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Meet Your New Co-Host: An Interview with Diane Kummer

June 26–30, 2017   |   Vol. 131, Week 4

We’re excited to announce that Diane Kummer has joined the Homeschool Heartbeat team as a co-host with Mike Smith!

As a high school consultant for HSLDA, Diane shares her insight with homeschooling parents in a relatable and reassuring way. And now she’s bringing that same encouragement on air. Tune in to hear Diane share how she overcame her biggest struggles as a homeschooling mom.

In this podcast, we’ll talk about:

  • Why Diane chose to homeschool
  • Diane’s biggest struggles as a homeschooling mom
  • The time Diane’s daughter described her as “the Gestapo”
  • How Diane encourages homeschooling parents
  • 3 common struggles that homeschooling parents face

“Homeschooling humbled me, but I found the Lord’s grace was more than abundant.” — Diane Kummer

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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 in 2005?

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 homeschooling.

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.

Diane KummerPhoto of Diane Kummer

Diane and her husband Tom homeschooled their two children from kindergarten through 12th grade using a variety of teaching options. Both of their children went on to college, and are now well into their careers.

Diane joined the staff of Home School Legal Defense Association in 2005 to help develop HSLDA’s Homeschooling Thru High School program. As an HSLDA High School Consultant, Diane regularly speaks nationwide at homeschool conferences and presents high school symposiums where she shares from her experiences and her imperfect (but real) homeschooling days! Her practical and encouraging high school seminars provide information that inspires parents to continue teaching their teens at home with confidence.

Diane enjoys writing articles (such as regular columns for HSLDA’s Court Report magazine as well as other publications), brochures on high school topics, and a monthly high school newsletter filled with helpful tips. She reviews new resources, provides personal consultation to HSLDA members, and is a co-host on HSLDA’s Homeschool Heartbeat radio program. Her entries on HSLDA’s Homeschooling Now Teaching Tips blog provide parents with timely high school information and advice.

Diane loves math and taught high school math classes for homeschooled students for many years. She also led a homeschool group of over 200 families while coordinating classes and activities.

In her free time, Diane enjoys teaching ladies’ Bible studies and being involved in pro-life ministries. Having graduated from the Pennsylvania State University with a bachelor’s degree in Business Management, she enjoyed a banking career prior to starting a family and beginning her homeschool adventure.

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