A couple weeks ago I had these two girls sitting at the bar at my house. (Claire and her cute cousin.)

I overheard them deep in a conversation. It was all about Joy School (a co-op preschool my parents came up with years and years ago where the Moms get to be the teachers…these two did it together a while back).

Their discussion came from completely out of the blue. Just something to talk about over their delicious meal of peanut butter sandwiches.

One of them said, “Remember the Gunny Bag?”

The other giggled and reminded the first about when they got to really eat Green Eggs & Ham.

And then they started talking about popping popcorn in an air popper without a lid on and how funny it was, Joy Boy, and the song called “I’m a Mean Old Witch with a Hat.”

And you know what? That little snippet of conversation made me so nostalgic.

I love that these girls did Joy School years ago, and that they still remember all these details, with big smiles stretched across their faces.

Joy School is one of my very favorite things to do with my kids. If you don’t know what it is, click here. I’ve done it with each of my four older kids, and without being too dramatic, I must say that it changed me…it changed them. It bonded us together. It helped me figure out how to really teach…and them how to really learn. And it helped us fall in love with each other even deeper. It helped me create strong bonds with other wonderful mothers. It helped them make great friends and develop socially.

This little discussion I overheard made me realize I need to kick into gear and figure out a way to do Joy School with Lucy amidst her other special needs preschool activities.

Because neither of us can miss out on that Joy School experience.

I’m so thankful for Joy School. (Thanks for another great thing that has blessed my life, and the lives of so many others, Mom and Dad!)


  1. Shawni… I have really loved reading about Joy school on your parents website. This is such a fabulous idea…I'm wondering if you can still teach Joy school even if you can't find other moms to get involved with?

  2. i love joy school! i haven't done it for a long time, but i find myself singing, "oh boy, i've got joy" with my new babies.

  3. haha- I did Joy School as a kid, and I just finished with my oldest daughter. Oh the gunny sack….I didn't know that one of our little girls has a hysterical-screaming-phobia about timers. So when I set the timer with a grin, and promised to come back with a hungry bag…when I came back I found my daughter crying and rubbing her head (she'd tried to dive under the bed), a little friend sobbing hysterically in the corner, and 2 other girls looking dazed and trying to figure out what was going on. We didn't invite Gunny Sack back to Joy School the next day 😉

  4. Hello! I just happened upon your blog about a year ago and have enjoyed reading about your family. I especially appreciate your "realness!" On a more shallow note…I have admired your wrist watch for a while now! It's really neat looking! Would you consider telling me the make or designer???

    Take care and thanks!
    Sally P. in Alabama

  5. sounds like a lovely idea for kids…so jealous..wish they had one her in Australia! love your blog and the kids are too cute!

  6. Joy School! What a great idea that was and is. I did Joy School with our second daughter, Hollie, and a few neighbor kids. She is 17 now, and I still remember that as a special time for her (and me).

  7. I loved doing Joy School with my 2 oldest. Two of my kids missed it because there was zero interest from people here 🙁 (Hard to do a co-op alone…) I hope my youngest can enjoy it.

    We sing Grey Squirrel almost every day! The Gunny bag gave my oldest son nightmares for weeks. poor kid. lol.

  8. "Oh boy! Ive got joy. I do. Do you?" Shawni, Ive been reading your blog for a while now and had to comment on this post! I did joy school as a child and loved it. I love the simple messages it taught me and I already sing the cute songs with my little boy. Thank you for your fun posts. It makes me so excited to watch my baby and future kids 🙂 grow up!

  9. I am so grateful to your parents for providing Joy School materials so that I could create such wonderful memories with my six children. I taught all six of them–four of them for two years. And we have great memories of doing TCR as a family as well. Your parents were true mentors for me with my parenting and with so much more!

  10. I loved teaching joy school! Amberly (who's now going into 2nd grade) still wishes I was her teacher. Man…I must have been good! (wink)

  11. So fun to see this Shawni! We're back into Joy School season in another month! It's so fun to have it online now because it can be used by anyone so easily. It was just an idea from heaven that fell into our laps (with the help of a lot of other people).

  12. I have heard so many good things about it! Its something I've always heard people talk about but have never done. I would love to do it with Emma, so if you do it and are in need of more group members we would love to join you!

  13. I am an "old" joy school mom. My oldest son is 30 and I did years and years and years of joy school. I started groups in Utah, Colorado and Arizona and love, love, love it! I feel like I know you because your parents referred to you and your siblings often. My favorite video of all time is of my third son (now 26) standing by the piano singing "My Mommy and Daddy wanted me". I'm even thinking of starting a grandma joy school for my grandchildren!

  14. Hi Shawni,

    I know this is an old post, but it came up on a google search because a couple of people asked the same question I had in your comments section…though I didn't see an answer. Is it possible to do the joy school curriculum on my own with my kids if I can't find other moms to do it with me?


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