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Stay-at-home moms produce their own ballet video

Stephanie Troeller and Mary Kate Mellow are two stay-at-home moms with ballet-loving children.  Unfortunately, there seemed to be a lack of quality ballet videos meant for young children so, like any good parents, they made one themselves.  The end result is a lovely DVD:  Prima Princessa Presents Swan Lake.  It incorporates young children dancing, toys and clips from the ballet Swan Lake performed by the Paris Opera Ballet.

“Can we watch it again?” is about the highest praise bestowed on a video by a young child.  And my three year old has said that numerous times.

In the meantime, we have made our own video.  I doubt I’ll be going on tour to promote it anytime soon, nor will it show up on Amazon.  But we are excited…we are the proud grandparents of five brand new baby gerbils, born Sunday morning to Kit Kat (the black female) and Buttercup (the blond father).

Aren’t they adorable?  Now that the house is still, and the children are no longer hovering over the cage, I can hear their soft squeaks.  But I need to start finding homes for them.  We’re keeping one.  Don’t know which, but Bear decided to name it Lollipop in keeping with the candy theme started with the other two.

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Disclosure: I received a copy of the DVD for free in exchange for a review.  My three year old’s opinions, however, are not swayed by such things.

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A Home School Talk Labor Day special

Join me on Labor Day (Monday, September 1) for Home School Talk’s first ever holiday special! (Monday, 1PM CST)  The show is now archived at that link if you want to listen to it! This will be a shortened show, only half an hour, but will feature positive and encouraging stories about homeschooling.  I will also have a very special guest and co-host:  my own nine year old daugter.  She will be discussing the stories with me and talking a bit about her own homeschooled experience.  Which unfortunately hasn’t been entirely positive.  In fact, she doesn’t want to go to public school because she figures it is everything she doesn’t like about homeschool, but longer and without as many breaks.

My poor eldest daughter suffered the most under her drill sergeant mother who tried to make kindergarten and the beginning of first grade look more like boot camp a classroom than a home. I discussed this more during Back to Homeschool Week, but happily I’ve improved.  To her, school still seems to mean “copy work.”  Actually, everything she doesn’t like, she identifies as school.  Everything she does like is just life.  And she seems to be tired of me reminding her that “this is school, too.”  So I can’t win.  We’ll see what she thinks of being on the radio.

Note to iPod users: For some reason my show was moved to the Heading Right channel without my knowledge and that was the feed being used by iPod.  It is now moved back to where it belongs, but it will likely be a couple of days before the feed over at iPod is corrected.

Upcoming guests:

September 8: Ann Zeise of A to Z Home’s Cool

September 15: Kelly Curtis of Pass the Torch and author of Empowering Youth

Show Notes for 8/25/08

Barefooted Children

To begin, I relate a story about my children at a local carnival and an overheard conversation between a younger woman and an older woman about children not wearing shoes.  The younger woman thought they were cute; the older woman didn’t seem to agree.  But there are a multitude of reasons for a bias agains barefooted children.

The school in which I taught, for example, was previously known for being the school for children without shoes.  Possession of shoes was for many a recognizable division between rich and poor. I would guess that those who lived through that stigmatization might be more inclined to be sure that their children had nice shoes regardless of the health benefits known for children running barefoot.

Minority Homeschooling

Related, perhaps, are recent stories about the increase of homeschooling among minorities, particularly among African Americans.  The Houston Chronicle notes the increase, stating that blacks homeschool for many of the same reasons as whites while also having concern for teaching their cultural heritage.  Dr. Brian Ray of the National Home Education Research Institute also noted one reason the black community has been reluctant to embrace homeschooling:

Peer pressure also might have kept many blacks away from trying something different, Ray said. In the black community, there’s always been a strong advocacy for public schools. Many blacks see them as a good route to leveling the playing field for everybody, he said.  Chron.com

Two years ago, the San Francisco Chronicle ran a similar story with a little more information.  It includes some insight from Jennifer James who, as the founder of the National African American Homeschooler’s Alliance, likely understands the challenges this group faces a little more personally.

“Some educators and families think that because blacks fought so hard to get equal access, we shouldn’t abandon it.  But times have changed. It was a great step, but we have to think about our kids.” San Francisco Chronicle

I, on the other hand, as a white, middle class American never had to fight for access to public education and often take it for granted and often as not much of a privilege at all.  Walking away from the system was therefore not so difficult.

Connecticut Tax Revolt

An interesting story in the Wall Street Journal takes a look at Connecticut education and the dissatisfaction of tax payers who are paying more than twice as much for their education system while enrollment has only increased ten percent over the last 25 years.

One proposed solution?  Homeschooling.

The calculator [on the website of a local tax payer group] enables the resident of any town to compare the cost of constructing and staffing a new building (or addition) to the cost of simply subsidizing the overflow number of students to attend private, parochial or home schools. Says David Bohn, president of the group: “You could extend the subsidy to children already in such schools and still save hundreds of millions long term.”  WSJ online

And one politician has suggested paying students to not go to school:  $1500 for vocational school, $3000 to homeschool and a $5000 scholarship for private school.  All in the name of saving tax payer dollars.  It makes you wonder about all the programs out there trying to attract homeschooled students back into public schools even on a part-time basis.  Sure, these students bring money to the school, but at what expense?

Encouragement from Germany

Hans-Ulrich Pfaffmann, an education expert from the Social Party of Germany (SPD), which would be the more left-leaning of the major parties in Germany, was recently interviewed by the Bayerischen Rundfunk, a radio station in Bavaria.  He had some interesting comments on homeschooling in Germany (my translation):

I deem prison sentences or fines in this situation as a total overreaction because in reality, homeschooling can be very high quality.  To this extent, it is certainly a topic which one must work on politically.  There can be no black and white here, instead one must be able to discuss the subject without ideological blinders.

There cannot be a single dogmatic stance of the state that the state must educate all children.  I think we must really put the possibility of homeschooling on the discussion list, then I can envision starting a homeschooling pilot project as school replacement.  That cannot be put off until never-never day, but must happen quite quickly to see if it is an option.

If you would like to hear more on homeschooling in Germany from someone homeschooling in Germany, I interviewed Rina in July for the show, A look at homeschooling in Germany.

Those measly homeschoolers

I actually went into this a bit more on my blog this week as I talked about homeschoolers and vaccinations.  I don’t know that I made my point that clearly in the show, but really all I was saying is that you look at these issues a little differently when your child is affected, even as you continue to support the decisions of every parent regarding their choices for their own children.  It becomes more personal and you become more aware of the risks involved.

Guest:  Jube Dankworth

Twenty year homeschool veteran Jube Dankworth joined the program to talk about why she chose to homeschool, how homeschooling as grown over the years and ways to advocate for homeschooling.  She is also the founder of Texas Home Educators and national director of Homeschooling Family to Family, a ministry of Frontline Ministries.

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Home School Talk discusses the gifted child

Update: OK.  Scratch this post.  BlogTalkRadio is having issues right now.  BUT FOR ONCE THEY ARE NOT MY FAULT!  BlogTalkRadio is not recognizing the keypad tones to enter my password, which appears to be a problem they occasionally have.  Fun, fun, fun.  And I should know not to say that I’m looking forward to a show with out technical difficulties.  My husband even took a day off to help with the children today, but now I guess I get to enjoy a day out with the family.  I like the idea of a live call-in show, but my oh my do the technical things get to me.

Only four hours to show time!  Join me at 1 PM CST for Home School Talk.  Susan of Life on the Planet (the lady with the crazy cat) will be joining us again, but this time to talk about teaching gifted children.  You can join us in the chat room as well to talk with other homeschoolers and call in with your thoughts.  The show will also be available for download a few minutes after the live broadcast.

Everything is working at the moment and I am looking forward to the prospect of possibly having two shows in a row without technical difficulties.  I had a little sympathy for Steve Brown as he tried to get through a three hour show unable to go to ad breaks and not always able to take calls.  He at least had his producer to talk to, but I couldn’t help but laugh.  I’m not the only one!

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Homeschooling in Germany

The edited version of the show with Rina talking about her experiences homeschooling in Germany is finally available.  It is much better without all the dead air.  At the start, I talk a little about my experience in Germany and how my first visit to Berlin affected me.  I wanted to share a few of my pictures, but seem to only have one uploaded here on my blog.  Next weekend, I’ll try to upload some more for those of you who are curious.  This is not part of the monument I referenced, but is graffiti across the street from where the wall used to be.

Berlin Wall

Across the top in red, it reads “At some time, every wall falls.”  I believe it was written before the wall actually fell.  And this cartoon illustrates the difficulty in unification I mentioned:

The little Ziggy-like figure with the night cap is known as “Der Deutsche Michel” (The German Michel) and is a sort of symbol of the nation akin to Uncle Sam here.  The problem of unification is well represented here as there are two Deutsche Michel.

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How Does Homeschooling Benefit Society, show notes

Home School Talk

July 7, 2008

Topic:  How Does Homeschooling Benefit Society?

This show is available for download by following the above link.  The following is an outline of what you will find there along with links to the stories referenced.  This is how the show was planned to run, before I lost the Internet connection and was unsure of whether I would be able to get to my guest.  The normal format of the show has the news stories first.  Here, they are reversed because Terri had to leave at 1:30 (although in the actual broadcast, most of them were shared before my husband was able to get the Internet reconnected).

Introduction and Vision for Home School Talk

My vision for Home School Talk focuses on a quote I found on a bus stop on the way to drop of my homeschooling paperwork.

Upon the subject of education and not presuming to dictate any plan or system respecting it I can only say that I view it as the most important subject which we as a people can be engaged in.

Abraham Lincoln, 1832  To the people of Sangamo County

It is to this most important subject I dedicated my blog and to which I dedicate this show.  Although I have strong convictions about education and the bringing up of children, my purpose is not to dictate any particular plan or system, but merely to explore ways of all parents to direct the education of their own children.  My tagline for this show is “a voice for hoemschooling” but it could have as easily been “perspectives in homeschooling” because I plan to explore many perspectives, including those with which I personally disagree.

The definition I use in the show is from Noah Webster’s 1832 Dictionary of American English.

Guest:  Theresa Willingham

I met Theresa through the Homeschoolers United Internet forum, a list dedicated to recognizing the common ground we have as homeschoolers.  She is a home educator of 14 years, vice president of Learning is for Everyone, a freelance writer, and, along with her husband Steve, a home educator of 14 years.

The Topic:  How Does Homeschooling Benefit Society?

Theresa does a wonderful job outlining how homeschooling benefits not only our families but also all of society.  There were several main themes:

I.  Financial.

Homeschoolers pay the same taxes, yet do not use the services of the public schools.  When multiplied by the approximately 2 million homeschoolers out there, this amount can be significant. There is also the so-called “homeschool market,” a billion dollar industry that has been called a “vapor market” because of the difficulty some companies have had in directing a portion of that market to their products.  A lot of that billion dollars is going to small, independent, home-based businesses.

2.  Civic Activity

Homeschoolers tend to be informed and active.  One example she gave was our extensive use of library services.  The books homeschoolers request, however, are frequently the same books which families of children in public schools find the most useful.

3.  By Stimulating Public Discussion

The success of homeschooling challenges traditional models of education, and in turn pressures the public education system to become more adaptable.

4.  An Educated Citizenry Benefits Us All

Homeschoolers tend to emphasize character traits such as frugality, industry, love of learning and self-reliance which are beneficial to society.  (I quoted Sunniemom of A Woman on Purpose, and her original words may be found in this thread at Heart of the Matter.)

The situation I shared from the 1970s when President Nixon was worried about failing private schools summarizes all of the same benefits, but applied to the private school system.  It is in an article by Martin R. West, The Future of Tax Credits.

News Stories:

Senator Vitter (R-LA) has introduced legislation to give a federal tax credit to homeschooling.  I touched on this topic a little on my blog already, and will explore it in more depth on the 21st on Home School Talk.  While it is not likely to pass this Congress, it isn’t the first time it has been brought up, and similar proposals have been made at the state level as well.

Virginia has new homeschool laws effective July first.

Trusting God as the Floodwaters Rise.  World News has an nice human interest story about a homeschooling family forced out of their home by the flooding.  Then out of the home of Natalie’s parents.  Then out of another home before a teacher they had both had back in high school offered them refuge in a house she owned.

Omaha is a tough act to follow says ’84 gold medalist. She also says that she wouldn’t trade her life now, homeschooling her two daughters in Virgina, with anything.

Coming Up (Subject to change):

7/14/08  Carol Topp, the Homeschool CPA, discussing Homeschool Coops

7/21/08  An exploration of issues surrounding tax credits for homeschoolers

7/28/08  Professor Gaither discussing his book Homeschool:  An American History.

Special Thanks:

A number of people have helped me with launching Home School Talk through their encouragement, ideas and help with promotion.  I know I am likely to forget someone, but each week I would like to recognize a few people who have helped me in getting this show together and available. 

The entire team over at Heart of the Matter, who helped me considerably as I was still deciding if I really wanted to do this, Chad of Grizzly Groundswell who put the crazy idea into my head in the first place, Renae of Life Nurturing Education who has been bombarded with every pang of nervousness I have had since the planning stages, Tianny of The Home School Lounge for her encouragement and prayer, Susan of Life on the Planet (and her cat) for volunteering to be guinea pigs for my test show and Percival Blakeney Academy for the wonderful suggestions while I was still planning the first show.  Maybe next week I can start working through all of the people who have linked to the show!

Contact:

If you have a question, comment, or would like to be on the show, please contact me at homeschooltalkshowATgmailDOTcom.  Or via the comment form here.