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!

How to Crush Learning

How to crush learning? That’s not what we signed up for, right? As homeschoolers, we are committed to our children’s education and development. We want to help them soar!

So, why this blog on how to crush learning? Good question!

To answer, let’s play with our food for a minute:

Imagine that you are hungry.
You are told, “Sit down, be quiet.”
You are given a plate with a portion of something labeled “food.”
It has no taste and no recognizable texture.
You are not allowed to add spices or ketchup.
Though it is unappealing and unappetizing, you can’t get up until you eat it.

Imagine that that is your experience every single time you feel hungry.

It wouldn’t take long before you’d lost interest in eating.

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The Dad Who Had to See For Himself

The dad who had to see for himself

I love when a dad involves himself in some aspect of homeschooling—whether it is listening to his kids’ recital of what was learned that day, teaching a subject he enjoys, or finding practical ways to support his wife in her extraordinary (and challenging) career as a homeschool teacher. The following is one of my favorite examples.

One snowy February day, I was speaking to a group of parents at a homeschool conference  in Saskatchewan. As usual, my topics ranged from loving learning to loving history, with generous doses of “enjoy your kids” and God’s faithfulness interspersed throughout. One couple sat in the front row for each of my workshops, responding with smiles and affirmations for the things they heard. 

As a speaker, finding those folks in the audience who are “with you” is very encouraging, so I was glad to have them in the front row. It wasn’t until the end of the day that I learned what had motivated them to be present at all my workshops. 

The dad introduced himself and said, “My family listens to your history CDs as part of their curriculum, and, frankly, I’ve been listening as well.” He went on to say that he owned a recording studio, which gave him a behind-the-scenes look at those who might sound “bigger than life” on a recording, but were less than that in real life. As he had listened with his family to my history CDs, he had enjoyed the stories but had been somewhat skeptical about me.

So, when he saw that I was keynoting at the homeschool conference, he told his wife that he was coming too—for the express purpose of checking me out.

Gulp. I hadn’t known that. I anxiously held my breath to see what he was going to say next.

With a beaming smile, Kelvin said, “And, Diana, after sitting here all day, I can tell you that you’re the real deal! You absolutely believe this—you’re really speaking from your heart.”

Relief. I passed the test I hadn’t known I was taking. 

To hear Kelvin’s thoughts on my curriculum and history CDs for yourself, here’s an informal interview (imperfectly mic’ed!):

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3 Tips for Breaking the Wall of Inertia

3 Tips for Breaking the Wall of Inertia

Is there a wall of inertia looming all around you right now? Sometimes that happens in the gray days of winter. . .When inertia takes hold, homeschooling is tedious.

Is there a solution—apart from gritting your teeth and waiting till spring? Absolutely! Here are 3 Tips for Breaking the Wall of Inertia:

      • Inspire
      • Discover
      • Play

First of all, Inspire. When facing a Wall of Inertia, or obstacles of any sort, read someone else’s story about how they overcame the odds, broke through the wall, and achieved their goals. Inspiration provides hope, which is the first step—it helps us to believe that it is possible to keep going. That is why we love stories of people like Joni Eareckson Tada and Corrie ten Boom, because they remind us that there is incredible blessing on the other side of our challenges. So, I want to encourage you to read or reread a story that will inspire you. I am currently rereading an old biography of Billy Graham by Stanley High.

3 Tips for Breaking the Wall of Inertia, Diana Waring BlogNext, Discover. Take time to ask yourself what specific factors are weighing you down, and then share that with your spouse or a wise friend. Discovery provides insight into our fears and worries, which is the second step—it brings those fears and worries into the light. Are you gripped with fears that you aren’t doing enough (even though you’re doing more than anyone you know)? Are you staying awake at night, worrying about the future for your kids? Are you convinced that you’re a terrible homeschool mom? Once you have exposed these hidden fears— sharing them with someone safe, who knows and loves you—you can bring them to the Lord in prayer (which is the best way to decisively deal with fears). Fear and worry are two of the most insidious destroyers of peace and joy, so don’t keep “entertaining” them. "Lies Homeschool Moms Believe" by Todd Wilson is VERY helpful.

Finally, Play. One of the best ways for beating the winter blues is to regularly laugh and have fun! Honestly, playing recharges your homeschool. Laughter wakes up the brain, a merry heart is like a medicine, and providing extra doses of fun for your kids is guaranteed to add energy to the day. So, take your planner right now and block out time for reading a funny book out loud, playing a game that makes your family laugh, and going outside to make snowmen (or sand castles). Playing will provide an energizing zest for both you and your children, making each day easier and, believe it or not, far more profitable when it comes to learning. "Hank the Cowdog" by John Erickson, read out loud, is hysterical!

You CAN do this! That Wall of Inertia is tumbling already.

And, remember, spring is coming!

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The Bible and History

The Bible and History

How do these fit together: the Bible and history?

Many people today say that they don’t fit together at all, that the Bible is filled with historic myths that only the ignorant believe. . .With a flick of their wrist, they dismiss both the possibility and the one who believes that the Bible and history are connected.

There is a different way to view this, however. Rather than dismissing the connection between the Bible and history, we can examine it. As we learn more, we will see evidence for viewing historic accounts in the Bible as real history. Some fascinating—and life-changing—things will emerge from this pursuit:

      • Bible stories we heard as kids will—with evidence and, maybe, with controversy—become rooted in actual civilizations;
      • ancient civilizations will provide new understanding of Biblical accounts;
      • our faith will be strengthened as we see God’s faithfulness.

I didn’t know this when I started teaching my kids. But when we began to read aloud A Child’s History of the World, by V. M. Hillyer, I kept wondering where the Bible stories fitted into the narrative. We heard about Itchy-Scratchy and the pharaoh who built the Great Pyramid, but there wasn’t any reference to specific people or events listed in the Bible.

Having had a dramatic encounter with the Living God when I was a teenager—which utterly changed my life—I knew that the Scriptures contained life-giving truths. And, having studied evidences for Christianity (apologetics) during university days, I knew that a Bible-based faith was grounded in historic events and specific fulfilled prophecies. So, undaunted, I began searching for the connecting points between the Bible and these ancient civilizations—with my kids watching closely.

First topic on my agenda was Egypt and the Exodus, which I quickly found to be filled with modern-day controversy. Entering museum galleries about ancient Egypt, I had seen posted statements that there “is no evidence of a biblical Exodus.” Historians argued over the date of Exodus (if they accepted there was one at all)—was it in the 1200s or 1400s B.C.? What was the route taken, and did the Hebrews cross the Red Sea or the Reed Sea?

Digging down into the controversies brought ancient Egypt (and the ancient Hebrews) to life for us. No longer merely mysterious (they mummified cats?), these ancient people were suddenly much more complex, with fears and uncertainties and encounters with the God who valued them. (If that last one surprises you, read Isaiah 19:25.)

He was faithful then, He is faithful still.Next, familiar Bible stories, like Jonah going to Nineveh, became far more dramatic when we learned archaeological details of that ancient culture. The Assyrians were so good at breaking into walled cities (the ancient form of protection from invaders), that their reputation preceded them everywhere they went. The atrocities committed on those who refused to surrender their cities were beyond my comprehension. Suddenly, Jonah’s reluctance to go to Nineveh and his anger at God’s forgiveness of the Assyrians became far more understandable. These were the “Nazis” of antiquity! And, yet, we see God’s heart for them in Jonah’s quote, “I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity.” (Jonah 4:2)

Immersing myself into the Bible and history also brought a totally unexpected result that had nothing to do with academics. In seeing repeatedly God’s heart expressed in ancient history, I found that I was no longer afraid for the future. He was faithful then, He remains faithful still.

If you would like to immerse yourself in these stories, click here for my audio CD set, What in the World, Volume One—covering Creation through Jesus Christ.

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Time for a Change?

Are my children thriving?

I love the beginning of January because it’s fresh and new—anything is possible! It’s also a great time to ask yourself: Is it time for a change? In this fresh year, we all think about trying something new, making new plans, and, as homeschoolers, we can even think about making a change in the way we teach our kids.

Here is a question that may help you evaluate whether you need to make a change:

Are my children thriving or am I pushing them through the school day?

If you consistently, day after day, hear comments—"Mom, do we HAVE to do this?" "Mom, I'm bored!" "Mom, why do we have to do school?"then it’s good to evaluate the materials AND the method you are using.

Evaluate the materials

Do your kids find their books or curriculum interesting? Are these materials appropriately challenging? As Goldilocks knew, it needs to not be too soft, nor too hard, but just right!

If the curriculum is not interesting to them, then it is critical to make changes now—before an entire school year is wasted and before your kids decide that learning is boring/impossible/not for them. Sell, trade, or barter that curriculum if you can, OR go to the library where there are lots of great literature books, science books, history books, and more. Spend the rest of this school year discovering with your kids how INTERESTING books—and learning—can be.

In fact, if your kids learn to love reading and learn to love learning this year, instead of hating the school work, it won’t have been a waste at all! Sometimes, change is a VERY good thing!

Evaluate the method

It may be the educational method that is causing your kids to wilt. An ineffective approach to education can be like having your kids wear clothes that are way too big or way too small for them. It may clothe their bodies, but they’re not comfortable and can’t easily move with them. In the same way, we know that our kids need to learn, but using the approach that you experienced in school probably won’t fit your kids.

When I look back on my own school experience, it felt like my teachers’ approach was to stuff as many facts into my brain with as little meaning or connectedness to each fact as possible. The problem was that, though I could regurgitate them onto a test, I forgot them soon after. . .and I didn’t really know what those facts meant.

Though this is the common approach, what happens if we can find a better way, one that fits how our children actually learn?

A far more effective method for teaching is to “salt their oats”—which will make them thirsty to learn more. You do this by creating a rich learning atmosphere so the student's interest is piqued. . .where a student's natural curiosity draws them into a subject.

      • Read a fascinating book out loud or watch a movie about what your students are going to study.
      • Engage them in a round table discussion on geography, like "Why do people keep on living beside active volcanoes instead of moving away?"
      • Plan a field trip to the closest zoo to make the subject of "zoology" come alive as your students see bears "up close and personal.”
      • Interview a person whose work uses the subject under consideration. So, for students studying journalism, grammar or creative writing, interview a newspaper reporter.

Curiosity & a thirst to know are huge motivators!Here are some examples:

Learning is connected to real things. When you introduce learning in this way, your kids will suddenly discover that they want to know more. Curiosity and a thirst to know are HUGE motivators for learning. And that will transform your homeschool!

Making this kind of change may seem a bit radical, but as your kids find that they LOVE reading and LOVE learning, it will have been one of the best decisions of 2016! And if you are looking for better curriculum and better methods of teaching, check this out.

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