As a high school consultant for HSLDA, Diane Kummer shares her insight with
homeschooling parents in a relatable and reassuring way. And now she’s bringing
that same encouragement on air as the new co-host for Homeschool Heartbeat.
Mike Smith: My guest this week is Diane Kummer. Diane is a
former homeschooling mom, she’s one of HSLDA’s high school consultants, and
now she is our new co-host on Homeschool Heartbeat. Diane, thanks so much
for joining us and welcome to the program!
Diane Kummer: It’s great to be with you, Mike.
Meet your new co-host [0:34]
Mike: Diane, this week we’d like to introduce you to our
listeners here on Homeschool Heartbeat. So let’s go back to the
beginning. How did you first hear about homeschooling?
Diane: I first heard about homeschooling when my oldest child,
my daughter, was about 4 years old. I met two families at church that homeschooled their
children, and my first thought was, “Wow, that’s so interesting!” I
saw homeschooling as a viable option for them, but at that point, I had no intention of
homeschooling my children.
Mike: So what made you and your husband decide to start
teaching your children at home?
Diane: My husband and I had always assumed our children would
attend public school. However, right before my daughter was to start kindergarten, we
discovered that due to the delay in construction of a new school in our neighborhood and
the closing of another nearby school for remodeling, our daughter would need to attend a
third school that necessitated about a 45-minute bus trip for a half-day kindergarten
program. That’s when my husband and I said, “What are the
alternatives?” We considered private school, but we couldn’t afford tuition.
So we read more about homeschooling, and we decided we would homeschool—but just
for one year.
“Homeschooling humbled me” [1:42]
Mike: Diane, what were some of the biggest challenges you faced
as you homeschooled your children—and how did you overcome them?
Diane: Well Mike, the biggest challenge I faced was fear. I was
afraid I didn’t have the intelligence, patience, or know-how to educate my
children. Although we thought we would homeschool only [in] kindergarten, we
homeschooled both children all the way through their high school graduations. And I
battled the fear of failure throughout those years at different times. Homeschooling
humbled me, but I found the Lord’s grace was more than abundant. I learned from my
mistakes, I asked for help from others, and I was involved in homeschool support groups
where I would be encouraged time and time again.
Mike: Well, what were some of the most rewarding parts of
homeschooling—assuming there were?
Diane: There were. For me, the most rewarding aspect of
homeschooling was the time I was able to spend with my children. Now that they’re
33 and 30 years old, with careers and families of their own, I realize how quickly the
time went by. Homeschooling gave me a front-row seat as they read the first book,
discovered the bird’s nest outside our kitchen window, and as we served together
at a nursing home for many years. It wasn’t always easy living in those close
quarters of homeschooling. But the time I spent with my children was precious, and
I’m grateful for that time.
The simple memories [3:01]
Mike: Diane, as you think back over your time homeschooling
your children, are there any experiences or moments that stick in your mind?
Diane: Well Mike, for me the most memorable experiences were
the simple ones: for example, the hours I spent reading aloud to my
children—including books we still talk about, such as All Things Bright
and Beautiful and The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. I also
remember the many field trips we took, where I was there to experience their joy of
discovery, such as the Kennedy Center children’s programs, museums, art galleries.
Last, I fondly remember those lifelong friendships I formed with other homeschool moms
who were in the trenches with me day after day.
Mike: Diane, do the homeschool moms learn any lessons, and if
so, did you learn any lessons?
Diane: Well the most important lesson I learned came after I
heard my daughter describe me as the Gestapo, because I was always tough, ruthless, and
demanding when homeschooling. And that stopped me in my tracks. Yes, I wanted to be
serious about homeschooling, but I didn’t want it at the expense of enjoying my
children. So after that remark by my daughter, I learned to lighten up a bit, and not
take homeschooling so seriously that I neglected to have a warm, lighthearted, and
caring relationship with each of my children. It was a struggle on some days, though, to
maintain a good balance of responsibility and nurturing.
Reassurance and relatability [4:21]
Mike: Diane, what made you decide to accept a position at HSLDA
Diane: My daughter graduated from high school in 2001, and my
youngest son graduated in 2005. My homeschool days were over, and I was now out of a
job. One of the HSLDA’s attorneys approached me and said HSLDA was developing a
high school program to assist families teaching their teens, and would I consider
working for HSLDA? What an opportunity! I always respected the work HSLDA did on behalf
of homeschool families. I love teaching, encouraging, writing, and speaking. I get to do
all of the things I love at my job with HSLDA. I’m so grateful to be here.
Mike: Okay, I have this question for you, Diane: How has your
homeschool journey equipped you to encourage and support homeschool families in your
role as a high school consultant?
Diane: Mike, the main contribution I bring to my job is
relatability. I identify with homeschool parents who struggle with a child who
doesn’t want to be homeschooled. I can rejoice with parents who thought they could
never homeschool their teen. But after some encouragement and support, they’re
writing to let me know about their teen’s post-high school graduation plans. I
want to be real as I answer questions, give advice, or remind parents their homeschool
days will soon come to an end. Speaking honestly about my own homeschool experience
gives parents reassurance that help is available and they can do a wonderful job
teaching their teens.
Common struggles (and their solutions) [5:50]
Mike: Diane, what are some of the most common struggles facing
homeschooling parents today?
Diane: Some of the common struggles that face homeschool
parents who call me center around three issues. One is what to do when a child is
reluctant to do his schoolwork or is unmotivated. Another issue is how to overcome
feelings of inadequacy when preparing teens for graduation. A third common struggle is
comparison. Homeschool parents compare their spouses, their children, or the ways that
others homeschool. And they come away feeling discouraged.
Mike: So what do you advise these parents to do about that?
Diane: First, I reassure parents: others face the same
struggles. If older children lack motivation, help them see the connection between their
studies and the skills they’ll need in the future.
For parents who feel their children won’t be prepared, remember that public
schools design an education and then children need to fit into it. However, when
homeschooling, you design a custom education that best fits your child.
Last, to curb feelings of discouragement tied to comparison, see your child, family,
and homeschool as unique. This allows you the freedom to learn from others, yet it
liberates you from the desire to duplicate someone else’s approach to
Mike: Thanks Diane, that’s great
encouragement. I’ve enjoyed talking with you this week, and I’m so
excited that you’re joining me as co-host here on Homeschool
Heartbeat. I know our audience will appreciate your unique insights and perspective
just like we do. And until next time, I’m Mike Smith.