This post is part of a series titled, “Homeschool Q&A.” The series features questions we’ve received from parents on a variety of topicsand the answers!

Q. Can homeschoolers participate in the Scripps National Spelling Bee? Where can I find information?

A. Scripps Howard and other newspapers sponsor spelling bees at elementary schools and homeschool support groups across the nation. Each year, students (ages 10-14) from public, private, home, and parochial schools aspire to compete in the final four rounds of the bee, which will be televised from Washington, D.C.

Homeschool students can participate through a local support group that has registered with the Scripps National Spelling Bee. If a homeschool student resides in an area where no homeschool association/group/co-op exists, the student’s family may enroll for a fee of $89. Homeschool students who reside in an area where no homeschool group exists should click here to complete a service request form to inquire about enrollment in their area.

According to Janice Liebenberg of the Scripps National Spelling Bee, “Homeschool groups may enroll at to ensure their students are eligible to participate and to receive the materials needed to conduct spelling bees. During enrollment, bee coordinators receive details about their local bee program.” These details include local dates, deadlines, and participation guidelines.

The extended enrollment deadline is very near! The enrollment period was from August 16 through October 17, 2011, during which homeschool groups could register for a $109 materials and enrollment fee (this was the same price as for all other schools). The late enrollment period is October 18 through December 16, 2011. Groups enrolling during this period incur an additional $75 fee per group. Individual homeschoolers are also in the late registration period. Deadlines for joining a group will vary with each local group.

It’s not too late to contact the support groups in your area to see if they are registered to participate. You can find the support groups in your area here. You may also click on this link to find out if a support group in your zip code or in a nearby zip code is registered.

Eligibility guidelines and the Scripps National Spelling Bee FAQ include more helpful information.