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Do you think homeschoolers have an unfair advantage in events like the Spelling Bee?


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I have a friend who thinks this and it has been on my mind since my 2 dc won 1st and 2nd grade in our ps Spelling Bee. I'm wondering if it bothers the ps that it was homeschoolers who won. My kids didn't spend hours studying, they had their usual activities and school work to do, but spelling time was spent studying spelling words rather than vocabulary. They're just naturally good spellers but I'm now hoping nobody poo-poos their hard work but saying they had an unfair advantage. People around here have pretty strong opinions & I can see something like this becoming an issue. We live in such a small town.

 

What do you think??

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I don't think so, necessarily. Maybe only in regards to the fact that class time can be spent on studying. But at district and state events there are many more public schoolers.

 

I think as homeschoolers we can devote class time to this, and psers have to do it outside of school, between family time and extracurriculars.

 

Every child is given the list so older children can study on their own time, but in 1st and 2nd grades the child's success will generally reflect the parent's dedication.

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Advantage? Yes. Unfair? No.

 

If I were you, I would not spend one second thinking about what others may think. Who cares? I mean, isn't this why we homeschool? Not to win spelling bees, of course, but because we believe it to be better for our kids (one might say, to give them an advantage in life and learning)?

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I've heard these thoughts before. My dad, who lives in northwestern Arkansas, said that a local homeschooler won a science fair or science competition. Some claimed he/she (I forget whether it was a boy or a girl) had an unfair advantage because the child had more time to prepare for the competition. My dad thought it came down to simple jealousy. To a large extent, I would agree.

 

I wouldn't say that homeschoolers necessarily have an unfair advantage in that regard. I think what homeschoolers do have is more (not unlimited) built-in flexibility with regard to how they spend those school hours. If a homeschooler chooses to use that time for more focused study in a particular area, what is so horrible about that? After all, other people have the same option to homeschool as well, don't they? Unless they have extenuating circumstances, they also can choose to homeschool.

 

I think one big advantage that homeschoolers have is simply more flexibility, and school time is undoubtedly used much more efficiently. We homeschooled for seven years, and this year our girls are in school. We got far more work done during the hours we homeschooled (generally 6:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.) than most kids do in a traditional school setting. My oldest commented on this fact just a few weeks into a traditional school schedule. So---homeschooling can be used to some advantage, like extra time practicing an instrument, or preparing for a science fair, or studying for a spelling bee. However, a diligent student in a traditional setting can accomplish the same things: they just have to make certain they set aside time as well. My piano teacher was a fabulous pianist who practiced four hours a day while attending a regular high school. She made the time to practice, which probably involved her saying "no" to certain favorite TV shows or other school activities. Other kids have some of the same choices. They can turn off the TV and spend more time studying for a spelling bee, if they so choose.

 

These thoughts of homeschoolers having "unfair advantages" begs the question of "unfair advantages" that some public school kids have over homeschoolers. It's much easier for p.s. kids to be involved in sports and other activities. I've seen homeschooling moms work their tail ends off trying to make the same opportunities available for their own kids.

 

If friends ask or question why, simply point out to them the actual amount of time your children have had preparing for the spelling bee, which involved their daily spelling and vocabulary time. I hope nobody makes light of your children's accomplishments as well! Maybe others will be inspired to homeschool as well!

Edited by Michelle in MO
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Advantage? Yes. Unfair? No.

 

If I were you, I would not spend one second thinking about what others may think. Who cares? I mean, isn't this why we homeschool? Not to win spelling bees, of course, but because we believe it to be better for our kids (one might say, to give them an advantage in life and learning)?

 

:iagree:

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homeschoolers have potentially more time to work on it but a ps kid who cut out other after school activities could find just as much time. A great deal of it is just going to be based on dedication of the student and the parents, not schooling. Like everything else it is all about choices and priorities.

Edited by Cadam
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homeschoolers have potentially more time to work on it but a ps kid who cut out other after school activities could find just as much time. A great deal of it is just going to be based on dedication of the student and the parents, not schooling. Like everything else it is all about choices and priorities.

 

ITA. Is a PS kid who has a SAH parent who can help them drill in all their spare time at an "unfair" advantage over a PS kid who has two working parents and doesn't have that help drilling? As Shannon said, advantage, yes. Unfair? No. It's simply circumstance. The majority of parents are free to make the time and space in their lives to homeschool and gain that advantage. Whether or not they choose to is up to them.

 

I wouldn't worry at all what others think about it. This is your life. That's just how it is.

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Scripps attempts to address this issue with their recent rule:

 

"The speller must not eschew normal school activity to study for spelling bees. The Scripps National Spelling Bee defines normal school activity as adherence to at least four courses of study other than language arts, spelling, Latin, Greek, vocabulary, and etymology for at least four hours per weekday for 34 of the 38 weeks between September 1, 2008, and May 24, 2009."

 

This is from their website:

http://www.spellingbee.com/comp_rules.asp

It's #8 in the rules.

 

 

I've been involved in spelling bees at all levels of competition (except state - our state only has regional bees), and I really don't think homeschoolers have an unfair advantage. There are many, many more public schoolers than homeschoolers involved at the national level.

 

Three hours of spelling/language study a day is probably average (or even less than average) for all of the spellers that attend the Scripps National Bee who want to place well.

 

GardenMom

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Scripps has rules for amount of time per week a child can spend studying spelling, and amount of time that must be spent studying non-spelling-related subjects (spelling, vocabulary, word roots, etc)... And the documentaries and interviews I've seen with top spellers at the national bee indicate that there *are* kids in all school situations who push that time limit in the months preceding the bees... But it's not necessarily the home schoolers.

 

Personally, I don't have any qualms that home schoolers are at an "unfair" advantage. No more so than a kid with a dedicated stay-at-home parent vs. one whose parents work full time and have little chance to tutor them.

 

Most kids at the highest levels are both naturally gifted spellers *and* spend a great deal of time studying for the bee... You really have to have both elements to get to that point...

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I think that's like saying it's unfair if a homeschooler gets a music scholarship to a university, because a homeschooler has 4-5 hours a day to practice piano, and a public schooler doesn't. It just doesn't wash. Kids make time for the things that are important to them, no matter what kind of schooling they get.

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What do you think??

 

I think that if it's a huge concern for a parent they could simply pull their kids from school and homeschool.

 

Our choices have consequences. If a parent chooses school then one of the consequences is going to be that their kids have less time for things like spelling bees and science fairs.

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I went to a Lutheran school from K-8.

 

 

I'm a natural speller. When I was being tested on vocab words for school, I could close my eyes and see the spot on the page where a word had appeared. But when it came to spelling bee time, every night I spent at least an hour a night studying the words with my dad. It really made the difference. It kind of became my identity, for better and for worse. My dad still calls me "champ". :)

 

When I went to public school in 9th, I entered the spelling bee at school (gateway to the Scripps-Howard Bee) without practicing all that much. I was waaaaayyy overconfident and came in second place because I misspelled "heresy". After nine years in a Lutheran school, no less. :blushing: That was my one shot at the national competition, and I've always regretted my lack of preparedness.

 

I think natural ability is one of the determining factors. Some people just have the gift, yk? But I'm living proof that the gift won't get you past the finish line. You have to be willing to work harder than everyone else to be the best.

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Well, it is because life isn't fair that I hope to equip my kids with as many advantages as I can. It is an advantage that we can structure our day to concentrate both on academics and on our childrens passions. It is an advantage that we can spend extra time on both their strengths and weaknesses.

 

Many schools are abandoning spelling instruction as archaic and unnecessary in an age of spellchecker programs. They advocate allowing inventive spelling, not just as a step in the writing and editing process, but as an acceptable means of self-expression.

 

Of course if I lived in a small town, I'd say something more politic, like that success tends to follow where passion and practice went before.

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I think that's like saying it's unfair if a homeschooler gets a music scholarship to a university, because a homeschooler has 4-5 hours a day to practice piano, and a public schooler doesn't. It just doesn't wash. Kids make time for the things that are important to them, no matter what kind of schooling they get.

 

:iagree:We had some people at our church say that AWANA was unfair to their kids, because hs kids were able to study more and finish their book while their ps kid had less time. My kids spend 10-15 a day on it, and they enjoy it. Basically, no not unfair, yes, it comes down to priorities.

 

Don't worry about it, and hopefully no one will mention it to your dcs to try and bring them down. The nerve of some people.

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Not so much about the spelling bee, but there are advantages and disadvantages to every choice we make. I was really reflecting on this today in fact, as I sat in the lobby area of a state university praying and waiting for my very nervous daughter to finish her interviews and timed essay. I was eavesdropping on the various conversations going on in the room, hearing GPA's and ACT scores. I heard kids comparing educational opportunities that had not been readily available to my homeschooled daughter. Most of the other kids (56 kids vying for a mere 15 positions) had been to Governor's School and had taken AP classes and Honors Classes. They had been on Academic Decathlon teams, debate teams. They were members of the National Honor Society, they served on their school newspapers. They had all sorts of advantages over my girl.

 

Is that fair?

 

Absolutely.

 

We had things they did not have. We had time for Sarah to work as a historical interpreter, a crisis pregnancy volunteer, a mentor in Friend2Friend program. Sarah enjoyed a basically low stress high school career, she was able to juggle her studies, her work, her volunteer activities without the burnout that I am sure many of these students had experienced at some point.

 

Is that fair?

 

Absolutely.

 

Every thing we do, every choice we make is a trade-off. Today I was overwhelmed with self-doubt and worry. Did we make the right choice? Should we have forced her to go to public school? Would her ACT have been higher if she weren't homeschooled?

 

Maybe. Maybe not.

 

It's all unfair advantages whichever way you go, and therefore it is all fair.

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I wouldn't really worry about it one way or the other. The most relevant factor is one's natural spelling ability. Studying word lists probably would not give one a significant advantage like voracious reading and natural ability would.

 

My publicly schooled kid made it to the citywide event, but never bothered with studying lists. Another kid would have qualified for citywide bee but as homeschoolers we never sought it out. Another kid could not spell her way out of a can of alphabet soup.

 

Overall, I don't fret much about one school choice group having advantages over other school choice groups because, in the long run, what matters is talent and willingness to work hard. Sour grapes give rise to bellyachers.

Edited by tibbyl
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Let's be honest. If that mom's kid had won, she wouldn't have said a word. Would you have said that the ps kids have an unfair advantage? Probably not. Because life's not fair and most homeschoolers seem to have a pretty good grip on that fact.

 

I really hope her children did not hear her say those things. One thing I absolutely love is that my children are good losers. Whatever faults they may have, they can still lose gracefully and be genuinely happy for the winner. I hope that mother's child can learn the same thing.

 

Jeannie

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If acused of unfair advantage, I would smile really big and say, "Yes, that is why we homeschool. We find that it is a wonderful educational choice that allows our children to excel at many things."

 

We ran into the unfair complaint when dd was in Brownies. At the local fair, they were allowed to enter 5 different items in various categories. The items were anonymous when judged and then after the ribbons were presented, the names of the girls were placed by their entries. That year dd won all 5 categories, one of them also earning Best in Show.

 

To the mother who complained the most, I responded that perhaps she should consider homeschooling her daughter. "After all, " I exclaimed, "she is so bright and creative. I'm sure she could go really far in an educational environment like homeschooling." She stood there gaping like a fish out of water, with the ball firmly in her court. And turned around and walked away. Basically, I called her bluff and implied put up or shut up.

 

In my absolutely honest opinion, homeschoolers definitely have the advantage--that of involved, committed parents who take the time to make space for their children to succeed. Public school parents have plenty of opportunities to do the same, but are often so caught up in that system that they never recognise those opportunities. Those who do usually have children who do equally well.

 

So I think if we bring up the real issue, which is whether the parent is giving plenty of appropriate support, most detractors will slink away in shame.

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Well, my dd was surprised to find out a few of her friends didn't even know about it the next day. Usually the school announces the winners over the speaker but dd thinks they didn't this time. Both dd and ds still have friends in the school and do attend chorus there as well, so they would've liked to have their names announced, even if they weren't there to hear it. I have no way of knowing so I guess we'll always wonder. I'm just glad dd is having a good time.

 

I'm also glad to hear that study restrictions are in the rules. That will help me in motivating dd in her schoolwork on her less than stellar days! :-)

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Scripps attempts to address this issue with their recent rule:

 

"The speller must not eschew normal school activity to study for spelling bees. The Scripps National Spelling Bee defines normal school activity as adherence to at least four courses of study other than language arts, spelling, Latin, Greek, vocabulary, and etymology for at least four hours per weekday for 34 of the 38 weeks between September 1, 2008, and May 24, 2009."

 

This is from their website:

http://www.spellingbee.com/comp_rules.asp

It's #8 in the rules.

 

 

 

 

How on *earth* would they ever monitor something like that? Seriously. Well I suppose for ps they could just look at forms and schedules and such, but how would that work for homeschoolers? There are *so* many different ways of hs'ing - and many people don't follow a specific hourly schedule or keep detailed records, especially at the younger ages....

 

(How would it ever work for an unschooler???)

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My take: Abilities being assumed equal, yes, homeschoolers have an advantage in competitive endeavours that are solitary in practice - like bees. Institutionally schooled kids have an advantage in performing arts and sports.

 

The difference here appears to be that homeschoolers have to seek out opportunities for their children to participate in their area of talent. They have to go the extra mile to get their football player attention for scholarships, or seek out a performance orchestra.

 

I think public school parents come from the place of assuming an artificially level playing field, whereas we look for ways to leverage our assets. ;)

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If acused of unfair advantage, I would smile really big and say, "Yes, that is why we homeschool. We find that it is a wonderful educational choice that allows our children to excel at many things."

 

RIGHT! Homeschool kids have an advantage, but not an UNFAIR one. Where there is a will, there's a way.

 

I think public school parents come from the place of assuming an artificially level playing field, whereas we look for ways to leverage our assets.

 

I agree :)

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I was a PS spelling kid (made it to 11th place in the national bee) and never felt that HS kids had an advantage, other than that they likely knew Latin. Knowing at least cursory Latin (and possibly Greek) would put you at a huge advantage. Totally my fault I didn't learn Latin to do the bees, though, so IMO not an *unfair* advantage.

 

Also...maybe I was a participant before the time-limit rules were put in place, but even as a PS student, my mom *pushed* me to study constantly (hours upon hours -- instead of playing with friends) to the exclusion of everything else in my life at one point. While I was sad when I left 8th grade and was no longer eligible, it was also a HUGE relief to me not to be put under so much pressure anymore.

 

If your child has the interest (I did -- at first...), this is a great activity. When the parents take it more seriously than the child does though, and it ceases to be fun, I would say you should take a break or stop altogether.

 

Just my opinion.

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"The speller must not eschew normal school activity to study for spelling bees. The Scripps National Spelling Bee defines normal school activity as adherence to at least four courses of study other than language arts, spelling, Latin, Greek, vocabulary, and etymology for at least four hours per weekday for 34 of the 38 weeks between September 1, 2008, and May 24, 2009."

 

They couldn't ever monitor that. And it would be problematic even for some private and public schooled kids.

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I have a friend who thinks this and it has been on my mind since my 2 dc won 1st and 2nd grade in our ps Spelling Bee. I'm wondering if it bothers the ps that it was homeschoolers who won. My kids didn't spend hours studying, they had their usual activities and school work to do, but spelling time was spent studying spelling words rather than vocabulary. They're just naturally good spellers but I'm now hoping nobody poo-poos their hard work but saying they had an unfair advantage. People around here have pretty strong opinions & I can see something like this becoming an issue. We live in such a small town.

 

What do you think??

 

The snide me wants to say that of course they have an unfair advantage-they are getting an education. The more relaxed side however would win out and declare this sour grapes on the part of those who can't stand to see further proof that homeschooling can be very successful.

 

What is the alternative-remove the "M" section from all homeschooler's dictionaries as a handicap?

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sounds like sour grapes, bad sportsmanship, and simple jealousy to me.

 

the advantage is kids who work their bums off and parents who encourage them in their chosen endeavor.

 

and if those other parents would rather spout sour grapes than work on obtaining the same advantages in whatever way they can, then that's their choice. it doesn't seem like a smart reaction to me. seems to me they'd get better results from learning what they can do to improve rather than whining.

 

I really have no patience for this. I think it's a horrid example to set for the kids.

 

If my kid were on a homeschool sports team and lost to a public/private school team that had the facilities and personel to practice every day after school, I would NOT tolorate comments like that from my kid or anyone else on his team. No. I and my kid would smile in good nature, shake hands with the winner, and take whatever positive learning for improvements we can from the experience. We would not be whining about how it's not fair they used whatever resources they could to improve their game.

 

ducking tomatos, but that's honestly how I feel about it.:auto:

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:iagree:When we were attending church it was obvious that our home educated kids had better reading skills, spelling, grammar, and better Bible knowledge than the ps kids. Their Sunday School teachers noticed at all levels. Our dc have an advantage everywhere they go. Our local ps didn't "do" spelling the last I heard.

Advantage? Yes. Unfair? No.

 

If I were you, I would not spend one second thinking about what others may think. Who cares? I mean, isn't this why we homeschool? Not to win spelling bees, of course, but because we believe it to be better for our kids (one might say, to give them an advantage in life and learning)?

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My kids are half homeschooled and half public schooled. They go to school until lunch then I pick them up for homeschool in the afternoon. People at school may think we are a bit strange for choosing to do this but we are definitely part of the school community. If this was a school spelling bee then the school uses it as a motivation for the kids at school to learn and a celebration of success. If the child who won the school spelling bee didn't go to the school then they are not one of their own. Its less motivating and less to celebrate for the school. I'm not saying that homeschoolers shouldn't enter school spelling bees. I just think I understand how it would be surprising and disappointing to the kids and parents at least the first time it happens. A school district spelling bee would be better because you wouldn't expect the winner to come from any particular school so homeschoolers are not that different from the other entries. But at any particular elementary school, homeschoolers really are different. They don't go to the school. They aren't part of the school community. The kids and parents may have felt robbed of the prize and looked for reasons that it isn't fair.

 

Times are changing and people need to catch up. The school community includes homeschoolers now. SOme of them half time, some of them for sports and clubs, some of them for spelling bees. I see a glimpse of the future where the public schoolers will feel most successful if they win over a homeschooler. That means you are really good!

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I was a spelling bee kid, way back when (certainly before all those study time rules!). I was in PS. My first school bee, they stupidly scheduled for the VERY DAY of the city bee ... I won the school bee by sheer luck, my mom asked when the next one was, and they consulted their list. Oops. We left that minute, to get there in time. Obviously, I had no time to study the next level of words!

 

So, yeah, a homeschool kid would've had an advantage in that case, LOL, because they would've actually had the information to succeed! On the other hand, at that time, I'm not sure they were accepting homeschoolers in our area bees.

 

I participated in bees straight through high school (our state has two, the one that goes to national, and another 'brand' of bee that only went to state and was all the way through high school). I studied hard, but not excessively ... didn't do Latin, held a part-time job, all that sort of thing. My winning or losing was dependent on what *I* did, not what advantages someone else may or may not have had. There is always going to be one word that stumps even the best speller, and every speller knows that. Sometimes it's just 'luck' that your stumper came later than someone else's. (Obviously, studying hard improves your odds!)

 

I think we do have the advantage of flexibility ... but so do PS parents, they just have to work it differently. My mom helped me study. It took time out of her evenings, but she did it because she knew it mattered to me. She made opportunities for me. It can be done, if you just look. (I do understand that there are situations where there aren't so many choices ... but I think not so many as some people want to believe.)

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How on *earth* would they ever monitor something like that? Seriously. Well I suppose for ps they could just look at forms and schedules and such, but how would that work for homeschoolers? There are *so* many different ways of hs'ing - and many people don't follow a specific hourly schedule or keep detailed records, especially at the younger ages....

 

(How would it ever work for an unschooler???)

 

I have no idea - that's why I wrote that Scripps "attempts" to address this issue with their recent rule. You can email them and ask them, if you like. The folks that do the national bee are very nice, and I'm sure they will come up with a reasonable sounding answer. If you do, please post - I'd love to hear about it!

 

A lot of things can count for "school," besides textbook learning.

Playing outside with siblings = P.E. or Science/Nature class

Chores/cooking/grocery shopping = Home Economics

Pet care = P.E. again or animal nutrition

Watching littles while Mom teaches someone one on one = Early Childhood Development

Then there are music, crafts, sports, etc. I'll bet we'd be really impressed with ourselves if we wrote it all down!

 

I guess the important thing to remember is that when one of our children wins the national bee to remind them NOT to say, "I spent ALL of my time studying spelling!" to the press. :)

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I say that to my dc a lot. Is it fair that my dh has a brain that I would LOVE to have? Why, as a matter of fact, yes, it is. Is it fair that some people are naturally talented at the piano? Yes, it is fair.

 

The idea that everything has to be fair is so misguided.

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If this was a school spelling bee then the school uses it as a motivation for the kids at school to learn and a celebration of success. If the child who won the school spelling bee didn't go to the school then they are not one of their own. Its less motivating and less to celebrate for the school.

 

hmm, I know schools do that, but frankly I think they need to get a clue. They did that when I was in school too and it never played that way with the students to my knowledge. I never once remember thinking, "oh that kid at my school won whatever so that means I should work harder at it." and I can't for the life of me remember any other kid thinking like that either. Most of the time it was, "huh? who won what when and why would I care?":lol:

 

Times are changing and people need to catch up. The school community includes homeschoolers now.

 

do not presume that because this is true for you or in your area that it is the case for others or elsewhere.

 

or that all homeschoolers would want it to be that way either.

 

written in a totally friendly just saying manner...:auto:

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