Loving Our Children, Loving Our Homeschool
Diana Waring shows us the way to an Abundant-Life Homeschool
By Suzanne Reid
The theme this year for the CHOIS state homeschool convention is "Loving Education at Home." I can't think of a better theme and a better speaker to illustrate this theme than one of our workshop speakers-Diana Waring.
For the past 18 years, Diana has traveled around the world speaking to thousands of homeschoolers, bringing a message of loving our kids and loving homeschooling. Working with her husband Bill, Diana has developed a ministry/business that focuses primarily in two areas-encouragement and curriculum.
While the Warings are veteran homeschoolers and much could be written about their numerous products, this article focuses on Diana's new History Revealed curriculum, which she is in the process of completing with Answers in Genesis; and two of her homeschool classic books—Beyond Survival: A Guide to Abundant-Life Homeschooling, and Reaping the Harvest. To learn "beyond" what's written here, you will have to visit her in Boise at our CHOIS Convention, June 3-5, 2010.
With great enthusiasm and humor, Diana shares her love of God and history in a manner that is contagious to children. From the dusty pages of history, she brings to life the fascinating stories of real people whose lives intersected with great moments in history leading to the accomplishment of great feats.
The premise behind History Revealed is to teach history as HisStory. Diana has developed the material so that students would understand history from God's point of view. She desires that students come to "view all history-all cultures and events-in the light of God's revelation of Himself and His ongoing redemptive purpose."
Another foundational concept communicated in this history and throughout Diana's work is the idea of honoring and respecting the children that God has given us. Each of us is created in the image of God and is unique. Most likely, our children's gifts are not the same as ours, and the biggest challenge most parents face is that of appreciating the differences in our children. Instead of being frustrated with those who learn differently than us, we need to humbly respect them and discover how God made them.
With that in mind, Diana has spent years studying how to reach both the hearts and minds of our children, and the results are integrated into her curriculum. She has structured the history series on the foundation of three approaches to learning, which are the Four Learning Styles, Three Learning Modalities, and Eight Intelligences. The Four Learning Styles was developed by Myers-Briggs and is a categorization of how each personality style learns best. The Three Learning Modalities-Visual, Auditory, and Kinesthetic-are the three means, which learners use to process and retain new information. Lastly, Howard Gardner of Harvard University theorized the Eight Intelligences, which are natural areas of talent, which humans possess, beyond basic verbal and mathematical skills. Diana explains these learning approaches clearly at the beginning of the Teacher Guide, so that the parent can discover her child's learning style, modalities and intelligence and then begin gearing education to meet her child's God-given abilities.
History Revealed covers history from Creation to AD 1950 in three separate packages. Ancient Civilizations covers Creation to Jesus Christ (4004 BC to AD 29). Romans, Reformers, Revolutionaries covers the Resurrection to the American Revolution (AD 30 to 1799), and the soon-to-be-released World Empires, World Missions, World Wars will cover from Napoleon to Korean Conflict (AD 1800 to AD 1950).
Each section of history year is divided into nine units, each requiring four weeks to complete. Within the four weeks, each week is geared to one of the four learning styles. For example, week one appeals to the "Feeler" Learning Style. During this week the student listens to auditory recordings, and reads and discusses Scriptures and history materials. Week two appeals to the "Thinker" by studying timelines, vocabulary, and research projects. Week three appeals to the "Sensor" Learning Style with art projects, science experiments, map-making, etc. Week four provides the "Intuitor" Learning Style opportunities for creative expression through drama, dance, poetry, etc. Students approach the history in each unit from the four different learning styles, maximizing their understanding and memory of learning.
The curriculum is a complete package designed for a year's study. It includes a hardbound Teacher Guide, a companion paperback Student Text, and three history DVD sets. On the DVD sets, Diana narrates captivating history stories, biographies and church facts under the titles of "What in the World?" "True Tales," and "Digging Deeper." For those who want to administer tests, Diana has created a test kit, which has a comprehensive test and answer key for each unit. Younger children can follow along with the ancillary "Elementary Activity Book," designed for children, grades K-4. It is a fun approach to studying history with recipes, puzzles, Bible stories, crafts, and much more.
The beauty of History Revealed is its design, and I don't mean its graphic design, although that is professional and very pleasing. History Revealed is masterfully structured for those who depend on a curriculum for detailed direction, yet it allows freedom and creativity for those who tend to feel trapped by structure. Additionally, families using this curriculum could teach several children in varying grades concurrently. The first week of each unit includes relevant reading lists from several grade levels. Families can study together but complete different assignments relevant to each student's grade level and learning style. The curriculum meets the needs of every learner and instills a joy of learning HisStory.
Beyond Survival: A Guide to Abundant-Life Homeschooling
In this encouraging book Diana provides practical ways to get beyond the burned-out life of many homeschoolers. She willingly shares stories from her own beginning years of homeschooling, her struggles with guilt as she compared herself to other homeschool moms, whom she thought were doing it perfectly, while she was struggling with limited funds, piling-up laundry and late dinners. Kindergarten was fun with her firstborn, Isaac, but with each subsequent year, the pressure to educate her son mounted, and the task became more unbearable. She discovered that she was an utter failure and cried out, "Oh, wretched home school mom that I am. Who will deliver me from this horrible thing called homeschooling?"
Through a process of prayer and direction from experienced homeschoolers, the Warings developed a new model of homeschooling. They eschewed the "Cadillac" homeschool curricula, that she couldn't afford, in favor of real books, real life, real science experiments, real learning-all items she had around the house or could find at her community library. The result was a love of learning and a joy in homeschooling, which was as fragrant as an apple cooking in the oven, says Diana.
She says that this business of homeschooling is a spiritual endeavor, not just an educational one. She says, "Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it." Parenting involves nurturing, loving, listening, encouraging, and discipling, all of which are spiritual activities. In order to build our houses according to His plan, we need to Listen to Him, Obey Him, and Follow His Spirit—and not settle for anything other than following the Lord, and not the current homeschool leader, or motivational speaker.
In the last third of her book, Diana discusses the practical how-to's of homeschooling. She introduces parents to the idea of developing their own educational philosophy. She discusses three different approaches to education and suggests that they be used independently or in a blended synthesis.
Diana strongly suggests working with our child's skills and gifts. Remember this process is about understanding our student, not trying to mold the student into a learner fashioned in our image. She encourages us parents to listen to our kids as they work through the curriculum. If a child is struggling, don't assume they are trying to weasel out of work. Perhaps that curriculum is not right for that child. Mix up the methods of learning, and look for a curriculum that will draw them in.
Lastly, Diana reminds us that if we let God build our educational house, we move beyond survival and into an abundant homeschool life.
Reaping the Harvest
Aptly titled, this book starts where Beyond Survival ends and guides parents through the process of loving their teenagers and raising them to be world changers. The book is divided into three parts: "Tilling the Ground," "Sowing the Seed," and "Reaping the Harvest." Within each of these sections, Diana humorously illustrates her points and provides abundant resources for further reading on each topic.
In "Tilling the Ground," Diana discusses the importance of preparing the soil of our children's hearts by becoming their friends. She emphasizes spending time with them, enjoying them and listening to them, but most importantly loving them.
"Sowing the Seed" is a rich chapter full of motivational principles and methods, which the student needs to read with his parents. The first principle Diana emphasizes is that whatever a student's desire may be, they absolutely must have a "yagottahaveagottawanna." This is the Waring family code for digging deep, and giving it "all you've got." In this section, Diana discusses goal planning, health habits, spending and giving habits, and purity before marriage. The last two sections cover the fascinating eight ways, in which God made us all "smart"—the eight intelligences; and the importance of developing strong thinking skills and diligently studying from a Biblical worldview.
In Reaping the Harvest, Diana reminds us that it is God who is really in charge. She says that as Christians, we do not belong to ourselves, and we are to be Ambassadors for Christ. She transfers this concept into the business world and says, "Business is about Jesus—accomplishing His goals, fulfilling His plans. It's not about us; we belong to Jesus."
This is a wonderful goal-planning book to work through with your child. It begins with establishing a foundation of biblical thinking, moves onto preparing well for the future, and finishes with entrusting the future to His divine direction. It is like a young person's version of What Color is your Parachute?
To learn more about this thoughtful and inspirational veteran homeschooler, check out her website at dianawaring.com, or at the Answers in Genesis website, answersingenesis.org, under "History Revealed."
Suzanne and her husband Brian are board members of the Idaho Coalition of Home Educators. They have been blessed to homeschool their children for the past 13 years. To contact Suzanne, regarding books you'd like her to review or comments, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org