Academic competitions can be a fun way of enriching your child’s homeschooling experience. They facilitate learning, offer a social outlet, often award scholarships or other prizes, look good on college applications, build self-esteem, teach many non-academic skills such as public speaking, presentation, organization, etc., and are fun. Though homeschooling’s flexibility makes it easier to participate in such competitions, we also face special challenges. Some competitions flat out refuse to allow homeschoolers to participate. Other competitions allow homeschoolers, but have a structure that makes it hard for homeschoolers to participate in (for example, they may require large teams of same age students).
The criteria that I tried to use in this post was that to be considered a competition (as opposed to a scholarship program), the student needs to actually do something more than turn in an application. I will address essay and writing competitions in a separate post. In addition, I am only listing competitions that are national or international and open to all students, regardless of race, gender, or religion. Though I am trying to make this list comprehensive, I’m sure that there are many competitions that I am missing. If you know of any competitions that I missed, please mention it in the comments or e-mail me. Also, if you know of any of the competitions that I have listed as not being open to homeschoolers, please let me know. I will edit this list as needed.