We hope the start of this new school year brings with it freshness, vitality, and enthusiasm. Even if down the road the zeal of September loses its zest as the school routine settles in, please know that we are here to cheer you on throughout the coming months.


Diane Kummer

Both of HSLDA’s high school consultants homeschooled their children from kindergarten through the 12th grade. Learn more >>

As you plan out your school calendar, we encourage you to include time for your teens to take part in HSLDA-sponsored contests.

Benefits of Participation

During high school, we hear from some parents that their teens’ motivation to complete school work begins to dwindle. Entering a contest can inspire creativity, take the drudgery out of a homework assignment, and even ignite the spirit of competition. The incentive of a prize brings a whole new outlook to school! In addition, contests offer your teens opportunities to put their knowledge to practical use, showing them the reason for learning.

Your teen’s entry will be assessed and evaluated by a panel of judges who are interested in not only choosing the winners, but also encouraging all participants to work up to their potential. Entries will be judged in comparison to others in each age category and your teen will receive helpful feedback that he can incorporate into future contest entries.

HSLDA contests are great ways for homeschoolers to receive recognition for their talents and to show off their skills. Winning a contest is a valuable item to add to resumes or college and job applications.

The deadlines imposed by contests give your teens practice in time management skills—scheduling his time, setting interim goals, and knowing the satisfaction of meeting a target date. Working with your teen to map out a reasonable time frame to meet contest goals will help him see the advantages of a well thought out plan. In some cases, your teen will learn that missing a deadline results in disappointment and loss (sometimes money). This lesson may prevent him from experiencing a more serious ramification later in life.

Both you and your teen will benefit from someone else’s evaluation of your teen’s work. Winning entries are posted on HSLDA’s website where you will be able to compare the caliber of your teen’s ability against others.

Although this newsletter is highlighting teens’ involvement in the contests, there are levels available for all of your school age children, so the contests can turn into a family affair. Encourage your children to hold each other accountable to deadlines and to seek out suggestions and advice from one another.

Prizes are awarded in cash (up to $200!) and HSLDA bookstore gift cards. The winner of the HSF Christmas Card Contest has the joy of seeing his artwork used as the design for cards sent to widows who have received assistance from the Home School Foundation.

Last but certainly not least, another benefit of entering HSLDA’s contests is the privilege of knowing that the entry fees are donated to the Home School Foundation’s Special Needs Children’s Fund. Your teen is lending a helping hand by her involvement in the contest.

Now that we’ve catalogued the benefits of taking part in HSLDA’s contests, are your teens ready to take the next step?

HSLDA Contests

Entering a contest shouldn’t be seen as one more item to add to your “to do” list! Instead, schedule them as integral elements in high school courses you already plan to teach. For example, an English essay may be next year’s HSLDA Essay Contest winner; or an art project or photograph can be entered in these divisions. If you teach in a co-op, encourage all of the teens (the more the merrier!) to enter the contests and include this as one of the assignments for your class.

Students are encouraged to pay attention to the tips and resources given for each contest. Some will suggest that the student read good literature. Others will recommend studying the works of famous artists, writers and poets. Past judges often weigh in with their expertise and provide additional recommendations for the contestants.

Dianne Becker, HSLDA’s Contest Coordinator, oversees five contests offered throughout the year. For each contest, we try to choose themes that leave as much room as possible for the student’s creativity to shine in each age category. We hope students see the theme for their category and say, “I have an idea I could use for that!” Since each contest has a new and exciting focus every year, plan to have your teens compete yearly and enter as many of the categories that interest them.

Dianne Becker says, “Particularly in the high school division, the judges are looking for entries that express a fresh perspective! The goal is not just to produce a high quality entry—be it a photograph, poem, essay, or artwork—but rather to apply those artistic skills to thinking outside the box.

“We hope that our contests give highschoolers an opportunity to realize the value and potential that exists in all that they have learned up to this point in their lives.

“We also hope that they will then continue to use those skills. This is why on our website, we offer volunteer ideas related to the current contest, to broaden students’ perspectives of all they could do with their skills if they choose to apply them in creative ways.”


The essay contest offers your teen the opportunity to write with a purpose in mind. The most academic of the five, this contest is a great resume booster for college!


Calling all Picassos! Entering the art contest affords your teen a venue to showcase his talents. The original artwork of all the finalists is displayed on the hallways of the HSLDA office for one year, where it is appreciated by staff and distinguished visitors.


The poetry contest provides an opportunity for your teen to study various genres of good poetry and then try his hand at writing verse. Whether your teen is introspective, humorous, musical, gifted at narration, or action-oriented, he or she can apply that quality to a specific poetic form determined by the contest guidelines to create a magnificent poem whose quality may surprise even the poet himself!


Your teen’s ability to capture picture perfect moments finds an outlet when she uses her talent to tell a story with her camera. As with the art contest, the finalist photographs from this our most popular contest, hang for one year in the HSLDA hallways.

Home School Foundation Christmas Card

Teens age 15 and older have the chance to see their artwork developed into a Christmas card that is sent to widows who receive assistance from HSF. This is the only contest that allows—indeed encourages—digital editing and is a great opportunity for all teens and parents who enjoy graphic design.

These contests may be the impetus to stimulate your teens’ imaginations and spark their creative talents. They are fun and inspirational opportunities, and your teens may possibly see their work and names listed on HSLDA’s website!

Join us next month as we discuss course descriptions and provide you with tips on how to write one, what to include, and samples to review.

Grateful to help you as you teach your teens,

Becky Cooke and Diane Kummer
HSLDA High School Consultants