Lifestyle of Learning: Homeschooling an Only, Morning Basket Fun, and Gameschooling (an interview with Jessica Waldock)

Jessica Waldock homeschool Interview

Jessica Waldock is a homeschooling mom of 1 quirky, creative kid. They pursue a lifestyle of learning filled with Morning Basket fun, gameschooling, and relaxed, interest-led homeschooling. This is a fun conversation you will be sure to enjoy whether you’re homeschooling one or a dozen! (Plus, hear my secret homeschool mom confession!)

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Jessica Waldock homeschool Interview

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Who is Jessica Waldock?

Jessica Waldock is a recovering type-a, writer, photographer, and homeschool advocate. She is passionate about books, games, checklists, and all things Disney. She is the founder of the popular blog The Waldock Way and author of best selling curricula such as Passport to Adventures and Waldock’s Wizards and Wands. She lives in Florida with her amazingly talented husband and super creative daughter. No day is ever the same, and she wouldn’t have it any other way. 

Watch my interview with Jessica Waldock

Show Notes {with video time stamps}

Homeschooling = living life together {1:19}

Jessica had a very difficult pregnancy, and she just wasn’t ready to let go when the time came for preschool to begin. Not only that, but they lived so far away from the preschool it didn’t make sense to drive all that way.

It was just ABC and 123… surely it would be ok to do preschool at home!

But the lifestyle the Waldock family has experienced through homeschooling is now something they wouldn’t want to give up!

Jessica Waldock homeschool Interview

You just do life together,” as Jessica described it.

Initially, Jessica bought little desks and set up her room for what she thought traditional school would look like. Slowly they moved away from the desk to a more relaxed lifestyle of learning.

“It weaves into every part of our life,” Jessica explains.

Jessica really enjoys their family’s unit study, interest-led approach to learning.

Interest-led learning {4:45}

When Emily was still very young, she asked if they could do “Jack and Annie school,” adventures inspired by The Magic Treehouse series. And so Passport to Adventures was born!

“The majority of the things I have for sale have been Emily-led,” Jessica explained. She has taken Emily’s interests and created unit studies that all families can enjoy!

Passport to Adventures

Emily loves animals and wants to be a vet, so the Waldock family watches a lot of animal documentaries. She also takes animal-themed studies on Outschool.

Sometimes, interest-led learning looks like Mom leading her child by the hand and helping them discover new interests. Other times? It’s like the child is dragging Mom full-force into something they’re passionate about!

Even as a classical educator, I find ways to weave my children’s interests into our homeschool days.

Jessica agreed: “You don’t have to be a relaxed homeschooler to still follow your child’s interest.”

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Jessica Waldock homeschool Interview

Homeschooling an Only Child {10:21}

One of my favorite things about homeschooling an only child is the time we get to spend together,” Jessica said. Homeschooling an only also means it’s easier to pursue your child’s fluctuating interests, she added. “When you only have one, it’s really easy to do interest-led [learning].”

Jessica Waldock homeschool Interview

There are a few challenges to homeschooling an only child:

  • Stigma in the homeschool community
  • Guilt
  • No alone time

Jessica has found one way to combat the no-alone-time challenge is to take lunch time apart. Sometimes it looks like setting up a documentary, or finding some other way to take a break from each other in the middle of the day. This has really helped their afternoons go more smoothly!

“You can totally homeschool an only!” Jessica encouraged.

Gameschooling {14:35}

Jessica will never let me live down the time I admitted to her I don’t particularly like to play games. 😉 Ha! (Am I the only one?) But, my own personal preferences aside, I see so much value in playing games with my children! Not only is it a wonderful way to build relationships, but there’s so much sneaky learning going on. (Plus, memory games can help build our children’s memorization skills – something I am passionate about!)

Gameschooling has become an important part of the Waldock family lifestyle of learning.

Some of Jessica’s fondest childhood memories relate to games. So even though she didn’t grow up playing games all the time, they are important parts of her family memories and relationships.

When she and her husband got married, they would play games together like Yahtzee and Uno as a way to spend time together.

When Emily was 4 or 5, she learned how to play Yahtzee and it became something the whole family could play together.

One holiday season, they took an extended break from official homeschooling. When they came back to regular school in January, Emily’s grasp of math facts had blossomed… and it came from playing Yahtzee several times a week! This changed Jessica’s mindset: “I saw the value in games and I knew it was something I wanted in our homeschool.”

Jessica encouraged moms to visit Cait from My Little Poppies if you’re just getting started with gameschooling. Jessica also is creating a top-15 game post for each age level.

There are also single player games if you aren’t able to play every time with your child. But…

Sometimes you might just have to suck it up and play a game,” Jessica grinned at me.

Our family enjoys playing cooperative games. Here are a few of our favorites

Morning Time with an Only Child {22:10}

For a long time, Jessica thought she couldn’t do Morning Time with an only child. Looking at it online, it seemed like it was just the time to do the all-together subjects…and everything was an all-together subject in their family.

“We tweaked, and really what it first started out as for us was for me having a place to put all the things I wanted to do when I wasn’t awake, because I’m not a morning person!” Jessica started with a stack of a few books, and it really wasn’t more thought out than that.

It has slowly grown over time. They now do themed Morning Baskets in their homeschool. Emily is a quirky, intense kid who thrives on deep dives. They pick one topic and put everything they need for that topic in their basket. This sometimes looks like books, MadLibs, trivia, games, and more.

Morning Time Morning Basket Homeschool

“It helps me check off that homeschool box,” Jessica added. “Even if that’s the only thing we get done, I can feel accomplished as a homeschool mom.”

Join Jessica’s Morning Basket group on Facebook to see all the different ways Morning Time can be done!

Want a MARVEL-ously SUPER Summer? Check out what Emily requested for her summer Morning Basket!

Morning Time Morning Basket Homeschool Pam Barnhill interview
You may also enjoy my conversation with Pam Barnhill from Your Morning Basket!

Find Jessica Waldock online

Here’s my burning question: how do YOU feel about games, Mama?

Check out all the other interviews in my Homeschool Conversations series!

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