Monday, May 22, 2017

From the Homeschool Front...Competitive Speaking by Colleen Hroncich

As I mentioned in a previous post, one of my goals in educating my children at home is to raise adults who can think critically. While there are many tools that I use to help accomplish this objective, competitive speech and debate probably tops the list. Whether you are a professional teacher, a homeschooler, or a concerned parent, I urge you to look into speech and debate opportunities for your children/students.

The most obvious benefit of competitive speaking is that the kids become better public speakers. (Duh, you’re probably thinking!) No one who knew my oldest daughter in elementary school ever would have predicted that in her sophomore year she’d be top speaker out of 56 debaters at a tournament drawing kids from throughout New England. My younger kids have followed her lead and are better public speakers (at ages 14, 12, and 10) than many adults.

While public speaking proficiency is important, the ability to analyze what they read, look at issues from multiple sides, draw conclusions based on in-depth research, quickly evaluate a question or argument and formulate a response, and remain friends with opponents after a heated debate are equally valuable takeaways from speech and debate. Although I must admit that it can be disconcerting when your child spots the flaws in your reasoning and calls you on it!

If you’re a homeschooler, there are several leagues you can consider: NCFCA, Stoa, and CCA are three with which I’m familiar. For teachers at public or private schools the leagues I know of are NSDA and NCFL. Homeschoolers can form teams in NCFL (we did that this year), but they have to go through their local public school to compete in NSDA. Different leagues are more popular in various regions of the country.


If you’d like more information, please let me know in the comments. If I don’t know the answer to your questions, I can probably direct you to someone who does.

Colleen Hroncich loves that homeschooling allows her to learn right alongside her children. A published author and former policy analyst, Colleen’s favorite subjects are economics/public policy and history. She has been active in several homeschool co-ops and is a speech and debate coach.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

From the Homeschool Front...Life Skills by Colleen Hroncich

Life skills. Way back in the old days, parents and grandparents passed life skills on to the younger generations. Basic carpentry, plumbing, home repairs, sewing, food preservation, and more were common knowledge to most people. Not anymore. These days it is a challenge to find someone with one of these skills – much less all of them.

Several years ago it occurred to me that neither my husband nor I had any of these life skills. How would we pass them on to our kids when we didn’t possess them ourselves? Moreover, with the school calendar ruling our lives, how would we ever find the time for the kids to learn them from someone else? This problem was one of the initial motivators in our decision to begin educating our children at home.

Of course, having the kids at home didn’t solve the problem of us not having the skills to pass on to them. For that we’ve had to use outside resources. Fortunately, in the homeschool world these skills aren’t so hard to find. Friends of ours have given our kids lessons in sewing, knitting, gardening, and construction. My son was able to help the contractor who finished our basement and learned how to frame walls, hang drywall, and install electrical boxes (although we won’t let him try that one on his own!). He and I went on to build beds for him and my daughter – we even added a bookcase headboard to his.


My girls weren’t too interested in carpentry work; the culinary arts appeal to them. They’ve taken classes in cooking, canning, and gardening. My oldest daughter takes on meal planning and preparation a few days a month, and her sister wants to follow suit. (I don’t like to cook, so it works for me!)

We still have a long ways to go before I can say my kids are proficient at these life skills. But at least we’re farther down the road than we were a few years ago.


Colleen Hroncich loves that homeschooling allows her to learn right alongside her children. A published author and former policy analyst, Colleen’s favorite subjects are economics/public policy and history. She has been active in several homeschool co-ops and is a speech and debate coach.