Sunday, November 22, 2015

Homeschool Speech & Debate

Have you ever done something in your homeschool that has had a global affect on your children?  For us, it's forensics.

Two years ago, our kids joined, Atlantic Speech & Debate, a homeschooling speech & debate club affiliated wth the National Christian Forensics and Communications Association (NCFCA).  Wait!  What! A Christian speech league for this Jewish family?

We were extremely fortunate that the league allowed us to join them. In order to be members, we sign a form each year stating that we understand that it is a Conservative Christian league and that we will abide by the rules and not rock the boat.  It's an easy agreement for me to sign because the people in the league are just wonderful and the training our kids are receiving is superb.

We joined the year the kids were working on B'Nei Mitzvah prep.  Shira is very shy and I was worried that they would freeze during their Bat Mitzvah.  I figured that public speaking experience prior to the B'nei Mitzvah prep would be an excellent idea.

I dragged the kids, kicking and screaming, to club for the first year.  They were so ticked off with me, and complained incessantly.  After the first tournament, they grudgingly admitted that they would like to do a second year of speech and debate. After the first tournament of the 2nd year, both kids begged, begged I tell you, to go to more tournaments that year.

This is our third year and our kids adore going to club, love preparing speeches and are excited about the first tournament of the year (Jan 7-9 in VA Beach).

I'm stunned at the changes we've seen in the kids.  Their confidence levels have improved dramatically. Shira will speak to groups of people with confidence (before, they refused point blank to speak to groups) and Ben has learned to better organize his thoughts and to communicate effectively.

This year the kids are going to be competing in extemporaneous for the first time.  This is a limited prep event where the competitors have 20 minutes to prepare an up-to 7 minute speech on one of two topics they draw.  To be effective in this category, competitors have to keep up to date with all current events and have to understand the history leading up to the event.

Extemp, one little speech category in a forensics tournament, has completely changed our kids (for the better, I might add). They have become news hounds and conversation at the dinner table has become so much fun.  They are thinking about the news they read. They are delving into the news in an attempt to sift through the propaganda and most importantly, they are seeing how almost everything is nuanced.  

I can't wait for them to be old enough to vote because they will be informed voters. They are following the Presidential election process very intently and see all the inconsistencies in the candidates speeches and proposed policies.

I think that speech (and/or debate) should be a part of every homeschool plan.

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