While most kids her age will be playing video games or watching Nickelodeon, 6-year-old Lori Anne Madison will be competing in the Scripps National Spelling Bee with contenders twice her age.
Before Virginia's Lori Anne competes on Wednesday, the record for the youngest contestant in the event will continue to be an 8-year-old. There's no lower age limit for the bee, but the upper limit is either 15 years old or those who have graduated from middle school.
Lori Anne correctly spelled vaquero, a word of Spanish origin meaning cowboy, to advance to the national bee.
Lori Anne is a spunky, home-schooled child who was trying to shy away from media attention when the Associated Press caught up with her while she was searching for snails and tadpoles during a picnic with other home-schooled kids.
I asked for no interviews, but the media seems to be disobeying me, and that's why we're looking for snails and water slugs right now, she told the AP.
Her mother, on the other hand, gushed about Lori Anne, who started reading before she reached her second birthday.
She's like a teenager in a 6-year-old body, her mother, Sorina Madison, told the AP. Her brain, she understands things way ahead of her age.
Sorina Madison intended to send her daughter to private school, but the headmaster of the school said Lori Anne was too smart for the school.
Lori Anne's mother said she didn't force her daughter to enter the world of competitive spelling. Sorina Madison said Lori Anne's accomplishment has been shocking.
I didn't expect all the media attention. We're private people. We're regular people. It was intimidating. But I'm happy for her, she told the AP. She loves it, and she does it because it's a passion, and we never push her into anything and want her to make her own choices.
Although Lori Anne may be intellectually advanced for her age, she still revels in things others her age enjoy.
She doesn't sit at a table for hours to study anything. I mean, she's 6, Sorina Madison said. She's still a 6-year-old, and we want to allow her to be a 6-year-old.
The Scripps National Spelling Bee will be held Wednesday and Thursday. The semifinals will air Thursday on ESPN 2 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. EDT, with the championship round on ESPN airing later in the day from 8 to 10 p.m. EDT.