Spotlight on the Crew — Speech and Debate

{This week’s Spotlight on the Crew article is brought to you from Wendy, at  Homeschooling Blessings.

Do you have a child who is very bright, loves to argue, and is sure that he knows everything? If so, then you might want to consider enrolling him in a speech and debate class! Ok, I’m kidding about thinking that he knows everything (sort of!), but I’m not kidding about having him participate in a speech and debate class.

This past school year was the first year that my son (age 15) ever participated in our homeschool support group’s speech and debate class. We had considered having him participate before, but we never made the commitment until last year. (The students could choose to participate in either speech or debate or both. We did both, so I’ll mostly refer to “speech and debate” as one class.)

I have to begin by saying that I was extremely surprised at how much my son learned while taking this class! It was not easy, and he had to work hard and was very challenged by not only the teachers but also the other students—especially those who had done speech and debate before. The students had lots of fun, but they were very serious about representing our local homeschool group well and about knowing their speeches as well as their debate material.

“Noah spends some down time with a friend’s little sister during a local speech and debate tournament this past spring.”

I was very happy that he was challenged and had to work hard! My son has always been a good student, but he also gets bored easily. And to be completely honest, he doesn’t enjoy doing a lot of research and/or oral presentations. For this class, though, he had to do those things on a regular basis. It required him to get out of his comfort zone, to work hard, to speak in front of his classmates as well as other people at tournaments, and to keep up with assignments and have them ready on time. My son is not naturally an organized person, so these things were really difficult for him! The progress he made, though, shows that it is possible for him to improve in those areas.

To be honest, there were times during the year that I just wanted to let him quit the class. The teachers were fantastic, the other students were great, but it was a lot of work! And my son, needless to say, wasn’t in favor of adding more work to his load. My husband and I thought that it was important for him, though, to be able to speak in front of people and to and to stand up for others—including his future family.

For speech, the class used a book called Milestones Communications: Speech Textbook A by Joanne J. Quan. The book covered everything from the different types of speeches to how to choose and present a good speech topic to using prep time efficiently. Having never taken speech before, the book was very helpful! We needed to start with the very basics, and the book gave us so much information!

For debate, the class used Team Policy Debate Level 1 by Jennifer A. Quan. This book is also from Milestones Communications. The book began by explaining the basics of what debate actually is. Then it went into details for researching, speaker positions, rebuttals, and so on. This book was also very helpful.

Of course I can’t go into much detail in a short article. I can tell you, though, that the hard work was very much worth it! My son actually began feeling much more confident when speaking in front of others. He learned that, if he didn’t prepare adequately before a debate, he was going to embarrass himself. (Ask him how he learned that little tidbit!) He learned that he must budget his time and not wait until the last minute to prepare for class. He also had a great time with students of various ages who were also taking the class.

Yes, the class was a good bit of work—for both my son and me! Yes, it was a commitment to get to class each week and to take the time to do the work necessary before the next class. And yes, it was worth it all!


Wendy lives in the South with her wonderful hubby and 3 great kiddos! She is a Christian, homeschooling, work-from-home mom. She and Scott were high school sweethearts and have been married for more than 20 years. Her oldest child has autism, and Wendy began homeschooling her at age 2. Her son, a typical boy, would rather do anything than school! Her youngest child is a little social butterfly and people lover. Wendy loves reading and quilting and will hopefully return to scrapbooking some time soon. You can visit her personal blog at Homeschooling Blessings.


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