When Homeschooled Kids Should (and Shouldn’t) Compete in Academic Contests

I never get tired of reading that a homeschooled child has won a spelling or geography bee. In the most recent case, it was a girl named Annie who won Illinois’ Geography Bee. Congratulations, Annie!

But though I love hearing about homeschooled kids winning these contests, I’ve been dismayed by some homeschooling parents I’ve known who think these bees are some kind of referendum on homeschooling, and for that reason push their kids and others to sign up for them.

I think pushing a child to compete in any contest is unfair. Some kids are overwhelmed by contests, and others just don’t care. To me, the child who wants to be in a contest is the only one who should be in it. Note what motivated Annie to compete in the geography bee:

Ulrich was prepared for the challenge. During the week leading up to the competition, she spent five hours a day studying atlases, geography books and reference materials online.
She was not only driven to win, but passionate about the subject as a whole.

Note also her mother’s role in the process:

“She really did all the work, I just drove the bus,” said a near-speechless Janet Ulrich, who doubles as mother and teacher.

Smart girl. Smart mom.

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