Spelling Bee Lessons

The school spelling bee was yesterday. It was epic. I should’ve worn stronger antiperspirant.

Spelling beeWe’ve not had good luck with school spelling bees. The first was in 2nd grade but she was young having skipped 1st grade. She didn’t really get that there are no second chances in spelling competitions. Spell it wrong and you’re gone. HORIZONTAL did her in.

It was one tough lesson.

The next spelling bee didn’t come until 4th grade at the new school she’d started just a few weeks prior. By this time she knew the rules but though she’d win – no problem. She rushed and got the word wrong. We think it was CATERPILLAR that made her stumble but can’t remember for sure.

Another tough lesson.

Which brings us to today. She’d already won her class spelling bee and the school competition determines if she goes on to the regional bee.

She studied but I wouldn’t say she studied diligently. What she did work on was slowing down. Making sure she hears the word correctly, visualizing it and carefully and deliberately spelling it aloud.

Considering her history, she just didn’t want to go out in the first round.

And then she did.

The principal called the word – GRADE – without the benefit of a microphone. Not sure why because it was right next to him. He needed it as you can imagine in a gymnasium full of wiggly little kids.

She heard the word (so she thought) and even asked him to repeat it so she could be sure (so she thought).

And then she spelled – RAID – and she was out.

And my heart broke And my poor sweet girl, who could’ve spelled that word way back in preschool, had bombed yet another spelling bee. As she pushed her seat back I could see the chin quiver. You know how that happens right before you cry? It was rough.

She managed to hold it together until the end of that round and then there was a February miracle. One of the teachers, not her own teacher who was actually on the judge’s panel, but another teacher contested her elimination because she hadn’t correctly heard the word because the principal didn’t use the microphone. Thankfully, all the powers that be agreed and she rejoined the spelling bee.

And the principal started using the microphone.

One of the best parts for me as a mom was hearing the school cheer for her when she rejoined the competition. Even her fellow students knew she got a raw deal.

And then she won.

I think my husband may have let out a whoop. He’s been saving up from all those never played basketball and soccer games, the dance recitals that never were and the gymnastics meets that never will be. He wanted to cheer for his kid. One of the sweetest things I’ve ever witnessed.

Yes, I’m proud of her for winning the spelling bee. Not because spelled the words correctly (finally!) but because she learned from her past mistakes. She didn’t let the first-round snafu rattle her confidence. She showed grit.

She won that spelling bee like a boss.

But more than feeling prideful I’m feeling happy. It’s not often that she’s recognized for her accomplishments. You can’t really run around showing everyone your straight A report card or IQ score – unless you really don’t want to have any friends.

Winning the spelling bee is giving her a moment of glory and she deserves it.

What are your experiences with academic competitions or spelling bees? Share in the comments or on Facebook.

1 Comment

  1. Thank you for sharing! Sweet story of success and learning! We just were talking with my son and his teacher today about his need to slow down and focus on accuracy in his work so his work and grades reflect his capabilities too. And kudos for her keeping her composure. Very timely! I am glad you shared. I know it is so hard when you want to say, hey my kid just mastered this amazing thing, and still have friends. 🙂 Totally know that feeling.

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