Monday, September 21, 2015

Our Homeschool is "Play School"

Ms. Stegasaurus teaching Calendar Time in Play-School

Before we had decided for sure that we would homeschool, back in the summer after his first year of kindergarten when we were still weighing options (homeschool, private school, repeating KG at his current school, etc), my son asked me if we could "play school."  We set up a little classroom in front of our magnet writer board, with a Stegasaurus for a teacher and various other toys for students.  The first time we played, he was the teacher, and some of the students.  I would have the students I was playing ask him questions, pretend to struggle with answers, and I would whisper the real answer into his ear if he struggled with answering them, or have another "student" suddenly remember the answer.

  Gradually he let me be the teacher, until eventually that was my role all the time (I played as a dinosaur, or other character of course--funny voices and all).  I generally made up the lessons off the top of my head.  We had a lot of "new students" and would spell their names on a magnet board we had that worked for our school's "chalk board."   We practiced adding and counting and a little geography and even a  little science (usually learning about the habitats the "students" lived in...like the elephant on the African Savana, or the snake who's home was in the jungle).  The "students" had pretend recess and snack and went home in the larger toy cars at the "end of the day." 

It was a lot of fun...but not just fun.  I could see how my son was learning through this, and without the tears that often proceeded our daily Bob Book reading or workbook page (when he was in public school, every day started with those tears).  There were no tears over "play school"...in fact, he would ask to do it!

When we started officially homeschooling, we continued "play school,"  though at first the "regular" homeschool lessons were kept separate.  Then I discovered that lessons that he was resistant tended to go smoothly and without objection when I just let the dinosaur teach them to her "class" (all the students, in reality, being my son).  If he pretended to be one of his toys when he read his Bob Book during play-school reading time there were usually no tears.  Pretty soon we were doing almost everything as part of play-school.

Half way through the year he started asking to "play homeschool" in stead.  That warmed my heart, though it didn't last (not enough "kids" in homeschool to have the interactions between the toys that he loved, so we went back to a "public school" style play school).

Playing school didn't ALWAYS work like it did when we started.  Now, a year later, if he doesn't want to do something, just moving it to play school can't always fix it.   I know part of that is that he understands that "play school" is really just HOMESCHOOL, with some pretending mixed in.  And, I'll admit I'm sometimes less patient now with the "hi-jinks" of some of the "students" that interrupt lessons (they can be fun, but I can tell when he's just stalling).  And as much as I love imagination there are some lessons I need him to be present in, as himself, not playing pretend.  Other times I  just get burnt out on make believe. But it's still something he'll ask to do, even when we're on vacation from regular school (like our last month of summer).  That assures me this was still worth keeping as a regular part of our homeschool day.

 I know eventually he'll grow out of this phase where he loves to pretend--but I'm going to enjoy "playing school" while it lasts.


This post is linking is being shared at the Hip Homeschool Hop and the

16 comments:

  1. What a great post! I love how you're letting your son learn the way that comes naturally--and best of all, it's fun!

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    1. Yeah, I really like being able to customize things to his likes/personality. It's what I love most about homeschool!

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  2. I love this idea!! I struggle sometimes with playing pretend, BUT I could totally pretend to be a teacher, haha! And I would love for you to link up with us this week! http://branson365.blogspot.com/2015/09/merrill-homeschool-parentteachermeetup.html

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    1. Thanks so much for sharing this...I linked up!

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  3. I did the same thing with each of my kids, letting them take the lead for how it would go.

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    1. Nice to hear I'm not the only one. :-)

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  4. Wow, this is interesting! Never thought of that, I am not so good at pretend play. It is quite refreshing how you listen to your son's needs. Way to go!

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    1. Everyone has their strengths...fortunately one of my strenghts met up with my son's needs perfection. Now, my middle child, joining us for homeschool next year, is a little literalist...even when he was younger, so we'll see how that goes. I'll have to adjust a bit.

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  5. It is important to know how to "reach" each child; I'm happy that dinosaur teacher works. As annoying as it gets, cherish it. I personally am saddened when I look back and realize that a child has outgrown something that was a big part of our lives.

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    1. I do cherish it. I was a little relieved when he didn't want to do it for a while, and just as relieved when he went back to it this week.

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  6. One of my favorite things about homeschooling is that we have freedom and flexibility to do these things.

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    1. Mine too! Flexibility makes a world of difference.

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  7. Great idea. So glad you were able to recognize that your son was learning this way and incorporate it into day.

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    1. Me too. It's really made a difference.

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  8. I really enjoyed reading this post! You were able to take something natural and meaningful to your son, and use it to teach him. My four-year-old wants to play school a lot too- I never thought about incorporating that pretend play into her preschool time before. Homeschooling is really school outside the box!

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    1. Thanks so much. Yeah, if she wants to play school anyways, no reason not to try incorporating some real school in that play...as long as it still feels like play to her she'll be learning without realizing it's anything but play. :-)

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