In order to be eligible to participate in Verve Speech and Debate, a student must be homeschooling under the Home-based Instruction Law of Washington State. Please note the student may not be enrolled full time in public education or, if the student is enrolled in Running Start, must not have a course load greater than 15 credits in any given quarter during the school year. Other than those cases, you are welcome and encouraged to participate!
Speech and debate do require a time commitment greater than that of a typical school subject. Students are expected to attend weekly club meetings (1 ½ hours if the student attends the speech classes and typically 4 hours for the debate classes) to receive instruction, direction, and to practice their developing skills. In addition, the students will be investing time outside of club researching and preparing their speeches and cases/briefs for debate. Although the amount of time invested is up to the students, as in most aspects of life, results are directly proportional to the time invested (quality and quantity). In the case of debate and the team speech events, it’s a good practice to discuss commitment levels between partners and families to ensure expectations are aligned.
In all homeschooling endeavors, parent participation is critical to success – the same is true with speech and debate. Parents are always welcome and encouraged to attend club meetings (we can always use more help), but during tournaments parent involvement is crucial. Many judges are needed for debate and speech tournaments, and parents are very well-qualified for this role (yes, we will train you how to judge). We also welcome and encourage you to bring younger siblings to attend as well – older elementary school students are excellent at timing events, which is also a great way to expose them to speech and debate at an early age.
Have Siblings too young to participate? Younger siblings are always welcome at club. There will be designated places where siblings can study, read, play games, or do electronics in a quiet and courteous manner. We will also provide "training" for siblings (ages 7-11) to be Timers at tournaments. In April there is usually a Junior Tournament for the younger siblings to participate in a few speech events.
Most tournaments are 3 full days (Thursday through Saturday) and range between 100 and 250 participants. Each tournament will have a registration fee of about $45 and provide an option to include meals for the students. A separate food area is provided for judges and parents who are judging or working in another capacity at the tournament. All tournaments conclude with a fun and family-friendly awards ceremony recognizing the top speakers and debaters for the event – the students love this time and frequently will organize a “ballot party” offsite after the ceremony. The Puget Sound area will host some tournaments and other states will host tournaments as well (Oregon, Colorado, and California). Travel to non-local tournaments is optional, although we do encourage students (and families) to attend some of these events if possible. In most cases, host housing is available to reduce travel costs.
First 1-2 Months
It’s important to note that in the early weeks, new students may feel a bit overwhelmed with the challenge of meeting new people, learning new concepts, developing independent research skills, and overcoming nervousness when speaking in front of a group. Although it may be tempting to quit during this time, we encourage you to persevere – parents who have been in club previous years are happy to share how they navigated through these early days. As your student begins to practice at club meetings and participate in tournaments, they will not only be developing speaking skills and confidence, but also making new friendships and lasting memories. In most cases, by yearend they will be having such a great time they will be looking forward to the next year with great enthusiasm.