Interview With Diane Flynn Keith
Could you tell us a little about yourself?
My husband, Cliff, and I decided to homeschool our two sons in
the "homeschool dark ages" - it was 1992. There was a
definitive void of information. I sought out the few pioneers
in what would become the "modern homeschool movement" and, as
I acquired resources and information, I began publishing
"Homefires - The Journal of Homeschooling," a publication that
networked with other homeschoolers and provided support to
homeschool parents in the San Francisco Bay Area. The magazine
grew to include subscribers throughout the state of
California, across the U.S. and Canada, and even the Federated
States of Micronesia. In 2000, I decided to stop publishing
the hard copy magazine and put it online for free at
I continued to coach and encourage thousands of homeschool
families through writing and speaking engagements. I am a
featured columnist for "The Link National Homeschool
Magazine," and I've written for "Home Education Magazine" as
well as dozens of other homeschool and parenting publications,
zines, and blogs. I have contributed to a number of books on
homeschooling including: "The Homeschooling Almanac," "The
California Homeschool Guide," "The Ultimate Book of
Homeschooling Ideas," and "Homeschooling Styles."
How and why did you get into home schooling?
It was my husband's idea. We tried both public and private schools and were disappointed that the schools' promising philosophy and ideology is rarely carried out in the classroom due to the exasperating variables. Our son was miserably unhappy and since we had exhausted our options - my husband suggested homeschooling as a solution. Once we jumped off that school cliff - we discovered we had wings and soared to educational freedom.
What would you say are the biggest strengths of the homeschooling concept?
1) The ability to custom tailor the learning environment to nurture the interests, needs, and abilities of any given child.
2) The opportunity to engage in self-directed learning.
3) The unconditional time kids have, unencumbered by false agendas, to figure out who they are, what they're good at, what they want to contribute, and how to be happy.
4) The opportunity and time for parents and kids to develop a relationship founded on trust and good will, that bonds them together in the most profound and heartfelt ways.
What are it's biggest weaknesses?
1) The profusion of options for educational opportunities and social activities - it can be difficult to juggle it all.
2) The use of the outdated, ineffective, and toxic school model for education in the home. Kids don't resist learning - they resist schooling. Successful homeschoolers quickly liberate themselves from mind-numbing schoolish agenda to embrace a lifestyle of learning through real, hands-on experiences in their community.
What is the best way to get started in the home schooling arena?
Get connected with a homeschool organization where you live. These volunteer-run organizations provide accurate information on the legal ways to homeschool in your area, and offer support, resources, and encouragement. They also help connect you with other homeschoolers in your community. For a Directory of State Homeschool Organizations throughout the U.S. visit:
Could you name some of the business opportunities that people might find in the homeschooling industry?
I'm going to answer this question two ways: first, by
identifying how homeschoolers create business opportunities
themselves;, and second, by identifying some businesses that
cater to homeschoolers.
Any kind of home-based business presents a real learning
opportunity for homeschooled children. I know many
homeschoolers who have tried their wings as entrepreneurs.
Many times, the whole family gets in on the act from trying
something as simple as a lemonade stand, to critter sitting or
house sitting, to more complex multi-level marketing
Homeschool parents may see a void that needs filling and offer
a solution that results in a business. Homeschoolers are
generally tech-savvy and many offer internet-based businesses.
There are lots of homeschool writers and authors as evidenced
by the proliferation of books, ebooks, zines, blogs, etc. Here
are some companies run by homeschool families that may offer
*A to Z Home's Cool http://homeschooling.gomilpitas.com - This
ad-supported website offers lots of free info and resources.
*BlueStocking Press http://www.bluestockingpress.com -
Publishes "Uncle Eric" books on government and economics.
*Excellence In Education www.excellenceineducation.com -
Maintains a brick and mortar educational supply store with
ingenious educational games, etc., and also sells products
online. The proprietors also run a Private School Satellite
Program for homeschool families in California.
*Family Learning Organization www.familylearning.org - Offers
testing services and other educational products.
*Homeschool.com (http://www.Homeschool.com)- An ad-supported
website that offers some free resources and free teleclasses,
and also sells homeschool home study courses, books, and
*HowToTeachScience.com www.howtoteachscience.com - A website
that offers some free science resources but also sells ebooks
and science courses.
*Learning Success Institute www.learningsuccessinstitute.com -
Offers in-person and online coaching programs to teachers and
parent-educators, along with books and other learning
products. They also offer a Private School Satellite Program
that enrolls homeschool students in California.
*Rethinking Education http://www.rethinkingeducation.net/- An
annual conference on alternative education with many speakers,
workshops, and vendors that takes place in Texas.
*The Link National Homeschool Magazine
http://www.homeschoolnewslink.com - Publishes a national
homeschool magazine with articles on every aspect of home
Some industries that find a lucrative market among
*Curriculum Publishers and Suppliers - including online
delivery and tutoring such as K12.com www.k12.com, Laurel
Springs School www.laurelsprings.com, Calvert School
www.calvertschool.org, Oak Meadow School www.oakmeadow.com,
Time4Learning.com www.time4learning.com, Stanford University's
Education Program for Gifted Youth
http://epgy.stanford.edu/ohs/index.html, etc. There are also
lots of curriculum publishers in every branch of study such as
Math, Science, Language Arts, Social Sciences, Art, Music, and
*Community Educational Resources - including theater classes,
music classes, art classes, dance classes, martial arts
training, gymnastics, nature programs, science classes,
educational travel opportunities, tutoring services, etc.
The homeschool "movement" has been facing a lot of challenges in recent years. What are your thoughts on these issues?
To my knowledge, the homeschool movement hasn't faced "a lot" of challenges in recent years. There have been a handful of incidents that have potentially threatened the legality of homeschooling in various places, such as a misguided ruling by an Appellate Court in California in 2008. In every instance that I am aware of, homeschool advocates and organizations have united to successfully squelch attempts to introduce restrictive legislation, etc. Homeschooling is thriving. In fact, it's the fastest growing educational alternative in the country today.
Tell us about Homefires (mission, desires, no of employees,etc)
Homefires' mission is to liberate families from conventional schooling so they can live extraordinary lives. Homefires' intent is to kindle a life-long love of learning in everyone who visits the website. Homefires has no employees. It is owned and operated by me. I rely on an incredible network of fantastic homeschool parent-volunteers and a team of virtual assistants to provide the support and resources we offer.
Why did you start Homefires?
I started Homefires to network with other homeschool parents, and to develop and share information and resources to support homeschool families.
What is next for Diane Flynn Keith and Homefires?
I am in the process of developing an online coaching programfor homeschoolers, live events about alternatives in education- especially for teens (and not just homeschooled teens), anda series of e-books on learning through cooking for youngchildren ages 3-7. I am also writing my New York Times BestSeller - the title is a secret.
Diane Flynn Keith publishes the rave-reviewed Homefires Ezine. If you're ready to save time and money, ease your anxiety, and learn how to have fun homeschooling, get your FREE subscription now at