radio show

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.


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.

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.

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.

HST Notes, California, the Olympics, homeschoolers at school and the gifted

Update: This week’s show is posted, but there is some dead air at the beginning of the program after the intro.  Once I got the sound working, I didn’t realize it was working so you can listen to the introduction twice, at least until I have time to edit it.  If you fast forward to about ten minutes into the program, you will have sound.

Home School Talk Notes

Join me Monday, August 18 at 1PM CST to discuss news, homeschooling “as it should be” and homeschooling the child with special needs.

Coming feature: The show should soon be available via iTunes.  My understanding is that it can take up to a week to be included and may not immediately show up in searches, but I will announce as soon as the show is there.

Last week’s show (8/11/08), available here:  Home School Talk, The Gifted Child

I.  California Appellate Court ruling regarding homeschooling

The first article I read regarding the decision actually popped up in my feedreader from OneNewsNow, a conservative Christian news site.  After summarizing the case, I focused on the closing paragraph of their report.

Farris says groups like the Alliance Defense Fund, Liberty Counsel, HSLDA, and Focus on the Family teamed up and were armed with new information that compelled the court to uphold parents’ constitutional right to educate their children at home.  OneNewsNow

From the beginning of this case, I was impressed by the ability of so many disparate groups to work together for one common goal.  HSLDA and the three statewide California homeschool associations were even able to issue a joint statement showing their commitment to the preservation of homeschool liberties for all.  But suddenly, now that the case is over, the only ones of relevance are conservative, Christian groups?  Rather than commending the efforts of California homeschoolers, all recognition goes to a handful of national interest groups.  Annoying, and I’m not even from California.

II.  The Olympics

In 2004, the US diving team failed to bring home a medal for the first time in 96 years, raising concerns that perhaps the program needed to change.  One of the biggest challenges the team faced was the fact that US athletes tend to train part time whereas athletes in other countries train full time.  The answer?  Homeschooling.

USA Diving established a national training center three years ago in Indianapolis and continued to identify young and talented athletes.  Wingfield and Chen started to sell athletes and their families on the idea of training full-time and being home-schooled.  JCOnline (original article removed)

For students who see homeschooling as a sacrifice to be made for their Olympic dreams, they seem to be doing pretty well.

My daughter also had a comment on the story, but you will need to listen to the show to hear her (along with her lovely introduction to the show, of course!)

Links for lessons:

Summer Olympics 2008 Lapbook

Debbie’s Digest, with a variety of links and information

III.  An Unschooled Child’s View of School

This was a brief discussion of Kevin Snavley’s essay “Education From the Free Eye,” and included some thoughts on the introduction, which I discussed here last week in A homeschooled child’s view of school.

IV.  Gifted education

My guest this week was Susan of Life on the Planet who spoke from her experience homeschooling a gifted child.

If you have questions, comments, show ideas or would like to be on the show, please email my at homeschooltalkshowATgmailDOTcom.  Or leave a comment here.  Also, if you have any lessons you would like to share or have come across, let me know.  I would like to at least occasionally feature lesson plans and unit studies, especially when they are relevant to the news of the day.

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.

Homeschooler in Germany to be guest on Home School Talk

Update:  The show is posted, however we had some technical difficulties and there is a bit of dead air.  I will edit that and the irrelevant segment our later so it might be better to listen to the show tomorrow when it will be shorter and without so much silence. And here it is:  A look at homeschooling in Germany.

Rina, an Irish woman homeschooling her children in Germany will join me on Home School Talk Monday, July 21 at 1 PM CST to talk about homeschooling in Germany and her recent experience presenting her petition before the European Parliament Petitions Committee.

The situation for homeschoolers in German has made a lot of news recently as the state has become more aggressive in pursuing homeschoolers and has rejected virtually all exceptions, save for child actors and musicians.  Educating Germany is one of the best places to keep up with all the newest developments.

Please join us Monday to listen to Rina’s experiences, plans and ask her your own questions!

Also, I am looking for a possible co-host to make the show a little more conversational and a little less of a monologue from me.  If you think you might be interested, please contact me at homeschooltalkshowATgmailDOTcom and we can talk it over.