by Sharon Chin

SAN JOSE (KPIX) — When it comes to studying for spelling competitions, many parents help their kids by quizzing them on words and offering emotional support.

But one South Bay couple has shared a unique perspective with their competing children.

KPIX 5 already reported on the annual Adult Spelling Bee in Long Beach where grown-ups spell off against each other.

But back in 2014, Usha and Raj Gandhasri of San Jose spontaneously decided to compete against their peers in the adult competition just minutes after their oldest son, Rutvik, took part in the children’s spelling bee.

The couple figured it was worth a try.

“OK, this is a chance to see how it really feels,” Usha explained.

Raj was given his first word — “beverage” — and was so excited, he launched right into spelling.

“Letters started rolling out of my mouth: ‘B-E-V-E-R-A — then a sound came –jay-G E,'” Raj laughed. “My brain lost focus of saying letters and switched to sounding it.”

The judges conferred, decided his “J” sound was an extra letter and he was out.

Usha, on the other hand, won third place in the competition. They came away with a newfound empathy for spellers who compete under pressure:

“Don’t rush. Although it is simple, keep the attention and focus to the last letter,” Raj said.

Their children have taken their lessons to heart in their high-stress spelling situations:

Rutvik won the CBS Bay Area Spelling Bee the last two years, earning him a spot in the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

And the Gandhasris’ younger son, Rishik, has competed against his brother for the Bay Area regional prize.

“After our experience we understand how hard it is to stay calm and cool up there,” their mother said.

But keeping calm and cool while watching your child spell? That’s another thing altogether!

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