a good attitude.
For some children who are not good in the world of sports, this is a way for them to feel better about themselves. The muscles working for that type of competition is the brain muscle. Some kids are not good at sport and with that kind of competition, they feel right at home. And one more thing (ok, I might think of some more, but I don’t want to write an essay) is that some of those competitions are bigger than our own community of homeschooling kids. Some go to a County level or a State level which is a great opportunity for your child. And last, but not least, facing your fear. Each time I have host an event like that, I remember the parents to put their phone on silent or else they will be stuck coming up front. This can get a couple of laughs, but they all know how hard it is to be able to just stand there and be judge for your mental abilities. It is as stressful as any sport events that you might participate in.
So if your homeschool child has the opportunity to participate in one of these events, I say go for it. It is an experience that is worth it! For the good parts and the bad ones too. Just remind them, that even if it is a competition, that you are proud of them for stepping up their game and that he or she enjoys the experience. You never know, maybe they will develop a taste for it.