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Bringing History to Life!

An Interview with Diana Waring

November 19, 1998

The following discussion was conducted live on a chat program hosted by Mary Leggewie. Bill and Diana Waring have been married since 1979 and are parents of Isaac (17), Michael (15), and Melody (13) who have been homeschooled since birth. The Warings reside in South Dakota summer and winter, and on the homeschool convention trail during spring and fall. Diana studied music, drama and acquired a B.A. in French. These interests have found a fulfilling outlet in homeschooling her children as together they have performed a family storytelling concert, "Yankee Doodle Tells A Tale", from coast to coast. Diana loves ethnic cooking, meeting internationals, reading, and crocheting lace. Along with being a wife and mom, Diana has been a South Dakota Touring Artist, a featured speaker at dozens of homeschool conventions, a popular radio show guest, and a regular homeschool columnist at Best of the Christian Web. The Warings have a family homschool business, Diana Waring - History Alive!, which produces books, tapes, videos, and history curriculum for the homeschool market. Their mission statement is "to encourage, equip, and educate families in an entertaining way." Please visit Christian Book Distributors' Diana Waring Specialty Shop to see her products.

What do you consider the most important part of homeschooling?

Diana Waring: Relationships! Relationships between moms and dads, between parents and children, between brothers and sisters, and between all of us and God. All the rest will do us little good if the relationships are neglected. Education, character training, entrepreneurship all follow from these relationships! You can see well-educated people who have absolutely miserable, useless lives because their relationships are not right, and that is one thing homeschoolers can EXCEL in!!

How do you fit in your convention travel with homeschooling?

Diana Waring: We could never keep up our schedule UNLESS we homeschooled!!! We do our homeschooling right on the road. At museums, in the car, in the hotels. You can call us "road scholars..."

Do you lug all your books along? Or do you have a different style of homeschooling while you're on the road?

Diana Waring: Sometimes... But usually we pick and choose VERY carefully!!! We do a lot more reading, geography, singing (a cappella!)... on the road. It's hard to do chemistry in a van that is moving!

How does one wear the hats of "mother," "wife," "teacher," "cook," "chauffeur,", "nurse," "counselor," "detective,"

Diana Waring: First of all, give yourself some room to grow into all of these roles! Figure out what the true priorities are (i.e. wife and mother), then place each of the remaining roles in their order of importance - my own suggestion would be teacher, followed by counselor, cook, and detective. Secondly, I needed to get help from both my husband and my children! My husband became the "sergeant-at-arms" - he set up the chore chart and made sure it was done! Third, we need to make sure to have some time built into our own schedules for the things that refresh us! I HAD to have time to read. So, we had a "quiet time" each afternoon when the children were young. So I could recover and read! And being a servant is important. But we also have to be VERY realistic if we're in this for the long haul!!

How important is it to have dads involved in homeschooling?

Diana Waring: Dads AND moms are so important...They add character into the adventure of homeschooling. Children need to know both mom and dad, and homeschooling provides a wonderful forum for this.

What if Dad isn't sold on homeschooling?

Diana Waring: Dads are often so busy with their jobs that they don't see how they can be involved. But as we dialogue with our husbands, and share with them the areas we could really use their help in, such as Bible, science, etc. It may help them catch the vision. If Dad isn't sold on homeschooling - give him some books to read. Introduce him to some homeschooled children. Pray until he is CONVINCED! My husband was a public school teacher and it took him a few years to get excited. But now, it's the greatest adventure of our lives!

You speak at a lot of homeschool conventions, what are some of the trends you are seeing?

Diana Waring: Lots and lots of new homeschoolers. Unfortunately, however, one of the trends I see that most concerns me is that of folks who decide to homeschool without understanding what homeschooling is all about. I've seen people buy textbooks or an educational CD, and hand it to their children to study all by themselves. And they consider it homeschooling because it happens at home! It often backfires and the parents end up putting their children back into public schools without ever realizing that they never really experienced the blessings and benefits of homeschooling! The way to resolve this is to LEARN more about it!!! Read some of the great books that are out there, ask questions, go to conventions, support group meetings.

And at the same time, that actually harms the image of the homeschooler...the folks in public schools see the failures!

Diana Waring: Absolutely, Mary! Keep asking questions, keep reading. This is our CAREER - we need to learn what we're doing!!!

What are your thoughts on the increase in government school programs for homeschooling and charter schools?

Diana Waring: Follow the money...That's what we've taught our children to look for--Who benefits from these programs? And who really CARES about our children? Hmmm. It would seem that the government schools benefit financially. And that is probably the BIGGEST reason that these programs are out there! No one else has the welfare of my children as their greatest concern, except for me! I've seen friends who've put their children in these programs for an hour...then three hours...then all day...then all week... It's important that we not be naive and ask the hard questions behind these programs! Again, "follow the money!" There's also the question of who influences our children, but that's a whole 'nother question!

Have you got a simple answer to the old socialization question that seems to be the first question we get when we begin homeschooling?

Diana Waring: We are the BEST socializers of our children. If by socialization we mean kindness, thoughtfulness, patience, courtesy... However, if we mean "being influenced by the peer groups"... then, our children are not socialized! It's amazing to me...how many people say "Oh, Diana, your children are SO nice!" But they are unwilling to spend the time that it takes to "socialize" your own children!!!!

Can you share any ideas how to put fun back into homeschooling when you're feeling burned out, and how to avoid burnout?

Diana Waring: First - take a deep breath and relax! Second, get on your knees and ask God for the encouragement you need! Third, read a funny book out loud to your kids! And call it school!! Finally, start reading some good books about how to homeschool (like Beyond Survival), that will help you to make some good, new decisions. We need to have a long-term vision here! Because it allows us to take the time to do this right! Marathon running, not sprints! Set a pace, keep it enjoyable for all.

How can we effectively teach our children subjects that we're not good at?

Diana Waring: First - why aren't you good at it? If it's because you didn't really learn it in school, then, GOOD NEWS, you can learn it right along with your children!!! Like history, for instance! Second, if it's beyond you (like music...) See about finding a good teacher for that subject for your children Third - allow your children to discover things for themselves... Like my son, Michael, has been learning to oil paint - on his own, without help from me (no help here!), and without the benefit of a teacher...because we haven't found one yet! Fourth, try a correspondence course! Lots of possibilities - the best answer... is to pray and ask the Lord to show you the best for your children!

History seems to be your specialty, so let's chat a bit about it! What do you consider to be the most significant aspects of history?

Diana Waring: Well, dear, that's what has made the difference in my life! For me, learning history while discovering what God was doing in Old Testament, the New Testament, and the Church, and the whole thing come together in a life-changing way! As I saw God's perfect timing, His perfect plan, His faithfulness to His people, it really caused me to see how we can trust Him completely... even in 1998!!! It also is very important to have the "big picture" of history to understand the basic overview of history. Because if we only know bits and pieces, it really won't make a lot of sense to us. As we begin to see the flow of history, we will begin to understand WHY people did what they did, how God worked in the nations, what the impact of actions can be, etc.

How do children's learning styles impact the study of history?

Diana Waring: We all learn in such different ways. Some by reading a book, others by listening to music, still others by working with their hands, and and some who learn best by putting on a play! When we realize that history is such a wonderfully rich area of study and that we can free our children to learn about it in diverse ways (rather than just handing them a textbook and expecting them to answer the questions at the end of the book...) THEN our children can truly benefit from this area of learning styles applied to the study of history.

Do you feel one can effectively study history without the use of textbooks?

Diana Waring: I think that textbooks for history are like drinking a cup of coffee with no water - only the freeze-dried pieces! All the GOOD stuff has been taken out!!!

How did you get interested in producing your books, music tapes, and videos?

Diana Waring: When I started teaching my own children world history, we kept learning such incredible things concerning Bible stories and the civilizations of antiquity. When I would tell people some of these stories at conventions, their reaction was usually, "Wow! Can you come home with me and teach my children?" The answer to that was to create these products to help folks teach their own children!!!

Tell us how your world history curriculum (Ancient Civilizations and The Bible, Romans, Reformers, Revolutionaries, etc.) compares to the other world history curriculums available for homeschoolers.

Diana Waring: The emphasis in my world history curriculum is on looking for God's hand in history - both in Bible times, and in the Church. The second emphasis is on seeing the FLOW of history rather than just hopping around from American history to Renaissance to Egypt. This includes, in Ancient Civ, studying Israel, Assyria, Babylon... Persia, and the Hellenistic Period, as WELL as studying Egypt, Greece, Rome. The curriculum is also set up to be used by families with different ages of children.

What age range are your tapes targeting?

Diana Waring: Since we studied history this way in our own family, we learned that it a lot more interesting and a LOT more fun to have everyone learning about the same time period, though on their own levels. Since utilizing the knowledge about different learning styles makes such a BIG difference in how well material is learned and retained. We set up our curriculum to cycle through the four learning styles in each and every chapter. That way, every student can learn the material in ways that work best for them, as well as being exposed to all of the other learning styles!

You have a new video about homeschooling. Would you tell us a about it? How does it differ from your audiocassette?

Diana Waring: Starting homeschooling can be an overwhelming experience. I know, I've been there! So, when we had folks ask if we could create a video for new homeschoolers and support groups, we said "Ok!" Beyond Survival Workshop was filmed before an audience of brand new trembling, scared homeschoolers in a neighboring town. By the time we finished the four lectures, they were smiling, encouraged, and ready to go!!! It is our prayer that these videos will go a long way toward helping folks feel like they CAN do this!

Audience question: How do we persuade reluctant relatives of the value of homeschooling for our previously public schooled children?

Diana Waring: Hmmm. Good question! The best, BEST way I know to convince folks is for them to meet older students who've been homeschooled! But, in my own story, my mom HATED homeschooling for the first nine years! Thought I was destroying her grandchildren!!! But, she finally discovered that the reason her grandkids were so great was because they had been homeschooled! The proof is in the pudding... Though, unfortunately, it takes time to get the pudding!

Audience question: What made you think about doing all those books and tapes?

Diana Waring: Good question, Rachel! The History Alive! Through Music came about because I loved American folk music, and I loved American history! And one day I wondered what kinds of stories there were behind the folk songs I loved and, voila, out came these products!!!

Audience question: Would you comment on Cornerstone Curriculum's, World Views series for the high school years?

Diana Waring: I really appreciate David Quine's work in this World View series! It requires, however, a lot of understanding about history, the Bible, etc. in going in to the program. Many folks are using my world history curriculum AND using David's afterwards or concurrently. It focuses mainly on the world views and philosophies while mine focuses mainly on the history, geography. We both look at art and music.

Do you feel that your materials would be a good preparation for that series?

Diana Waring: Absolutely! David and I see things from a very similar perspective - his stuff is more advanced!

Audience question: How would you describe for someone the meaning of the term "Christian Worldview"?

Diana Waring: The term "worldview" means what a person believes about:
origin of humanity/universe
God/god/gods
the purpose of mankind
the meaning or lack of meaning in history
the value of the individual
Therefore, a Christian worldview refers to a Biblically based, Judeo-Christian view of these points: God created the universe, and created man and woman. God is the infinite personal Creator, Savior, Redeemer. The purpose of man is to know, serve, and obey God in relationship and to enjoy His presence forever. History is all about the plans of God in human history - and man's response to God. The value of the individual is priceless - God sent His only Son to redeem (or purchase) us.

Mary Leggewie: Do you give age recommendations for your products? My children are 4, 6 and 9, and they love the Musical Memories of Laura Ingalls Wilder. What else do you have that they might enjoy? Also, you mentioned that one of your heroes is Gladys Aylward. Who is she?

Diana Waring: I am so glad your children enjoy Musical Memories of Laura Ingalls Wilder! It was such fun to create the music in the studio... and I think it shows in the end result.

We also have America: 1750-1890 covering well-known early American folk songs, and Westward Ho! which covers the songs of the westward expansion (cowboys, Oregon Trail, California gold rush and more).

Many families have told me how much they have enjoyed listening to my audio tape, The Hilarious Homeschool, because of all of the jokes I tell! Actually, the point of the tape is to teach principles of godly humor in the family - humor that builds up rather than tearing down. Lots of humor, lots of fun.

As to Gladys Aylward, she was the "little woman" who went to China from England in the 1930's... A parlormaid turned down by the China Inland Mission because she was too old and not smart enough, Gladys determined to obey God's call in her life regardless. Her story was told in the movie The Inn of the Sixth Happiness with Ingrid Bergman (though it is not completely true to her life). Fascinating woman... and devoted follower of God.

Audience question: I'm considering the possibility of working through your curriculum in the elementary years and moving into Cornerstone's curriculum in the high school years. Could you please give some more specific suggestions on which materials to start with of some sort of order in which to work through them.

Diana Waring: I think your plan is a good one. Cornerstone Curriculum's Worldviews of the Western World are excellent for upper high school students, and my materials provide the foundation in history, Bible, geography,etc., to be able to fully enter into them.

As to where to start - Good Question! There are many possible starting places, but if you are interested in using my materials, I would suggest starting at the beginning with Ancient Civilizations and The Bible (along with the tape series, What In The World's Going On Here - Volume One.) There will be material beyond your children, but much that is useful right now.

I am planning to put out a new book in the spring that might be very beneficial to your family - A "Digging Deeper" Elementary Activity Book for Ancient Civilizations and The Bible. It will have activities, stories, reading lists, games, puzzles, and more, appropriate for K-6.

We realized that there were many families who wanted to study this time frame, but because their children were young, they didn't feel like Ancient Civ would work for them. We're hoping to bridge the gap, so that even young children can begin to see the faithfulness of God in history!

Many thanks to Diana Waring for sharing her thoughts with us here at HomeschoolChristian.com!

HomeschoolChristian.com Resources Related to This Interview

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