Welcome to my homeschool blog, which offers insights into loving learning, loving your family, loving history, loving homeschooling, and enjoying your life! With your cup of coffee in hand, take a break to laugh with me, to have your heart refreshed, to be reminded of how cool your kids really are, and to consider the amazing adventure of being a homeschool mom. AND, if you are interested in the History Revealed curriculum, be sure to check out my Teaching Tips!

Do you mind if I retire?

Diana Waring is retiring from speaking!

At the 2015 Cincinnati Great Homeschool Convention, I made this public announcement:

"As of this weekend, aside from special circumstances, I am going to retire from speaking!" After twenty-six years (27 convention seasons) as a speaker, it is time for an ending and a new beginning. So, today's blog is an introspective trip down memory lane, as well as my perspective on some of the changes in homeschooling since the 1980s.

First, the stats.

Beginning with the 1989 WHO convention in Tacoma, Washington, I have spoken at more than 300 homeschool conventions throughout the U.S., Canada, N.Z., Australia, Korea, Thailand, Hungary, and Scotland. Added to that are more than 150 homeschool meetings, ranging from "fireside chats" to day-long seminars to week-long family camps in such diverse places as London, England; Rotorua, New Zealand; and Hilo, Hawaii. I have spoken in every state except Rhode Island, Vermont, and Kentucky. One year, I experienced the climactic extremes of speaking in Alaska in February (-15º F) and Hawaii in March (75º F)! And, we've seen a huge range of audiences. With our three children, I performed a musical concert for an audience of 2,000 in Orlando, Florida, and, shortly after, gave presentations to as few as four homeschooling families in small towns in New Zealand. We estimate that, in all, I have spoken to several hundred thousand people across four continents in nearly three decades.

Family stats:

The Warings in concertAfter 1989, our three children traveled with us until they either graduated or were close to graduation—including to Canada and New Zealand. (They missed all of the other experiences, and we missed having them with us!!) From 1993 until 1999, part of our repetoire was to present a family concert—Yankee Doodle Tells A Tale—an entertaining look at American history through folk music. Bill and Diana WaringFrom Portland, Maine, to Portland, Oregon, we performed over 100 concerts in mid-1800s costume to the enthusiastic response of homeschooling audiences.  After 1999, we began singing other styles of music together on convention platforms, including an a cappella rendition of "Java Jive." My indefatigable husband and best friend, Bill, has worked for the past twenty-six years, both behind the scenes and alongside me, at each of these conventions—apart from one in Tampa and one in Atlanta.

Favorite memories:

As I close my eyes and reminisce, the image pops to mind of my family belting out sea chanteys as we set up and tore down our booth at conventions. "Away Rio" was our favorite for this task, and usually had other vendors smiling and nodding in time to the rhythm. It made the work easier, faster, and it was incredibly fun! Honestly, setting up and tearing down has never been the same since we broke up the band. . . Also, having my kids show up again and again at my workshops was delightful, but surprising. When I would ask them why they had come (since they had heard it all before many times), they would say, "Yeah, Mom, but it's so FUN to hear you speak!!" I treasure those comments more than words can express.

Favorite conferences:

Diana speaking in New Zealand, 2009The most incredible experience I ever had as a speaker was in Auckland, New Zealand, in 2009. There was something magical that day between the audience and me, as they laughed uproariously at my jokes and shed tears as I shared my heart. I knew that they had given me a remarkable gift as they openly and instantly responded to every nuance of parenting and homeschooling that I shared.

And, then there was the first national homeschool conference in Scotland in 2005. Since my ancestoral roots are Scottish, I  asked them to consider me their long-lost, strangely-accented cousin. . .and they did! With vendors from four nations, the organizers were thrilled with the audience turnout—and so was I. It was incredibly honoring and humbling at the same time to be the speaker to thirty-five eager and attentive homeschooling parents. And, though the number may sound small, it represented something massive in that nation.

Perhaps my favorite convention in the U.S. was in Orlando, Florida, in 2000, when we spent an evening with Rosemary von Trapp, eldest daughter of Captain and Maria von Trapp (you can read about it here). It was another one of those never-to-be-repeated, magical evenings that live on in my memory.

Changes I've seen:

In 1989, when I began speaking to homeschoolers, the national movement was less than ten years old. Increasingly, though, we were seeing divisions taking place, as people vocally took sides over whether to have "Christian" support groups or "inclusive" support groups. Traditional textbook companies, who had only recently begun to sell to homeschoolers, vied with entirely different kinds of approaches, primarily "unit study" and "unschooling"—and each group had vocal supporters and critics.

In the mid-1990s, some in the homeschool movement were bringing other "outside-the-norm" concepts to homeschooling, including homemade bread, home births, living off the land, owning your own business, and  courtship. You may not remember this, but the BIG news among homeschoolers at the end of the 90s was the fear-based scenario of Y2K. It became a joke on January 1, 2000, when the world as we know it did NOT end—and many were left with odd "survival" foods, like gallon jars of dried celery!

When it came to moms (and dads) actually teaching their children at home, the early homeschool methods—traditional, unit study and unschooling—now added the much older Charlotte Mason approach (from 19th century England), and then, in a race to the past, classical education (drawing from the ancient Greeks, with a nod to medieval Europe). Online academies and even public charter schools made their way into the homeschool market. For those who wanted a bit of this and that, the term "eclectic" was coined. A veritable smorgasbord of educational choices, with an increasing flood of curriculums and materials, was now available to  families. But this did not actually make things easier.

In the past decade, the homeschool message has seldom included the idea that teaching your kids at home brings FREEDOM to enjoy learning, to explore areas of interest, to learn at a comfortable pace, to have free time in which to create or practice or try something new. Instead, we are often told that, in order to succeed, students need to accomplish more, work harder, do it faster, study more subjects than ever before. No wonder so many are finding this overwhelming! And, no wonder homeschool moms are struggling more and more with guilt, fear and failure.

And, yet. Week after week, we have heard first-hand stories of families loving homeschool, of students enjoying learning, of amazing creativity taking place. So, this kind of homeschooling is still alive and well. My hope is that it will grow and prosper!

What's next:

Watch beauty bloom in the gardenGrowing flowers and herbs and vegetables, for starters. I want to play in the dirt with my seeds, and then watch beauty bloom right before my very eyes. (Traveling during spring and early summer each year has definitely had a dampening effect on my gardening aspirations. . .) And, while we're ambling in the garden, I want to watch the birds playing in our backyard. So far, we've counted twenty-six species. . .but I am hoping for more! 

I am not completely retired, however. Though I have finished on the speaking circuit, I am still a writer. Gardening and bird-watching are just hobbies to delight in after writing each day.

So, what will work look like, since conventions are now a thing of my past? Along with continuing to blog about how to enjoy homeschooling, writing for The Old Schoolhouse and Home Educating Family magazines, and doing an occasional online workshop this summer, I am looking forward to teaching a nine-month online history course for high school students with Red Wagon Tutorials (the class is Napoleon to MacArthur), and, finally, writing an adventure book I've been waiting TWENTY YEARS to write. It is one of the most incredible stories I've ever heard, it's verifiably true, and I've got all of the original sources for it. Can't wait!!!

How it ends:

We are planning, with the help of a dear friend, to have a retirement party this September, and, possibly, an online party as well. In the meantime, if you have stories, anecdotes, thoughts, or blessings to share with us as we walk into this entirely new season of life, feel free to post comments here, to share with us on Facebook, or write us at:

Diana Waring
P O Box 1261
Anderson, IN  46015

Teaching Tip 8—The Spiritual Focus
Artificial Curriculum? Part 2
 

Comments 19

Guest - Karen Gouvin on Friday, 24 April 2015 07:04

I started homeschooling in 1998. I found you early on (though I can't remember how). My kids know you as "the laughing lady". We listened to your tapes (yes, tapes-musical and speaking) and I read your books. You introduced us to Hank the Cowdog (many laughs).


I am sad that I never had the opportunity to hear you speak in person. I live in RI...so it makes me sad to see that it is one of very few places you've never spoken.


Your work continues to inspire us and help us on our homeschool journey. (I have 10 children...4 have graduated but the youngest is just 5 so we have a long way to go.) Thank you for all you have given the homeschool community. Congratulations on your retirement. I wish you all the best.

I started homeschooling in 1998. I found you early on (though I can't remember how). My kids know you as "the laughing lady". We listened to your tapes (yes, tapes-musical and speaking) and I read your books. You introduced us to Hank the Cowdog (many laughs). I am sad that I never had the opportunity to hear you speak in person. I live in RI...so it makes me sad to see that it is one of very few places you've never spoken. Your work continues to inspire us and help us on our homeschool journey. (I have 10 children...4 have graduated but the youngest is just 5 so we have a long way to go.) Thank you for all you have given the homeschool community. Congratulations on your retirement. I wish you all the best.
Guest - dianawaring on Friday, 24 April 2015 12:54

Thanks, Karen! I love hearing that I was the "laughing lady"! And, what a treat to know that, though I never spoke in Rhode Island, I have a friend there! :)

Thanks, Karen! I love hearing that I was the "laughing lady"! And, what a treat to know that, though I never spoke in Rhode Island, I have a friend there! :)
Guest - Heidi Shaw on Friday, 24 April 2015 08:20

Oh Diana.. I will never forget your laughter, your hugs, and your complete belief that I could do this thing! My kids have grown up alongside yours and it was my joy to watch your son graduate alongside the kids up here in Canada- what year WAS that? The climate here has changed so much, and my heart grieves for the community we had. Especially now that my kids are having kids. How do we pass the torch of freedom and joy to this next generation when the sheer cost of living is so pressing. After we lost touch a few years back my daughter got married and moved to NZ where she got her degree in midwifery! We are so proud to watch their wee family grow, and I know about the heart connection to NZ. Even though they are back in Canada I know a huge part of their 'family' now lives over there.
Thank you hardly seems enough, for all the laughs, tears, words, and encouragement. My best memory of you all is when you were singing 'Family Reunion' for us. My heart will have to wait for that I guess. Go grow your flowers and love your family my friend. We will have that piece of pie together in heaven, I know! THANK YOU!!
Heidi Shaw
BC, Canada

Oh Diana.. I will never forget your laughter, your hugs, and your complete belief that I could do this thing! My kids have grown up alongside yours and it was my joy to watch your son graduate alongside the kids up here in Canada- what year WAS that? The climate here has changed so much, and my heart grieves for the community we had. Especially now that my kids are having kids. How do we pass the torch of freedom and joy to this next generation when the sheer cost of living is so pressing. After we lost touch a few years back my daughter got married and moved to NZ where she got her degree in midwifery! We are so proud to watch their wee family grow, and I know about the heart connection to NZ. Even though they are back in Canada I know a huge part of their 'family' now lives over there. Thank you hardly seems enough, for all the laughs, tears, words, and encouragement. My best memory of you all is when you were singing 'Family Reunion' for us. My heart will have to wait for that I guess. Go grow your flowers and love your family my friend. We will have that piece of pie together in heaven, I know! THANK YOU!! Heidi Shaw BC, Canada
Guest - dianawaring on Friday, 24 April 2015 12:52

Ah, Heidi. Thank you for reminding me of how our paths crossed at that graduation in B.C.!! It was 1999. . . I love that you got to hear us singing "Family Reunion"! It was written by a precious Canadian friend from my college days, did you know that? And, I look forward to that piece of pie, dear one!! Hugs and love. Diana

Ah, Heidi. Thank you for reminding me of how our paths crossed at that graduation in B.C.!! It was 1999. . . I love that you got to hear us singing "Family Reunion"! It was written by a precious Canadian friend from my college days, did you know that? And, I look forward to that piece of pie, dear one!! Hugs and love. Diana
Guest - IllinoisLori on Friday, 24 April 2015 09:00

What a blessing you have been, in my life and in so many, many others' lives. Your writings reached out and touched my heart and provided me with a direction I could relate to. Thank you for giving so much of yourself...congratulations on this retirement, and I wish you many years of blessing in the next phase of adventure closer to home!

What a blessing you have been, in my life and in so many, many others' lives. Your writings reached out and touched my heart and provided me with a direction I could relate to. Thank you for giving so much of yourself...congratulations on this retirement, and I wish you many years of blessing in the next phase of adventure closer to home!
Guest - Susan Raber on Friday, 24 April 2015 09:07

Sounds great - I'm excited about each step in our homeschool journey, which for me will be over in the next couple of years. I think change is what keeps us young and fresh, so good for you!

Sounds great - I'm excited about each step in our homeschool journey, which for me will be over in the next couple of years. I think change is what keeps us young and fresh, so good for you!
Guest - Stacey Masrud on Saturday, 25 April 2015 07:25

Congratulations on a job well done! My daughter is signed up for your history class next fall and is very excited. Prayers for all your future endeavors...

Congratulations on a job well done! My daughter is signed up for your history class next fall and is very excited. Prayers for all your future endeavors...
Guest - Katie Abercrombie on Saturday, 25 April 2015 08:30

Thank you so much for helping so many of us along the homeschooling journey. I have fond memories of listening to your history tapes on some of our many long trips to visit family!

Thank you so much for helping so many of us along the homeschooling journey. I have fond memories of listening to your history tapes on some of our many long trips to visit family!
Guest - Barbara West on Saturday, 25 April 2015 15:15

Ah my dear friend.....Loved the walk down homeschool memory lane. Oh my yes, those were just some of the "battles" we lived through. I cannot actually remember our first meeting but I do remember it was a kinship in my heart from the get-go. You were a "somebody" and, well, I was just NOT -- but you were so warm, such fun to be with, and welcomed all with open arms.

My memory with our families though consists of food! Ha! Like that was a surprise to anyone! Chinese food at The Great Wall in Rapid City, South Dakota. It became a tradition when you all were near.

I will content myself to looking forward to your true adventure book instead of hosting you in July of 2016. btw -- I still use those first two sets of "Where in the World" history tapes from the '90's. Good stuff.

Love to you, my dear Diana!

Ah my dear friend.....Loved the walk down homeschool memory lane. Oh my yes, those were just some of the "battles" we lived through. I cannot actually remember our first meeting but I do remember it was a kinship in my heart from the get-go. You were a "somebody" and, well, I was just NOT -- but you were so warm, such fun to be with, and welcomed all with open arms. My memory with our families though consists of food! Ha! Like that was a surprise to anyone! Chinese food at The Great Wall in Rapid City, South Dakota. It became a tradition when you all were near. I will content myself to looking forward to your true adventure book instead of hosting you in July of 2016. btw -- I still use those first two sets of "Where in the World" history tapes from the '90's. Good stuff. Love to you, my dear Diana!
Guest - dianawaring on Friday, 01 May 2015 14:46

Ah, Barb!! There has never been anything quite like our adventures at the Great Wall in Rapid City!! And, of course, one of my favorite memories of YOU was when I was desperately looking for a tissue in my purse—and you had a neat and tidy pack of Kleenex to go!! You inspire me. :)
Hugs and love!!

Ah, Barb!! There has never been anything quite like our adventures at the Great Wall in Rapid City!! And, of course, one of my favorite memories of YOU was when I was desperately looking for a tissue in my purse—and you had a neat and tidy pack of Kleenex to go!! You inspire me. :) Hugs and love!!
Guest - JC on Thursday, 04 June 2015 16:52

Hi Barb, Judith Cahow, I can vouch for the Where in the World cassettes! My grandchildren have heard them....well a couple have..there are 8 girls and 1 boy. However, I first heard Diana in Orlando, 1989? Or so..then shortly after, we moved from FL to SD and I got to know Diana better...remember when she got pneumonia and landed in the hospital! I brought her some soup and homemade bread! I am still homeschooling my last child with one more year to go for a total of 34 years when it is all done. Then it is retirement!

Hi Barb, Judith Cahow, I can vouch for the Where in the World cassettes! My grandchildren have heard them....well a couple have..there are 8 girls and 1 boy. However, I first heard Diana in Orlando, 1989? Or so..then shortly after, we moved from FL to SD and I got to know Diana better...remember when she got pneumonia and landed in the hospital! I brought her some soup and homemade bread! I am still homeschooling my last child with one more year to go for a total of 34 years when it is all done. Then it is retirement!
Guest - joh on Tuesday, 28 April 2015 17:01

thanks, from New Zealand. You may like to retire Down Under?!

thanks, from New Zealand. You may like to retire Down Under?!
Guest - dianawaring on Friday, 01 May 2015 14:45

Oh, that is REALLY tempting!! New Zealand is like our second home. . . :)

Oh, that is REALLY tempting!! New Zealand is like our second home. . . :)
Guest - anneglaze on Wednesday, 13 May 2015 20:41

In the garden playing in the dirt sounds just perfect. I'll meet you there for some delightful conversation and laughter. Let's pick a date, soon!

In the garden playing in the dirt sounds just perfect. I'll meet you there for some delightful conversation and laughter. Let's pick a date, soon!
Guest - Heidi Shaw on Sunday, 26 April 2015 19:39

I think you did tell me that, yes, but I have forgotten the name of the writer. Did you ever record it? We crossed paths in the mid 90's :) In 1999 my oldest was 16...and I had been using your materials for years by then ;) Now he is about to become a father for the first time...what an adventure this has been. Blessings to you my friend!

I think you did tell me that, yes, but I have forgotten the name of the writer. Did you ever record it? We crossed paths in the mid 90's :) In 1999 my oldest was 16...and I had been using your materials for years by then ;) Now he is about to become a father for the first time...what an adventure this has been. Blessings to you my friend!
Guest - dianawaring on Friday, 01 May 2015 14:48

The composer of "Family Reunion" is Reid Johnson, in B.C. I wish we had recorded it!! One of our favorite family tunes. . . Congrats on becoming a grandmother soon!! Hugs to you, Heidi!

The composer of "Family Reunion" is Reid Johnson, in B.C. I wish we had recorded it!! One of our favorite family tunes. . . Congrats on becoming a grandmother soon!! Hugs to you, Heidi!
Guest - Barbara West on Friday, 01 May 2015 15:02

LOL! Oh my...I do remember that! I think we may have all been piled in our old Suburban and the Great Wall was involved! <3

LOL! Oh my...I do remember that! I think we may have all been piled in our old Suburban and the Great Wall was involved! <3
Guest - Barbara West on Friday, 05 June 2015 09:38

Hi Judy! Wow! Coming up to 34 years! There are not many who can state that! Good job!

Yes, I do remember Diana and her landing in the hospital. Those weren't such good times but many of the other times most definitely were. My cassettes started to bite the dust in the early 2000's so we replaced them with CD's.

I think in the 80's that Bill and Diana were with Lifetime Books and Gifts before she launched on her own -- which I think she did in the 90's. When we were in DC I had her come to speak at our military support group there -- she was a huge hit as usual.

Are your children homeschooling now? Heather is but Tiffany is not yet married. Blessings to you and yours! Barb

Hi Judy! Wow! Coming up to 34 years! There are not many who can state that! Good job! Yes, I do remember Diana and her landing in the hospital. Those weren't such good times but many of the other times most definitely were. My cassettes started to bite the dust in the early 2000's so we replaced them with CD's. I think in the 80's that Bill and Diana were with Lifetime Books and Gifts before she launched on her own -- which I think she did in the 90's. When we were in DC I had her come to speak at our military support group there -- she was a huge hit as usual. Are your children homeschooling now? Heather is but Tiffany is not yet married. Blessings to you and yours! Barb
Guest - JC on Friday, 05 June 2015 10:37

Yes, the grandchildren are being homeschooled..oldest is 11 and youngest is 1. I laugh at the 34 year mark..some people think I am the grandmother and other's wonder/joke that my kids not catching on? Hannah is 17 and everyone else is grown and on their own..

I am looking forward to Diana's history from Napoleon to McArthur for highschoolers....I want to go thru it! I love Diana's teaching style.

Yes, the grandchildren are being homeschooled..oldest is 11 and youngest is 1. I laugh at the 34 year mark..some people think I am the grandmother and other's wonder/joke that my kids not catching on? Hannah is 17 and everyone else is grown and on their own.. I am looking forward to Diana's history from Napoleon to McArthur for highschoolers....I want to go thru it! I love Diana's teaching style.
Already Registered? Login Here
Guest
Tuesday, 21 November 2017
If you'd like to register, please fill in the username, password and name fields.

Captcha Image