The first sign of a new bee season has recently been released--the 2017-18 School Spelling Bee Study List (I'll post a link or file for it on this site as soon as I can). This list has 450 words in it, from which most school bees will draw their words. If you're new to spelling, a 450 word list can seem a little daunting. Here are some ideas on how to break it up and get it learned by the time your school bee rolls around!
Decide on a number of words to do each day. If this is your first time studying for a bee, you might not want to take on a ton of studying to start with, so something like 50 words per day could be a reasonable goal--or, if you're more ambitious, you could of course do more.
Have someone quiz you through all of the words. Have them pronounce the word for you, and you can spell the word. Mark all the words you miss--circle them, put an "x" next to them, or do something else. Just make sure that whatever you do, you can easily identify which ones you missed. Keep doing this until you've gotten through the entire list once.
Go over the entire list twice. This seems like it will just take more time, and it will, but it's worth it. It gives you a chance to make sure you know the words that you got correct, and didn't just get them right the first time on a lucky guess.
Once that's done, make Quizlets (quizlet.com) with the words that you missed. Include your misses from both the first and second times through. Once you've added the words, definitions, and diacritics or pronunciations, do each Quizlet (in the "speller" mode) twice.
Write down every word that you miss from the Quizlets. Then have someone ask you over those words until you've gotten them all right twice in a row.
If you have time, go over the whole list one last time for good measure.
Then there's the bee itself. Here are some tips for handling the competition:
Make sure you know when and where the bee will take place. When I was in fourth grade, I failed to do this and ended up not knowing when it was until two days in advance, which left me scrambling to learn as much of the list as I could before the bee. I did end up winning, but I wasn't as prepared as I could have been.
Understand the format of your bee. Is there a written component? Do you need to know definitions? Get these questions answered. Also, find out if there will be an audience and, if so, how big the audience will be (this applies especially if you struggle with nerves).
Be a good sport. Applaud the efforts of your competitors, regardless of their placement. Don't try to intimidate other students or act like you're certain to win. If you get out, do your best not to be jealous of those who have beaten you--this was something I definitely did not do well in my first bee in third grade.
Tune out everything except the word. Ignore the people in the audience. Ignore your competitors. Ignore everything except yourself, your word, and the pronouncer or judges.
Don't freeze up. Even if you don't know your word or forgot it, you still have a chance at getting it right. Don't despair.
The first school bees aren't for another two months or so, but it's never too early to start preparing. Good luck to everyone at the first stage of competition this year!