Playing school was one of my favorite games – especially before I started school (I was unschooled until I was seven years old, back before unschooling was popular). We had a huge, classroom-sized chalkboard in our bedroom in the first house I lived in, and my siblings and I spent many happy hours playing school and drawing on it. My kids don’t have the wall space for that kind of a board, but they have made great use of this simple easel from IKEA!
My kids enjoyed playing with a school bag full of interesting learning activities before they started school, and pretend school continues to be a favorite game for them, even though they go to real school for hours every day. They design learning games, process disciplinary issues that come up in their real classrooms, and reinforce new skills by teaching them to teach other! Even their toys get educated – here are two classrooms, inhabited by a diverse population made up of Littlest Pet Shop animals, squinkies, and cars.
My brother and I essentially taught ourselves to read by playing school with phonics tapes and worksheets my mom supplied, and Emma and Johnny have done the same. My kids have always had handwriting worksheets available, and – so far – they have effortlessly developed good handwriting.
Not every kid will teach themselves handwriting, and my kids have their own things that are hard for them – learning to ride bikes and other gross motor skills, for example. So we focus our family time on the things they need more support to learn, and leave them on their own to continue to hone their strengths!
Do your kids play school? What kinds of learning come easily to them, and what skills have you had to work on more as a family? Did you enjoy playing school as a child?