FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:
Q: What age do you recommend students begin speech and debate?
A: We have observed that students from ages 12-18 benefit from participating in speech and debate. Even just one year of competition as a junior or senior will afford a student confidence and growth in critical thinking and communication skills. However, we believe the ideal time for students to begin is while they are still in junior high (8th – 9th grade). Students at this stage typically have not encountered the heavy high school load and have more time for learning and mastering different skills available to them. By the time they hit the heavier sophomore and junior year workloads, they have learned most foundational speech and debate skills and can focus on mastering events and deepening the content of their speeches. In addition, with the junior year being the most important regarding high school transcripts for college applications, multiple years of mastery will increase their chances of winning numerous awards that can be cited on college & scholarship applications.
Q: How much time does a student need to spend each week to do well in speech and debate?
A: While the time required depends on the number of events (debate and speech categories) in which students choose to participate, a successful student will spend, on average across the school year, about 5-7 hours total per week. This includes up to 3 hours of weekly meetings (1.5 hrs speech / 1.5 hours debate – you may choose to only participate in one), 2-3 hours per week to prepare for team policy debate and/or 1-2 hours per week for speech preparation. Because the class assignments vary from week to week, the time demands will fluctuate during the school year. If a student wants to compete for a Vector Varsity or Jr Varsity award, a small number of service hours will also be required throughout the school year.
Q: How many tournaments can the students expect to compete in?
A: Each student must compete in at least 2 tournaments to remain an active Vector member. If a student competes in both speech and debate, the student must compete in 2 tournaments for both speech and debate (4 total tournaments). There are on average 9 local tournaments that a student can choose to compete in if they desire. Tournaments dates will be made available by the beginning of the school year to facilitate family scheduling. The local tournament season begins in November and runs through the end of March. There are also numerous tournaments across the country that your student is eligible to compete in. Top performing competitors will be invited to the nationwide National Invitational Tournament of Champions, typically in May.
Q: How could I incorporate speech and debate as part of my student’s high school credits?
A: Think academic integration. Almost every high school course requires some amount of research and writing, so why not make Vector Speech and Debate the outlet for these studies? Many families over the years have found it very beneficial to record their students’ work in speech and debate as part of their high school credits. Credits for English, Government, Research & Writing, Composition, Public Speaking, and Argumentation and Debate, just to name a few, could easily be garnered through this interdisciplinary work. For example, a student participating in team policy debate who spends 5 hours a week over the course of the school year studying the policies and cases relating to the governmental policy resolution could easily be granted credit toward their government requirement. As mentioned before, Patrick Henry College recognizes and considers one year of participation in competitive speech and debate as equivalent to one English credit. Be creative, and exercise the flexibility we’ve been granted as homeschoolers.
Q: When does Vector Speech and Debate meet?
Vector meets weekly at Ketoctin Covenant Presbyterian Church in Purcellville, on Thursdays from 4:30 – 8:00pm, with a 30 minute dinner break from 6:00 – 6:30pm.
- Speech coaching and practice occurs from 4:30 – 6:00pm
- Debate coaching and practice is from 6:30 – 8:00pm
- Regular parental participation in club meetings and tournaments is essential and required
- For directions to the Church, click here.
- More Information on Meetings.
Q: Are parents required to attend meetings?
Since Vector Speech and Debate is a parent-led cooperative effort, parents are needed to help with teaching and coaching at meetings every week. (New parents are provided the necessary training.) Please plan to have one parent in regular attendance. If this is an impossibility for your family, please speak with club leadership about other ways that you can contribute to Vector outside of meeting time. More information on Meetings.
Please see our Parent & Student Involvement tab for more information.
Q: Is there a dress code for speech and debate meetings and tournaments?
For Meetings: Business Casual. No shorts are permitted at meetings. Students can wear their Vector t-shirt with jeans, khakis, or skirts for girls.
For Speech and Debate Tournaments: Vector follows the dress code guidelines of Stoa.
Gentlemen: suits; slacks and sports coat, with a shirt and tie, and dress shoes
Ladies: skirt or pants suit; slacks, skirts or dresses with jackets, and professional dress shoes. Hemlines are to be at least to the knees.