Having spoken with another parent, I feel a bit better. I wasn’t imagining things about the judging process. This parent’s daughter has been up for best-in-show each of the last five years and not attained it, despite difficulty of project (I’ve seen some of the projects and they were well done!) The son of our leader racked up seven rosettes this year.
So, moving forward:
I made sure that my daughter knew that I was disappointed with the judging, not her projects. I made sure that she knew that the main thing is that she’s enjoying making the projects and that she’s getting to learn some new skills.
Then we talked about what we could do going forward to possibly increase her chances for that best-in-show rosette. I brought up her shyness with the judges. Turns out she’d been thinking that over, and is going to write up a paragraph about each project as she finishes them to either flat out read it to the judges, or just to help her remember the details about the project while she speaks with them. She gets flustered, and I think this is an awesome solution. I made sure to tell her that out loud, too.
We talked about things we could do to make her planned projects stand out a little more. I told her that where appropriate, I think she should still do pairs or sets to show that she’s not just working to get the greatest number of ribbons possible, but is really putting time in. I also pointed out that clearly I don’t know what the judges themselves want, but can guide her as to what I would look for if I was judging.
The judges can’t see the perseverance that goes into some of her projects, but she and I know, and I’m her biggest fan and cheerleader. I’ll make sure she gets the feedback she needs.