(CNSNews.com) - Home-schoolers have made the National Spelling Bee their national showcase. This year's champion was taught at home for most of his life, before attending a private school in his current eighth-grade year.
In fact, this year home-schoolers made up more than 10 percent of the field of 248 students. Last year, all three of the spelling-bee finalists were home-schooled, as was the winner of the National Geography Bee.
Those are surprisingly high numbers for a group that makes up only two percent of all school-age children, according to U.S. Department of Education estimates.
"This validates home-schooling," Michael Smith, president of the Home School Legal Defense Fund, said in one television interview.
Sean Conley, a 13-year-old eighth-grader from Anoka, Minn., spelled "succedaneum" in the 16th round to capture the Scripps Howard-sponsored tournament in Washington on Thursday.
While a home-schooler, Sean learned nearly 20,000 words with the help of his parents, Mike and Bry.
"That's what you do as a home-school parent," Bry Conley told reporters. "You facilitate opportunities for your child." More to come.