Finding Joy in the Everyday of Homeschooling

Summary:  How we homeschooled our twice exceptional/gifted daughter and found joy in the everyday experiences.  Using some ideas from waldorf-inspired homeschooling.  Baking, hand arts and other activities helped develop good task skills.

Before I became a homeschooling mom, I worked in OT and as a preschool teacher.  I loved working with the little ones and became familiar with the different styles of teaching preschool.  One of them that caught my attention was the Waldorf method.  I liked how they focused on meeting the child where ever they were at, developmentally, heart, head and hands.  That was one of their slogans.

 Are you familiar with Waldorf schools?  And how they focus on having the kids do a lot of handwork at certain ages, along with a lot of other creative approaches?

Little did I know that having learned about the Waldorf method would help me a few years later, when we adopted our 2e daughter, and began homeschooling her.   That led to a lot of of our happiest times in our homeschooling.

Our little one was all hands-on, always wanting to make things, and some of the ideas from the Waldorf method just fit her to a "T".  Especially when she was young.

Today I want to share some of my favorite memories of homeschooling our daughter, starting with around age 5.  At that age, my child was all about imitating me, you know, wanting to "help" me cook, clean things, and all sorts of domestic things.


In Waldorf kindergarten, the classrooms are set up to be like a home environment.  And the kids are encouraged to participate in home-like tasks together, as that is the time of imitation, developmentally.  So much of our K years was all about that....  When I cooked, we cooked.  We set up a rhythm for our week, such as Monday was shopping day, Tuesday was baking day, etc.  When it came to laundry day, we were busy folding towels.  And that was then time for early math.

Early math?  lEarly math is all about counting, sorting, classifying things.  So we enjoyed making the towels into sets.  The big ones here, the small ones there.  Do you know that doing the laundry together was one of my favorite things to do in our early homeschool?


Below is a picture of one of our baking days.  I loved how my daughter decided to make the cookies into her favorite shape - that of a penguin.  Do you see it there?

Little ones learn so much from imitation.
Penguins became a theme of hers for quite a few years.  SO when it came time, later, in early elementary, she was all about researching and writing about penguins.  We used Oak Meadow curriculum a lot.  But when it came time to write on a certain subject, I always let her sub in her favorite topic.  So at our house there were LOTS and LOTS of essays and research papers done on penguins, or rats, that was popular one year, too.


Another very happy time in our homeschool was when we did handwork, or hand arts together.

Taking that idea from Waldorf, I intoduced her to various handwork projects, one at a time. In first grade we knitted, in second grade it was hand sewing.  Doing handwork became one of our regular things to do, fitting it into our "rhythm", or our daily routine.  Each Thursday morning, we spent doing handwork together.  Then another year, it was all about weaving.

My daughter had some attentional issues.  She was not formally diagnosed as ADHD, but boy did she improve her attention and organizational skills through working on these hand work projects!  And later these skills transferred to her academics.  


My daughter began asking for cardboard and tape to make things, starting as almost a toddler.  So we were always going out to the drug store for more tape.  One year, after going to a fair, she came home and made this.....

So many projects, always running out of cardboard and tape.

There were houses made for our cat, cars made for driving in, and I really can't remember all the fun creative things that she made as a kid.  But it was so fun to watch her explorations and they were very important to her development.  Making things was one way that she used to express herself.


Then there was the year of the stamp.  My daughter got some stamps from a pen pal, and wanted to start a collection.  So we researched online and found the supplies necessary together.  Then she went about ordering stamps with a little help, and spent countless hours organizing them.  Later she put them into a notebook.  Of course it was great for her geography studies too.  

I was most pleased that she was wanting to do this type of project, as it also led to improved organizational skills, attention to detail, etc.  


In about 4th grade, I asked my daughter to come up with an "annual project".  We kicked around ideas for awhile.  Then she came up with the ideas of making a puppet show.  This became a fun month or so long project.  I asked her to make everything, the puppets that she needed, a script, a puppet stage, etc.

The focus was on doing it herself, not on the end product.  With encouragement and a little guidance, she came up with this puppet show which, of course, was about penguins.  The joy of watching her do this project is still very clear to me.  I can still feel the excitement that she had, presenting her puppet show. 

She was quite shy when presenting it, just to her audience of her dad and me.  But by the time she finished, she had this big smile on her face.  Little did I know then, that public speaking would be something that she would want to do A LOT of as a young adult.  (She just did a colloquium, presenting her research project. And she liked doing it.)


The next year we found out about a local contest for kids, 4th - 10th grades, that was sponsored by our local Puyallup Spring Fair.  It was called the Creative Kids Contest.  Kiddos entered it from all over the Puget Sound region.  When I introduced the idea to my child, she was ready to jump in.  And she continued with it through 10 grade.

My daughter showing one of her early drawings.

Creative Kids Contest was kind of like 4H.  Kids could enter in lots of categories---animals, baking, but also photography, essay writing, short stories, drawing, painting, etc.

Each year I showed her their list, and she chose from that as to what she wanted to enter.  She enjoyed the competition aspect.  And one year they had, of all things, a knitting contest.  It was for speed-knitting. Really!  This was her first in-person competition.  And that led to her first public speaking opportunity, reading her poem aloud at the fair.


The wonderful thing about this was that she got feedback on her work, from the Creative Kids retired teacher volunteers.  Boy did that make a mark with my daughter!  Having outside validation was priceless to her.  Knowing mom and dad thought she was doing great in her work, well, that just didn't pass muster!  Now she had the real deal evaluating her work.  It was such a joy to listen to her proudly read aloud the feedback that she got on her essay, her photo, her poem.


I enjoyed picked a few of my favorite memories to share with you today, which was SO hard to do.  I have tons of good memories of our homeschooling time together.  Not that we didn't have our struggles, too.  But the good memories have SO outweighed the difficulties.  And now I get to watch my daughter take on college, which is such a joy.  This fall she will be a senior, studying Communications, with a minor in Political Science.

I helped my 2e daughter get accepted by each of the college on her list, including a tier two U, with scholarship offers. I wrote about how we did that, in my book called: Homeschooling High School with College in Mind   and it is on Kindle -AmazonPaperback -Amazon

"For parents new to homeschooling, this book is full of ideas, examples, and helpful advice. Since homeschooling is about having choices, we like that the author highlights how her family made their decisions and sorted through their options every year.  She even shows readers how elective courses for high school credit can be built around family interests. My mom said this book helped her visualize what a long-range homeschooling plan could look like, and it’s the perfect size to tuck into an 8 1/2x11” calendar/planner so we have one place to check for answers to any questions we might have from time to time. I would recommend this book to any homeschool student and parent."  Lit Pick Review

Today, I am joining in with our Gifted Homeschooling Forum Blog Hop on the Happiest Homeschooling Moments.  

To reach all the other great posts, please click here.

Thanks for stopping by BJ's Homeschool,


Betsy is mom to her now college grad, whom she homeschooled from preK through high school.  She blogs at BJ's Homeschool, about the early yearshigh school & college and wrote - Homeschooling High School with College in Mind.   She offers free homeschool help through messages at BJ's Consulting

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  1. Wow! So many happy memories and reading about them warmed my heart. Thank you for sharing!

    1. Thank you, Julie. I wasn't sure what I would write about at first, as I was thinking that I needed to find one stand out memory. But then I just let me fingers share what they wanted to, so to speak, and it was a lot of fun to write this! SO nice of you to stop by and take time to leave your comment. Wishing you god memory making, along your way...

  2. Oh, this was so much joy to read! I loved it.Particularly as my daughter is also the crafty, arty type too.


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