I am so excited that the 2019 spelling bee season is here! Since we have some newcomers to this database, I'll go over how homeschoolers participate in the Scripps system, which culminates in the National Spelling Bee that we watch on TV each summer.
An introduction for those who don't know me: I’m Laura Ann Tipps (formerly Brown), and I am the Alabama Homeschool Spelling Bee Coordinator. I competed in spelling bees from 4th to 8th grade, advancing to the Alabama Spelling Bee all five years. I made it to the National Spelling Bee in 2004 and 2005. Since then, I have volunteered at all levels (except National) as a judge, pronouncer, and coordinator. I LOVE the spelling bee, and I am passionate about getting homeschoolers involved and helping them succeed!
How Does It Work?
For students in public, private, etc. school, participating in the spelling bee is pretty straightforward, starting with classroom bees. Homeschoolers, on the other hand, start at what’s called the district level. Some homeschool groups have "school" spelling bees, but these are not part of the competition system—although they're great practice!
Our district bees take place around the state, in order to give everyone a chance to participate without having to travel very far. These are called our North Alabama District Bee, Central Alabama District Bee, and South Alabama District Bee. The district bees will take place (approximately) during the second through fourth weeks in January, and I will be sending out dates for all three very shortly.
The top three spellers from each district bee advance to our Homeschool County Bee, which is typically held on the second Saturday in February. So why is it called a “county” bee? Unfortunately, homeschoolers only get one representative at the Alabama Spelling Bee, so we are considered a “county,” just like Jefferson, Etowah, or Baldwin.
Our county winner advances to the Alabama Spelling Bee, where they compete to move on to the National Spelling Bee!
Who can participate?
Any eligible homeschooler (read about eligibility here, and there is no minimum age) is welcome to participate in ONE district bee as long as they are registered with a school group that is enrolled with Scripps. Typically, only a few homeschool groups in our state enroll. It is very expensive and not cost-effective for most groups and co-ops. Last year, I think two groups registered.
To remedy this, we created a group called Learning at Home. Its sole purpose is to facilitate spelling bee participation for homeschool families. Without it, families whose school groups do not enroll would face enrollment on their own.
When you register through Learning at Home, you receive the official study materials Scripps has released for this year. These are basically essential for advancement in the competition. You will also receive study tips and FAQs that i've compiled over the years.
How Do I Register My Student(s)?
It’s super easy to register with Learning at Home and get started on your 2019 spelling bee journey! All I need is some basic information and an $8 fee per family. This means that, no matter how many eligible students you have, all you pay is $8. This small fee helps me recoup the Scripps enrollment fee, as I do all of this on a volunteer basis.
Once I have both your registration information and your $8 fee, I will send you the study materials and study tips. Here is the information I’ll need, which you can send to me by email:
Name of Parent or Legal Guardian
Name(s) of Speller(s) in Household
Grade Level(s) and Age(s) of Speller(s) in Household
Homeschool Group/Covering/Co-op (if applicable)
The following link has my information and the $8 amount plugged in already: https://www.paypal.me/LauraAnnTipps/8. I also have a Venmo account.
If you need to send a check/money order instead, please let me know and I will provide you with a mailing address.
The deadline to register with Learning at Home is December 31, 2018. After that, registration will be available until the date of your selected district bee for an increased fee of $10.
Please share this information with your homeschooling friends! My goal is to grow participation every year, and I'd love for you to help me by forwarding this email.
Social Media: I have created a Facebook group where we can have discussions, ask questions, post links and photos, share tips, and where I can post reminders about deadlines and upcoming bees. It's a private group, so just request to join, make sure to answer the questions, and I'll approve you!
Here's a link:
Finally, feel free to contact me with any and all questions about the spelling bee! Even if spelling isn’t your student’s strong suit, the spelling bee is a great way to learn skills that will help them improve, not to mention its benefits in areas like self-confidence, competition, and friendship. It changed my life for the better, and I’d love to help your students get the most out of this experience!
Laura Ann Tipps
Coordinator - Alabama Homeschool Spelling Bees