In a world full of extracurricular programs, why consider homeschool speech and debate?
Competitive homeschool speech and debate is a great way for high schoolers to cultivate many different lifelong skills.
Students usually write speeches, research for debate, and practice during the fall. Competition starts in January and lasts through the end of the spring semester, with national championships taking place in June. Two main organizations facilitate homeschool speech and debate: the National Christian Forensics and Communications Association (NCFCA), and Stoa.
So, what does it look like?
Students have the opportunity to participate in three basic types of speeches: interpretations, limited preparation, and platforms.
These categories cover dramatizing a piece of literature, speaking off the cuff on a previously unknown topic, and preparing a “traditional” speech on a certain topic.
Additionally, there are a variety of specific speech events within each basic type, which allows students to explore a wide range of creative outlets.
In debate, students can compete in Lincoln-Douglas value debate or Team Policy debate.
Through philosophical value resolutions and relevant policy resolutions, students will think critically about important issues.
In addition, they will learn to reason logically, understand philosophies and their consequences, and speak convincingly. Integrity and respect are emphasized as students argue their points, rather than attacking their opponent.
But wait…there’s more to it
Competitive speech and debate creates a well-rounded student. It can provide:
- Speaking skills – While there is the occasional exception, most of us don’t feel comfortable speaking in public. The motivation of competition, and a passion for their topic, pushes students to excel in this area that most avoid. As a result, blushing and stumbling novices blossom into confident and persuasive speakers.
- Research – In addition, this activity requires extensive research. Students learn to effectively find and use the statistics, expert opinions, and stories necessary to compete with academic integrity.
- Platform – Where else does a high schooler have a captive audience to hear them passionately explain the historical basis for states’ rights, the advances of 3D printing, or the benefits of sunlight? In this way, competitive speech and debate offers a unique opportunity for young people to share their passions and interests.
Finally, competitive speech and debate makes a lifelong impact. Through competition, students must balance a motivation to win with humility and perspective. Wins and losses can sometimes seem subjective, and the right focus is key. Both NCFCA and Stoa emphasize using competition to bring God glory, above all.
Homeschool speech and debate is a great way for students to make friends, speak well, and think critically. But most importantly, it is yet another tool to give your children as they learn to “do all to the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31)
About the author: Magali Laporte is a recent homeschool graduate. She lives in rural(ish) Kansas with her parents and two younger siblings. As an entrepreneur, she has pursued her passion for teaching through working as a homeschool helper and debate coach, and is working towards her certification as a labor doula.