May 21, 2014 Edition 

Speech and Debate--should we?          

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Gena SuarezHey Mama,


The most important thing about speech is to have it be God-honoring. We need to teach our children what the Bible says about what should come out of our mouths. Here's a good verse to start with:  "Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone."  Colossians 4:6 (NIV). Sit down with the kids, take a good concordance or do an internet search, and see what else the Bible has to say about speech.


Now here's something we need to remember ...

Today focus on building up. I saw a cool meme on Facebook which said something to the effect of, "You can tell who the strong women are. They are the ones you see building one another up instead of tearing each other down."

It's easy to do this with ourselves (Eeyore Syndrome), but we also do it with our kids sometimes. It just comes naturally.

We have all these kids to take care of at the same time, plus a house, plus the outside bills, not to mention needing to take time to counsel with friends, spend time with Hubby, do the grocery shopping (and cooking) ... the list goes on. In a perfect world, the kids are just going to be good all day long so we can manage that huge list we wake up with every morning.

Truth is our husband and children are our top priority. The house will get done eventually, and everyone IS eating (and growing). Take time today to build UP those who live in the house. It's going to provide lasting memories and believe it or not, your day will run more smoothly in the long run.

Backwards: Build up your externals like the messy house, the errands, all that has to get done, and THEN take the time to pull that little one close and tell her/him how much Mama loves and needs her/him.

Build, build, build, today Mama. The Lord called you to this life and gave you this family. If it comes down to a missed co-op day and a child who's feeling a little insecure and needs Mama's arms all day, pick the prize behind curtain number two. Because really, that's FIRST prize anyway.


~ gena


To Give an Answer

The National Christian Forensics and Communications Association


Regardless of occupation, we are called to communicate. A mother communicating the gospel to her children, a missionary with different cultures, a lawyer defending justice--we are to stand ready to share the reason for the hope within us. We must know how to winsomely articulate truth and graciously combat incorrect thinking and inaccurate data. The National Christian Forensics and Communications Association uniquely prepares students to accomplish each of these. Through competition, students become equipped to follow God's call to communicate effectively for His glory.  


Many opportunities present themselves for homeschooling families, but few offer as much return on investment as NCFCA speech and debate competition. While earning credit in areas of critical thinking, logic, apologetics, history and current events, students:

  • Experience iron sharpening iron. Competing in NCFCA provides a benchmark to evaluate skills and opportunity to be challenged by competing with the best and brightest youth across the country.
  • Pursue academic excellence and personal integrity. Competitive speech and debate introduces students to a world of research and writing on a myriad of topics, requiring them to gracefully operate with both academic and personal integrity.
  • Cultivate lasting relationships. NCFCA has a national competition structure allowing students to get to know and work with others, locally and nationally. Friendships developed truly benefit them for the rest of their lives.
  • Learn social excellence and leadership skills. Nowhere else is found such loving, supportive, gracious interaction between peers--especially noteworthy considering they are competing against one another! Competitors are aware their first order of business is to honor God with their words and actions, including their interaction with one another.
  • Build character. Much is to be learned both from winning and losing, as well as from peer and authority interaction in a competition setting.

The NCFCA experience is like no other. It is awe-inspiring, motivating, encouraging, world-changing, uplifting--truly life-changing! Bring your students and join us!




NCFCA facilitates communications-based competition to homeschooled high schoolers, placing particular emphasis on excellence in academic and personal integrity as students learn to think and communicate effectively.  


Debaters learn speaking and research skills, respectful argumentation, refutation, organization, and most importantly, effective communication skills.


Speech events offer a different type of communications experience. NCFCA competitors can choose from eleven different events, including Essay and Film contests, carefully chosen for their unique, developing skill set.


Visit and learn how to get involved! Come join us! 



Learn Our History

This Memorial Day, help your kids learn the history of our
real-life superheroes with this FREE DVD!

The Familyman     
Hey Mom,
The light at the end of the school-year-tunnel is almost here. Don't worry if you get it all done. Just pick a date and stop.

Cartoon by Todd Wilson 

See more from my Cartoon Book Special.


Be real,

Raising A Modern Day Princess inspires parents, mentor Modern Day Princesss and youth  leaders to raise a true Modern Day Princess. Co-authors Pam Farrel and Doreen Hanna, share the value and purpose of providing a Biblically based rite-of-passage that guides their girls into womanhood that culminates with a life-impacting blessing ceremony.

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In the January/February 2014 issue of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, we spoke with Dr. Ben Carson regarding why he believes it is important for students today to be able to clearly state and defend their beliefs. He answered:


"Because they are up against a secular progressive society which is extremely vocal. It does not actually represent the majority opinion but has the microphone and tries to make people believe that anyone who varies from the secular progressive opinion are small-minded, ignorant people. And you need to be able to stand up to that and articulate your point of view in such a way that it becomes quite clear that you are not a small-minded, ignorant person." has current and upcoming classes to help you do exactly that. Middle school and high school students can take five months of Public Speaking with homeschool graduate and Biola University student Rebekah Bell, and they can enjoy fifteen weeks of Logic with Lisa Duffy. Plus Deborah Burton, attorney and founder of, offers Mock Trial on our site--more than 18 months of the study of law and important legal cases--leading to opportunities to debate in a mock trial or persuasive-argument setting. (Join the course at any point; the months provide standalone material and are archived.)


Beginning June 2, Julie Polanco will help students explore the world of Botany and understand some of the infinitely creative ways our Creator designed the earth to work. Starting this fall, Ruth Sundeen will teach students Biology that accents the roots of science and debunking evolutionary teaching. And Sonya Brouillette will introduce your students to Animal Science.


If you're not already a member, join today during our special 19 Gifts sale. Not only will you save money now (regular price $12.95 a month), you will lock in your membership at this price for as long as you maintain your membership (see site for details). That is a savings of over $60 every year. You'll receive access to all the material on for your entire family (over 85 courses in all) plus 19 free gifts including products from Jim Hodges Audio Books, A Journey Through Learning, King Alfred's English, and many more. Stop by The Old Schoolhouse® Store today for all the details and to lock in your super sale price. But hurry, this offer is only good until June 30, 2014!


Josh McDowell

Can your teens defend their faith? Send them to a
Summit Student Conference to help them build critical
and biblical thinking skills about competing worldviews.

Relational Homeschooling    
Diana Waring
Dear Friends,


Have you noticed that Spring has sprung at last? Just wanted to make sure you took a few minutes to walk outside with your kids and bask in the new life springing up all around you. . . I just had my FIRST hummingbird of the season stop to sip at my feeder--what joy!


Now, onto today's topic. It is an interesting one, because there are so many possibilities. First of all, there are the official "Speech and Debate" clubs and tournaments that students can join, learning the formal procedures of forensics. Then there are opportunities to practice giving speeches (like Junior Toastmasters). And, as every homeschool family knows, the chance to debate the value of taking a less-travelled road (like homeschooling!) with folks who hold different opinions hones the communication skills of our older students.


There is another less-known benefit of engaging in some sort of speech and debate, one that Dr. Jay Wile and I have been sharing at homeschool conventions this spring in our workshop entitled, "Arguing to Learn." Studies of science education have shown that students actually learn MORE when they discuss topics in which different theories are debated. It seems that when a student prepares to debate--even informally--they will learn the material far better than doing experiments or preparing research papers. If we extrapolate from these science education studies to other areas of learning, it becomes clear that encouraging our students to discuss and debate various points of view is actually a marvelous opportunity to learn in a greater depth and breadth than normal.


One strong warning, however. Whatever form of speech and debate your students participate in, help them understand that it is not a knock-down, drag-out fight. Quarreling, whether in word or attitude, is not appropriate. Instead, as servants of the Lord, we are called to walk in love, in kindness, in gentleness, in self-control.


Remember, stay relational!




P.S. If you are coming to the GHC convention in Ontario, California, be sure to come hear "Arguing to Learn" with Dr. Jay Wile and Diana Waring!


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Contest Corner 

For the month of May, 2014  


Writing Fiction in High School by Sharon Watson


Whether teaching writing skills to a high school student or reviewing existing skills, the process of teaching writing skills can be daunting. Sharon Watson, a veteran homeschooling mom, co-op teacher, and literary workshop facilitator, has taken the dread out of polishing up those writing skills. Schoolhouse Review Crew members had the opportunity to use and review two of Sharon's premium curriculum items: 


The Power in Your Hands: Writing Non-Fiction in High School

Writing Fiction in High School


Through the Writing with Sharon Watson curriculum, students find a conversational-style instruction that turns writing from a subject of dread to a subject of delight.


Writing Fiction in High School is written in the same conversational-style as Watson's non-fiction curriculum. It is designed to help teens who love to write stories and want to influence the world as Christians learn to be more powerful and effective writers. Student's learn about and have the opportunity to practice with the various literary elements involved in storytelling and experience critiquing their own stories and stories of others. There is even a manuscript tract for students who have already written a short story or novel manuscript to be able to edit and improve on that existing work. The student workbook, containing over 300 pages of instructional text and activities, is available for $25.05; and the, teacher's guide is available for $19.95. Read the Crew reviews here!


You can WIN Writing Fiction in High School!


TO ENTER: Email Heather with your name, mailing address, and phone number for contact purposes, with the subject line, "
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