Most Wednesdays (or thereabouts) I’ve been recording a Curiosity Journal to recap the previous week using these tag words: reading, playing, learning, reacting and writing. Sometimes I mix up the order, just to keep you on your toes.
Not much reading time available during this speech and debate tournament.
For my birthday last Friday, we ate at Noodles & Company where I ordered Pad Thai. Because of an unexpectedly long wait, they gave us free drinks.
When we came home, the family threw together chocolate fondue. My son stirred the chocolate and soy creamer for the sauce, the girls cut up fruit, and my husband squished together three marshmallows to hold up my birthday candle.
An amusing, playful cupcake substitute for a girl avoiding gluten.
Not much writing happening during this speech and debate tournament.
My eldest daughter did a great job on her speech—the best she could possibly do—yet did not advance. My youngest daughter advanced to semifinals in the event she thought she had flubbed up, and didn’t advance in the categories in which she thought she might have a chance.
They are learning (and I’m reminded) that all you can do is prepare, practice, tweak, practice more. Then go out there and do the best you possibly can, trusting God with the results.
You can try to predict the outcome, but in the end, you just never know.
If you told me last year that my kids would develop speaking, organizational, research, writing, editing, creative expression, and critical-thinking skills through participation in only one “class,” and that this class would accomplish all of this without grades or standard academic rewards—I’d have responded, “Impossible!”
And if you told me that my kids would also, in this same class, discover inner motivation, confidence, poise, and respectful interaction with both peers and adults while proudly dressed in professional attire, I’d say, “You’re kidding me! I’ll believe it when I see it.”
Well, I’m seeing it.
My kids joined a speech and debate club, and throughout fall, I continued to doubt. Would my daughter ever truly know enough about the United Nations to debate the team policy resolution (“Resolved: the United Nations should be significantly reformed or abolished”)? Would she and her sisters really be able to act in these skits or write and memorize ten-minute speeches?
When the kids missed deadlines and appeared unmotivated, I questioned whether or not we should even continue. I went ahead and bought a debate box (pictured above) for my daughter’s December birthday, all the while worrying, Maybe this isn’t a good fit? What if she quits?
But then tournament season began, and something awakened in my kids.
They wanted it.
They wanted to do well. They wanted to improve, to feel proud of their work, to overcome their fears, to stand tall and proud that they took a risk and grew stronger for it.
They wanted to hear their name called when semifinalists are announced.
Semifinals, you see, are the ticket to regionals, which is a by-invitation-only tournament.
Our third daughter originally focused on debate, but by the third tournament, she decided to try her hand at some speeches. She added a duo (a two-person skit, performed with her debate partner), and then a humorous interpretation (a one-person skit). Later she added impromptu (pick a topic, take two minutes prep time, then walk in and give a five-minute speech using no notes).
Another of my daughters wrote a persuasive speech and delivered it multiple times at two tournaments, gaining confidence as she locked it in her memory. Each time she presents it, she’s practicing eye contact and emphasizing certain words to add a more urgent tone and call to action. This girl who hates to get in front of people discovered she can do more than survive giving a speech: she can give it multiple times, better and better each time.
I never imagined myself in this world of speech and debate, but here we are…I mean, literally, we are at a tournament even as I type. And though I am exhausted from the grueling schedule, and though we incur travel expenses, and though I feel inadequate as a judge when recruited, and though my heart sinks when I witness their disappointment at not advancing, I still feel this is the best investment of time and money I have ever made in my kids’ K-12 education.
The club is a Christian organization, and leaders point the students to Christ throughout the experience.
All of these skills the kids are developing? Give them to Jesus. Letdowns, disappointments and mess-ups? Give it to Jesus. Any wins? Any glory? Give it all to Jesus.
For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen. (Romans 11:36)
Cheryl Smith says
Not much time for reading here either. Glad to see your kids enjoying this new journey, and see how you’re supporting them along the way!
I’m absolutely fascinated with this experience. I never could have predicted what I’m witnessing.
Oh Ann, I’m so glad you’re seeing this kind of growth. Learning to communicate effectively is a priceless skill. I love how you said this:
“Each time she presents it, she’s practicing eye contact and emphasizing certain words to add a more urgent tone and call to action. This girl who hates to get in front of people discovered she can do more than survive giving a speech: she can give it multiple times, better and better each time.”
Our kids have something to say — they have ways to impact their world that God has prepared for them. Learning to speak well gives them one less hurdle to really living out the calling God has for them.
I rejoice with you!
Julie, you reinforced that need for quality communication last year, when we enjoyed our lengthy conversations in the kitchen.
I wish my daughter had advanced to semifinals, just to receive that affirmation. Nevertheless, she is a rock star in my book–she’s gone beyond what I ever would have imagined. She will probably never be the type to seek out a speaking opportunity, but when she is thrust into a situation and forced to say a few words, she now knows she can do it.
And she has a cute suit to wear, too! 🙂
Thank you for REJO!CE-ing with me! 🙂
Lynn Hopper says
Your comment about the daughter who didn’t score in the category she expected; and excelled in places she didn’t expect reminded me of your time in Junior Miss. Coming off track season, we assumed you’d do well in youth fitness; it was the ONLY one you didn’t win!
So true! Yes, I still remember how astonished I was not only to be overlooked in fitness (couldn’t pull off those cute routines), but also to win in categories I was unprepared to excel at. Me? Poise and appearance? Crazy!
You picked a good dress for me. 🙂
This whole experience you describe makes me cling to hope. They must find their own way sometimes, I suppose. And happy belated birthday, my friend! It sounds like a sweet celebration.
I’m trying to figure out how my kids can find the thing that they will “own.” But they must also “own” the less pleasant, less fun, but necessary aspects of their lives, as well. How can we convince them to “own” those things, too?
Hazel Moon says
YEA YEA (that is me applauding your kids for their great speeches)
Thank you, Hazel! I will pass along your cheers and applause to my girls! And thank you for sharing in my parental amazement at their willingness to step into these moments and take risks.
Megan Willome says
I love that last paragraph, the conclusion.
Right now, my daughter is going out for something she has no experience in. She wants it very badly. We’ll find out tomorrow night. Either way, “give it to Jesus.”
I’m trying to learn how to do this and encourage the kids to do the same.
That snowstorm provided a nice little break from the hectic pace of the tournament! 🙂
Although two speech rounds had to be canceled, the rest was much needed and appreciated!
It is so much fun to see families and students bitten by the speech and debate bug.
I have to say yes, yes and yes! I know exactly what you mean about feeling inadequate to judge, and navigating the parenting in the midst of disappointments of not advancing. And indeed, so worth the time and investment (and it is quite an investment on various levels). This experience stretches both the children and the parents, in a good way! I have told several others I think this is one of the best choices we have made in our homeschooling journey.
I love the last paragraph, and couldn’t agree more. Give it all to Jesus, all of it.
Ann Kroeker says
I wonder how those extra rounds might have affected the outcome? Probably not much. And I agree–the break was fabulous. You make a good point, about how much this stretches the parents, too. I have to give it to Jesus, as well as encouraging my kids to do the same.