Sunday, September 23, 2012

Playing School

One of the girls' favorite things to do together is to play school.  This is a somewhat secretive activity, conducted behind closed doors in Katherine's room.   I don't know what exactly goes on there, but I hear things.  Sometimes rather funny things.  I know that 95% of the time Katherine is the teacher.  (Once in a while Rachel pitches a fit and refuses to play unless she can be the boss!)  I know that they have imaginary classmates, who are referred to often by name.  Some of them are quite naughty.  I know they go to recess and have imaginary field trips.  I know there is a fair amount of homework.  And I know that this school is very real in their minds.

When Katherine was little, I spent hours sitting at the table with her working on letters and numbers and writing.  We made art projects.  We did worksheets left over from my classroom.  Katherine loved this and most of the time I did, too.  But when Rachel came home, I was tired.  And less patient.  And not very enthusiastic.  And Rachel wasn't exactly a sit-and-do-workbooks-quietly kind of kid.  Like mothers of second children everywhere, I felt a little guilty about this.  But then I realized that Rachel knew her letters and numbers and everything else, even though I had not taught her.  Katherine had.  So I let go of the guilt and turned Rae's academic life over to her teachers at school and to her big sister.  It's worked out quite well.  Rachel is happy to sit and work with Katherine and Kate is delighted to teach.  I occasionally suggest to Kate that she work on some skill with Rachel and it is immediately taken care of.  (In May, I mentioned that Rachel needed to work on writing her name over the summer.  Two days later, Rachel was happily printing her name perfectly, except for an excess of arms on the E.)

Rachel likes playing school and Katherine loves it.  She's always looking for an opportunity to be in charge and playing school is an excellent chance.  She's kind of a bossy teacher, but she is thorough.  And she takes it very seriously.  This fall I realized that not only was she teaching Rachel, she was actually making lesson plans!  And she was making her own worksheets and art projects.  And boy, are they amazing!  Here is a sample:
These worksheets awe me with their creativity.  And it's clear that Teacher Kate is pretty strict - I wouldn't dream of talking Rachel into doing all of this.  But Kate does give lovely rewards.  And she makes sweet art projects.

I guess being surrounded by teachers tends to rub off on you.  I hope that the enthusiasm for playing school continues for years to come.  I'd happily let Katherine teach Rachel the times tables and how to diagram sentences and certainly how to divide fractions.  And I think Kate just might to a better job of it than I would.  But for now, I'll just eavesdrop on the classroom in the bedroom and see what's the lesson for today.

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