Friday, March 4, 2016

Big Brother's 4-H Demonstration!

In my last post, I mentioned that Big Brother was preparing to participate in our county's 4-H Demonstration Contest. As a Cloverbud (a 4-H member under the age of 9), he would not be eligible to advance to the Area or State level competitions. But he was encouraged by our county 4-H agent to give it a try at the county level for fun and practice.

Big Brother had chosen to demonstrate how to do speed cup stacking. Cup stacking is something he loves and knows how to do well. So it made a great choice for his first demonstration.

So he worked hard all last week. He made posters, practiced his introduction, the body of his demonstration, and his conclusion. He practiced taking and answering questions properly. He watched videos on YouTube of other 4-H demonstrations. He watched cup stacking videos. For a little guy who will not be 8 for another month, he really worked!

And it paid off!

The night of the competition, we arrived early to register. We were pleased to find out there were other Cloverbuds participating. I had feared that he would be the only one, and that it might be discouraging to him if all he saw were older and more advanced students giving demonstrations. But this was not the case, and we were glad. One boy was only 6!

When it was time to start, Cloverbuds were divided from the older 4-H members and we went to a separate meeting room. Big Brother was relieved to see that one of the judges was his Cloverbud club leader, and the other gentleman who judged was extremely nice.

The judges told us that they would watch each demonstration and make helpful notes on how each student did. Awards would be given out once all the demonstrations had been judged.

Big Brother was second, so he was able to watch a fellow Cloverbud do his demonstration first. I think that helped calm his nerves a bit!

I had told Big Brother that winning or losing a contest was not the point. I did not care if he received an award from 4-H or not. All I asked and expected of him was that he work hard to prepare and just get up there and try his best. Daddy and I let him I know we were already proud of him, and that we planned to reward him after the contest was over.

My parents were also able to come watch, and my dad was able to video the whole thing for us. Having his grandparents there in the audience also made Big Brother feel more supported and confident.

Finally his big moment in the spotlight arrived! I helped him quickly set up his posters...and I sat beack down...leaving him up there alone to conduct his demonstration.


I knew he had done well at home for me, and I knew he was well prepared. I knew I had done everything in my power to make sure he was ready for this...

But now my hands were off, and he was completely on his own.

For the first time ever, he was going to be judged (or graded) on something by someone other than just Mom.

I should not have worried at all...

Big Brother shocked everyone in that room! He was confident, he was comfortable, and he was cool.

He nailed his entire demonstration. He was professional, he used his notes well but still managed to make plenty of eye contact. His expression was excellent. He expertly used his posters and cup stacking materials to really get the judges and the rest of the audience interested in the sport ofcup stacking.

At the end of his demonstration when he asked for questions, the judges wanted to see him do a fast Cycle (the most challenging cup stacking pattern)! Even under pressure, Big Brother did great, and the judges were obviously very impressed.

When Big Brother was finished, we watched a few more demonstrations. While the others did fine, none of them had the enthusiasm nor had prepared quite as well as Big Brother.

I honestly felt a kinda sorry for some of them because Big Brother had done so well.

When all the demonstrations in both rooms were finished, light snacks were served as the judges met with the county agent and awards were prepared.

Cloverbud awards were given out first.

Big Brother was delighted to be declared Cloverbud CHAMPION for the General division and was awarded 2 beautiful ribbons!

He also received the judges forms with their encouraging comments. Words like "Awesome!" and "Great job!" really made Big Brother's day!!!

Actually the judges had wanted to find some way to send him on to represent our county at the Area competition, but the agent explained that he was too young to be eligible for that this year. But what an honor!

After much congratulating, Big Brother was ready for his reward from Mom and Dad! So following the competition, we took him out to McDonalds for a chocolate milkshake and then to Wal-Mart to pick out a new toy.

His choice?

A new LEGO set of course!

Participating in this community activity not only won our little homeschooler some well-earned recognition, but through the whole process of preparing and conducting his demonstration, Big Brother has practiced numerous real life skills that can serve him well as he grows into adulthood later on.

He stretched himself out of his comfort zone just a bit and gained all kinds of knowledge, skill and confidence along the way!

It was amazing for me as homeschool Mom to just let go and watch him shine!

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