Giving Our Children the Freedom to Pursue Interests

Giving Our Children the Freedom to Pursue Interests

Giving Our Children the Freedom to Pursue Interests

Parents of National Spelling Bee champions of 2016, Nihar Janga and Jairam Hathwar, tell us how they encouraged the children to prepare for the big win. By Taniya Talukdar
Nihar Janga and Jairam Hathwar

If children have supportive parents, the journey to success gets much easier. This is the case with 2016 National Spelling Bee champions, Nihar Janga and Jairam Hathwar. Their parents put in a lot of hard work to get the children ready for the championship and the title was ultimately shared by both of them.

Talking about it, Nihar’s father, Narayana Reddy Janga says, “The entire journey of preparing for the competition is something we all enjoyed doing as a family, so none of this felt like hard work and obviously this was a priority for us. I do not think we have made many sacrifices as we still took our vacations, attended all parties and Nihar had his play time for other things.” In Jairam’s case, it was hours of hard work for several years that helped him clinch the title.

The process was a family affair as the whole family helped each of the champs to compete. While Jairam studied the words, his mom or brother would take turns to quiz him. Narayana says, “We created the word lists and also helped Nihar memorize the rules by quizzing him regularly and provided the moral support when he would get frustrated.”

Jairam’s elder brother, Sairam, was the Spelling Bee winner in 2014 and he was a great asset along with the parents who didn’t leave any stone unturned to help him achieve his goal. “We basically helped him study the words, quizzed him and made time to take him to different competitions year round,”

informs Dr. Roopa Hathwar, Jairam’s mother. On the other hand, Nihar’s mother Sushma Janga has been coaching him for the past six-seven years. “At first it was not much, but starting this year they spent at least an hour together everyday preparing for the event,” says Narayana.

Though encouraging, the parents never pressured the kids. “We had told Jairam that there was no pressure and he was to pursue whatever he was passionate about,” offers Roopa and adds, “Though of course going to the White House and meeting with President Barack Obama was very inspirational for him.” Narayana feels that this win has been a great confidence booster for Nihar and adds, “Nihar now believes he can accomplish anything if he works hard enough for it!”

Having spent time and effort on their respective children, the parents were aware of the dedication involved in their success and hence they’re happy that Nihar and Jairam shared the title. Dr. Roopa says, “We were happy that the children could share the title especially as it got closer to the end. It would have been a shame if only one won at that point.” Echoing similar sentiments Narayana says, “We’re very proud of both of them. It was a big relief in a way that one more child got the opportunity to be at the top of the world.”

As parents of champion children, each set of parents have a word of advice for aspiring ones. “The primary goal of taking part in competitions is to improve the benchmark from year to year. You win as long as you are able to raise your benchmark, or move on to something else if the growth stops. And, respect all the fellow contestants, everyone works hard to realize their dreams,” says Narayana while Roopa says, “It takes a lot of dedication and hard work to win any competition, so help your child to pursue whatever interests them.” Nihar’s mother signs off on a positive note, she says, “My advice is for students to not get disappointed. If they don’t succeed at first, keep trying and work hard!”

Giving Our children the freedom to pursue interests
Giving Our Children the Freedom to Pursue Interests
Photos Courtesy:
Mark Bowen/Scripps National Spelling Bee

Giving Our Children the Freedom to Pursue Interests