When looking at homeschool World History programs, you want to make sure you get your information from someone who knows what they are talking about. Recently I was able to interview a wonderful author and speaker named Diana Waring. If you have been around homeschooling for very long, this name should be familiar to you. She has been speaking and writing about history for over 17 years. Although I have heard some of her homeschool World History material in the form of her "What in the World's Going on Here" audios, I have never met her in person until now.
What is your homeschool World History curriculum and what makes it different from a traditional curriculum package?
Hi, Heidi. Thank you for asking. For years, we have been preparing and perfecting materials to help students learn world history. Education is relational -- so we seek an environment where the parent can be aware of the concerns and interests of the student, and can have a response that allows the student to learn and to retain the information.
Our homeschool World History curriculum series is called History Revealed, which includes:
• Ancient Civilizations & The Bible (from Creation/Flood through the resurrection of Jesus)
• Romans, Reformers, Revolutionaries (from the Early Church/Fall of Rome through the American & French Revolutions, 1790s)
• World Empires, World Missions, World Wars (from Napoleon through the Korean War, 1950s).
This is a non-traditional approach to studying homeschool world history. Non-traditional in two ways:
1) History becomes a lens through which we can discover the "fingerprints" of God. We learn more about His faithfulness, goodness, wisdom, provision, perfect timing, etc. within the context of the events of history -- what happened and can we see evidence of God's involvement.
2) Students are invited to learn in ways that are interesting and personally motivating to them. If only one approach were necessary for reaching all students, like a traditional classroom, then all students would be valedictorians. Instead, different students need different opportunities in order to grasp and retain new information. Many alternative activities are presented throughout the pages of our Student Manuals to draw in all of the different learners. Education is relational. And Mom does not create all of this stuff -- the ideas are contained within the curriculum.
How is this possible?
First, to discover the "fingerprints" of God in history, we consider:
• ancient civilizations in light of the Scriptures (for instance, did you know that God speaks of Egypt as "His people" and Assyria as "the work of His hand"—Isaiah 19:25?)
• the Middle Ages and beyond in light of Church history (for instance, did you know that Francis of Assisi shared the Gospel with the Egyptian sultan during the 5th Crusade?)
• the 1800's through the mid-1900's in light of the Modern Missions movement (for instance, did you know that a revival of epic proportions took place in Pyongyang, Korea just before the 1910 Japanese invasion?).
Second, to invite students into a love of learning, we:
• provide learning experiences through visual, auditory and kinesthetic means
• utilize each of the four learning styles by cycling through four phases in each unit, so that sometime during each unit each one can learn in the way best suited to them
• offer many choices of projects and pursuits, so whatever is fascinating to the individual can be studied! Again -- education is relational!
What subjects are included in your homeschool World History curriculum?
History, Bible, Geography, Literature, Art/Architecture appreciation, Music Appreciation, Science experiments, Cooking with options for: Creative Writing, Drama, Pantomime, Dance, Art projects, and more!
For High school students, credit can be earned in these areas, along with:
Research & Reporting
What types of learning styles does your homeschool World History curriculum cater to?
Students who enjoy:
• listening more than reading, OR
• reading more than writing, OR
• hands-on projects more than reading, OR
• drama and dance and art and music, OR
• wars and guns and catapults and sieges, OR
• storytelling and talking together, OR
• writing creatively and then filming it, OR
• working independently, OR
• -- the pages of the Student Manual are full of these ideas.
How much parental involvement is needed when using your audios, books, and guides?
First of all, when moms ask us how much "teacher prep" time is needed, we normally suggest three hours per month. However, in dialogue with Lori, a long-time user of our materials, we learned that she doesn't believe ANY teacher prep is actually required for our History Revealed curriculum—she just picks up the Teacher's Guide and starts up the next unit. Our three-hour notion includes reading through the Key Concepts Explained -- half hour; glancing over the projects for familiarity -- half hour; looking online at local library listings for titles recommended in the unit -- half hour; driving the kids on a library raid -- 1 1/2 hour, including a stop at the grocery store.
Secondly, the major role parents play in this curriculum is to be:
#1) the facilitator that helps students gather necessary materials for their selected projects and creative offerings, and
#2) the audience for their students as new things are being learned and projects are being displayed.
When it comes to the audio CD's, many families listen to these storytelling accounts of history while traveling in the car, doing dishes, painting the walls, getting ready for the day, and before going to sleep at night! (Yes, these are all true-life examples that homeschooling families have shared with us.)
For upper elementary students using the Student Manual, parents are going to be much more involved as they help these younger students chart a course through the options and opportunities. Mom's face-to-face time will vary a lot, from merely approving an older student's plan to helping guide a younger one through the whole process of selection and focus of their idea; of course Phase One is all about purposefully being together to consider what has been learned in the Intro. For middle school and high school students, a much larger degree of independence is possible through use of this curriculum—which works well with the growing skills and self-motivation we often find in homeschooled students.
How long has your homeschool World History curriculum been around and how did you get started?
I began teaching workshops on homeschool world history in 1994 at homeschool conventions, produced the original "What in the World's Going On Here?" audio tapes in 1995, and created the original study guides in 1997-99. Recognizing the changing needs of the next generation of homeschoolers, we began an extensive revision of the entire homeschool world history curriculum in late 2003. It will be finally completed in the next few months—seven and a half years of full-time research and writing!
Is there a certain order I should follow when deciding which books or guides to use when?
Great question, Heidi! For families just starting their study of homeschool world history, I would recommend starting at the beginning with Ancient Civilizations & the Bible. However, if they have already studied that time period, picking up with Romans, Reformers, Revolutionaries or World Empires, World Missions, World Wars would be a great way to jump in to discovering more about history and God's faithfulness in it! If Mom or the kids have a keen interest, pursue that teachable moment.
How many lessons are in each homeschool World History package?
There are nine units, arranged chronologically, in each set. Each of these nine units breaks into 4 phases:
Phase One: Introduction of that Era in History
Phase Two: Exploration & Discovery
Phase Three: Hands-On
Phase Four: Creative Expression
We have designed each of these four phases to fit into one week. Four phases, four weeks=one month. Nine units x one month each=Nine-month school year. Three sets x Nine-month school year=Three year repeatable cycle.
(BTW, these four Phases correspond to four different learning styles. Every student will cycle through all four, regardless of their own learning style. This will give them a chance to do what they love most, as well as opportunity to do what stretches them.)
However, many families have enjoyed taking more time through the phases and units. It's adaptable and flexible for your unique needs.
On average, how long does it take to complete the lessons for the day?
Great question!! So much depends on the age of the students, and the way the family approaches the study.
Often, the traditional model of covering each subject each day bogs us down—especially in subjects that our students don't enjoy—and we find that we never get to the "good stuff!" We have found it to be quite helpful in this non-traditional curriculum to structure at least part of the school day with a "university schedule." Using a university-style schedule gives a structure while still granting tremendous freedom and flexibility. What that means is that it works well to have a longer "class time" 2-3 sessions per week, because it will allow students to have an uninterrupted time of working on projects, crafts, skits, research, etc.
One Example (be sure to include several quick breaks/drink water/have snack/do a few stretches during this time!!):
M, W, F - Math 9:00 - 10:00 (using math manipulatives & story problems, making sure that students really understand the concepts)
T,R - Language Arts 9:00 - 10:00 (playing with grammar, brainstorming ideas for poetry, etc.)
M, W, F - History Revealed 10:30 - 12:30 (longer time frames encourage art projects, mapping, creating scenery, strategizing action games, reading great books, having in-depth discussions)
T, R - Science 10:30 - 12:30 (time for science projects, field trips, and more)
Afternoons - whatever else you want to do! Second semester, reverse it.
Any advice for new homeschoolers?
Enjoy the journey!! If you are feeling overwhelmed, discouraged, or burned-out, it's quite possible that you are following someone else's formula for success. But if that formula does not take into account your unique children, your particular circumstances, and your personal giftings and passions then it will become tedious and irritating. Education that's Relational is concerned with you and your children and how you do life, rather than with adapting your life to someone's plan. I would like to encourage you to step back, begin to pray for God to show you what He has in mind, and open your heart to a whole new world of learning. There are books and people who can help you along the way, who will give a hand over the obstacles. Pray and ask the Lord for those books and those people. And remember, He LOVES to answer prayers like this!
My Comments: Thanks so much for participating in this interview with me and giving me an insight into your homeschool World History program. For readers who want to purchase Diana's materials, they can go towww.dianawaring.com