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                 Information, Inspiration, and Encouragement
    From a Distinctively Christian Perspective of Home Education
Cindy Short and Sue Welch, Co-Editors   /

Table of Contents
How To Make National Contests
     a Learning Experience
      •  Benefits of Participating in a Competition
      •  The Ins and Outs of a Competition
      •  Integrating Contests into a Curriculum
      •  Updated List of More Than 55 National Contests
Recommended Resources
     The Teaching Home Back Issues
     MathFundamentals: Complement any Math Curriculum
     Money Camp at Home Curriculum
Sunnyside Up: Humorous Anecdote


     In this issue we talk about competition.  This is an issue
that requires a delicate balance in our own lives and our
     On the one hand, if we look at someone else and think that
they are doing better than we are, we could become discouraged.
     On the other hand, we could be challenged and encouraged by
another's good example when we see what might be possible in our
own lives.

      Let us consider how to stimulate one another
          to love and good deeds,
     not forsaking our own assembling together,
          as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another;
     and all the more as you see the day drawing near.
          (Hebrews 10:24-25)

     May the Lord bless you and your family for His glory.

The Pat Welch Family, Publishers
Pat, Sue, Heather, Holly, and Brian
The Teaching Home is a home-school, family-run business
operated in our home since 1980.


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How To Make National Contests
a Learning Experience

Benefits of Participating in a Competition

1.  Motivation
     One of the best ways for children to learn is to actively
participate in something they care about. Contests are great
learning motivators.

2.  Knowledge and Skills
     A competition can provide a practical learning experience
which results in expanded academic knowledge and improved skills.

3.  Character
     The character qualities of persistence and diligence are
called for in working on a long-range goal such as some contests

4.  Direction and Confidence
     Entering contests can help children uncover lifelong
interests, gain a sense of responsibility, learn to think for
themselves, and ask questions -- all of which can boost their

5.  Practical Life Skills
     Children also develop everyday skills such as how to work
with others, fill out applications, follow guidelines, keep
records, meet deadlines, and organize their work.

6.  Rewards
     A contest implies rewards.  Besides the intangible rewards
of accomplishment and recognition, prizes are offered which are
sometimes quite substantial or are in the form of a scholarship.
Expense-free travel to a national event might also be included.


The Ins and Outs of a Competition

1.  Explain Competition
     Teach your child about competition and how it can spur one
on to greater accomplishments.  (See 1 Corinthians 9:24-27;
Philippians 3:14; II Timothy 4:7-8.)
     Whether or not your child wins a prize, the contest can be
used to teach him about being a good sport by handling success
modestly and disappointment graciously.

2.  Prize or Participation
     Even if your child doesn't win a prize, taking part in a
contest can be a positive experience. You can request
participation certificates from the contest sponsor ahead of time
or create certificates yourself.

3.  Be a Good Example
     People and the press will often judge the home-school
community by the actions of home-school students in the spotlight
of a national contest.  We should teach our children godly
principles and how to be good examples both as Christians and as
home schoolers.
     Many home-school students have won national contests,
thereby lending credibility to home education.

4.  Observe the Rules
     It takes careful study to understand all the rules of some
contests.  If you have questions, be sure to contact the contest

     Tip: Check out last year's winning entries (you
     can often find these on the contest's website)
     to get an idea of what the judges are looking for.

5.  Deadlines
     You may have several deadlines to meet, the first being your
     Organize and plan the work on your contest by breaking the
whole into smaller goals and setting your own deadlines for each.
     Be sure to allow enough time to do your best on the contest
and to realize all the benefits possible.

6.  Costs
     Some contests require an entry fee, and some contests might
necessitate other expenditures that you should be aware of up
     Check to see if you need to pay for your own travel to a
national event.


     Put the FUN Back into the Teaching
     and Learning of Mathematics!
     Designed for home schooling families.  The everyday
experiences and games described in this series complement any math
curriculum you use, or you can use them as your primary source of
instruction.  Also available are e-books and a free newsletter.


Integrating Contests into a Curriculum

1.  Choose a contest carefully.
     You may want to choose a contest with a certain learning
goal in mind. For example, you may want to use an essay contest
to strengthen writing and reading skills as well as to expand
knowledge of the assigned topic.  Ask your children what topics
they would like to pursue.
     The sponsor or purpose of the contest might affect your
decision.  If you do not believe the United States should share
its authority with the United Nations, then you would probably
not want to write an essay on the topic. (We didn't list that

2.  Prepare.
     For a contest to work successfully, you should know exactly
what is needed -- skills, materials, entry fees, contest rules,
     You as the parent might want to try the contest yourself
(e.g., write a sample essay on the topic) for full understanding
of what's involved.

3.  Learn about the history or background
     of the contest subject.
     This will not only give your children a valuable history lesson,
but it will also help them gain a greater insight into their contest
theme or subject.
     Read books and magazines or listen to music. For example,
if your children are entering a poetry contest, have them read
different kinds of poetry.

4.  Take field trips.
     Use any opportunities available locally which relate to your
contest. For example, if your children are participating in an
environmental protection program, arrange a trip to a nature

5.  Broaden specific contest activity to create
     a unit study.
     If your children are entering a writing contest, have them
create artwork or crafts that relate to their subject; if they
enter an art competition, have them write an essay about the

6.  Maintain a resource-filled environment.
     Provide access to dictionaries, atlases, almanacs, and an
     Teach children how to safely and efficiently use the
internet as well as traditional resources.

7.  Information Packs.
      You might want to start collecting information on a few
topics of interest to your children. Label an extra large
envelope for each topic and fill it with clippings, pictures,
articles, statistics, notes, etc., on that topic.
     These information packs will be a great resource for your
children during contest time.
     Many contests will provide educational information as well
as how to comply with the contest rules.

8.  Have your children maintain portfolios.
     Include drafts and final copies of writing, or sketches and
photos of artwork or projects. These records are great for
showing the improvement in students' abilities as well as the
work that was done.

9.  Furnish a Biblical perspective.
     Many contests will be secular in nature.  You can furnish a
spiritual dimension by using a Bible concordance, dictionary, or
encyclopedia to study what the Bible says about your subject.

     Acknowledgment:  Some ideas were suggested by Laurie
Bluedorn of Trivium Pursuit.


     Learning How Money Works
     Shouldn't Be an Elective!
     Our Money Camp at Home Curriculum teaches the importance
of saving and investing, and why it's critical to start early.  Visit for a free lesson. Call 805-957-1024
to start giving your children a financial head start today!


Save This List for Future Reference
Updated List of More Than 55 National Contests

1.  Deadlines
     We have not noted the deadlines because some are rather
complicated with local, regional, and national competitions.
     These are yearly contests.  If a deadline has just been
passed, there will be another one next year.
     Use the time to research and decide what contests you want
to enter and start preparing ahead of time.  You could even do a
sample entry for practice.

2.  Individual or Team Entries
     Some of these contests can be entered by either an
individual or a team.
     You may want to take advantage of the cooperation provided
by a team effort -- either within your own family or with

3.  Local Science Fairs
     Don't forget your support group's science fair.
     For ideas and information, read free articles online at Home
Science Tools website.
     "Designing a Science Fair Project"
     "Science Fairs & The Scientific Method"

     In the parenthesis after the name of the contest,
I = Individual Entry; T = Team Entry; followed by grade levels.


Language Arts

Book It! Reading Incentive Program (I, -8)

Vision Forum's Henty Essay Contest (I)
     Topic: “How G.A. Henty's works affirm boys and girls in
     their rightful roles as men and women.”
Patriot's Pen Youth Essay Contest (I, 6-8; law
     students)  Theme "Who Are Today's Patriots?"
Civil Rights Defense Fund Writing Contests (I, 1-12)
The Laws of Life Essay Contest
National Council of Teachers of English
Sons of the American Revolution's George S. & Stella M. Knight
     Essay Contest (I, 10-12)

National Scholastic Press
IWPA High School Journalism Contest (I, 9-12)
Student Publishing Awards

Spelling, Vocabulary, and Handwriting
Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee (I, -8)
     Spelling, vocabularies, and English usage.
The Readers Digest National Word Power Challenge (I, 4-8)
National Handwriting Contest (I, 1-8)

Foreign Languages
National Biblical Greek Exam
National French Contest (I, 1-12)


Math, Science and Technology
Siemens Westinghouse Competition in Math, Science, and
     Technology  (I, 9-12)

Math Olympiads (I, 4-8)
Math League's Homeschool Contests (I, 4-12)
Mathcounts (I, 7-8)
The Mathematical Association of America's American
     Mathematics Contests (I, 6-12)
American Regions Math League
The Art of Problem Solving Foundation
     USA Mathematical Talent Search

Science & Technology
Invent America! (I, K-8)
Science Olympiad (I/T, K-12)
Team America Rocketry Challenge (T, 7-12)
Hydro Power Contest (I/T, 9+)
West Point Bridge Design Contest (I/T, 7-12)
U.S.A. Biology Olympiad (I, 9-12)
Intel Science Talent Search (I, 12)
Discovery Channel Young Scientist Challenge (I, 5-8)
Technology Education for Today's Youth

Computer, Vocational
Think Quest Internet Challenge (T, ages 9-19)
Computer Science Contest (I/T, 7-12)
USA Computing Olympiad (I, 7-12)
The Skills USA Championships
     Career and technical skills; 77 separate events.


History & Geography
National History Day Contest (I/T, 6-12)
     Exhibit, documentary, paper, or performance.
National Geography Bee (I, 4-8)


The Arts
National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts (9-12)
     Identifies artists in the performing, literary, and visual arts.

Art and Crafts
The Wildlife Forever State-Fish Art Contest (I, 4-12)
American Morgan Horse Association Contests (I, all ages)
     Art and photo.
Arbor Day Poster Contest (I, 5)
Make It Yourself with Wool Contest! (I, all ages)
     Encourages creativity in sewing, knitting, and crocheting.

Music Teachers National Association Student Competitions
The National Association for Music Education (9-college)

Filmmaking and TV
Vision Forum's San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival
Foundation of the National Academy of Television Arts and
     Sciences.  (I, 9-12)  National Student Television Award for


Speech & Debate
The National Christian Forensics and Communications Association
     Home school students age 12-18.  Formal speech and debate.
National Forensic League
     Speech Tournament and Student Congress.
The American Legion's National High School Oratorical Contest (I, 9-12)
     To develop a deeper knowledge and appreciation of the
     Constitution of the United States.
Sons of the American Revolution's Joseph S. Rumbaugh Historical
     Oration Contest (I, 10-12)
 Veterans of Foreign Wars' Voice of Democracy (9-12)
     Audio essay, "How I Demonstrate My Freedom."



U.S. Chess Federation (I, K-12)

Stamp Collecting
Rocky Mountain Philatelic Exhibition (I, age 21 and under)

National Junior Horticultural Association Contests (I/T)
     Eighteen contests.

List of 140+ Contests
     This National Advisory List of Student Contests and
Activities has been produced by the National Association of
Secondary School Principals who have reviewed and recommended


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Sunnyside Up
     Our 5-year-old son and a friend were caught picking a
neighbor's tomatoes and smashing them on the ground.
     When my husband got home, he took them to the neighbor's
house and made the boys tell our neighbor what they had done and
apologize. That evening our son received a spanking, and the
next day my husband put the boys "to work" all afternoon.
     After dinner we were all sitting around the table while my
husband reviewed our daughter's Bible lesson.  When he asked,
"Who took the punishment for our sins?,"  our son very seriously
said, "I did!"
     Submitted by Shelley H.


God Loves You.
     Because we have been separated from God by sin, Jesus
Christ died in our place, then rose to life again.  If we trust
Him as our Savior and Lord, He will give us eternal life.
     "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that
not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of
works, that no one should boast" (Ephesians 2:8, 9).


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