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School Work For Cora

Cora wants to be exactly like her big
sister Maddie in every way, and dreams of the day she can go to
school, just like Maddie. Madeleine has explained to Cora that one
can’t go to school until one is potty-trained, which is not
exactly true, but is sort of what I led Maddie to believe in the
midst of our potty-training throes. Regardless, though, I’ve
no intention of placing Cora in school right now – especially
since my money would probably be wasted and I’d be picking
Cora up the minute she realized Mommy’s not allowed to stay
in school with her.

But Cora still wants to be like Maddie and do some sort of school,
so on the days Maddie goes to her preschool class, Cora does
schoolwork at home.

And before you think I’m some sort
of superhero homeschooling Mom who has her daughter speaking French
before age 3, let me tell you mais non. Cora’s schoolwork is
pretty much the same sort of stuff we’d be doing any other
time, but dressed up and made to seem special. I’m the queen
of public relations with the toddler set, and can spin cleaning up
a room into the Skill-Building Reverse-Hide-And-Seek Challenge.

Usually Cora’s schoolwork involves some sort of collection of
stickers and sheets of paper. I collect the stickers when
she’s not around, buying Sesame Street sticker books at
half-price bookstores or sheets of two hundred miscellaneous at
dollar stores and keep them in storage until it’s
“school time”. Sometimes I’ll throw a roll of
butcher paper across our coffee table and tell her to re-decorate
the table top; sometimes she’ll sit at a small desk next to
mine in the office and make sticker memos while I get work done;
sometimes I’ll give her animal stickers and have her make a
picture of a zoo while I cook. You get the picture.

It’s not all sticker work at Cora’s school, though, so
don’t worry. We’ve done our share of crafts with foam
sheets and cut-out pieces, and of course sometimes fall back on
Cora’s bag-o-crayons and some “special” coloring
sheets. And then, of course, there are the big crafts: Cora and I
are planning on making bird feeders with peanut butter and pine
cones next week, and in the past have made other big items as well.

There is, of course, more to learning than just arts and crafts,
and we cover all the basics. There’s Recess, when we walk to
the neighborhood playground, there’s Group Activity, when we
play games like Duck Duck Goose or do puzzles, we of course have
Lab time in the kitchen and Reading time snuggled up with a stack
of books, and then there are the Helper of the Day jobs, like
sweeping or cleaning countertops. Yeah, I really do it and call it
school. Sue me.

I don’t do all this every time, of course: I strive for one
school activity every time Maddie’s away, just to make Cora
feel as if she’s accomplished something. And sometimes
I’m too tired to think of anything and say
“Today’s schoolwork is going to be a big surprise
– wait and see!” On such days, we’ve had Discover
the Animal Kingdom (holding Kitty sullenly on our lap and
discussing her fur and paws while petting her), Gardening time when
Cora waters the plants in the side yard, and even Rest time, which
is exactly what you think.

Cora’s all-time favorite school activity, though, is Play-Doh
time. I keep a huge tub of Play-Doh accessories in our garage and
bring it out fairly infrequently, so when I announce that
schoolwork for the day is Play-Doh, Cora usually loses control and
jumps up and down and screams hysterically. She’ll easily
spend half an hour solid on Play-Doh fun, and if I spread her out
at the breakfast counter I can get a fair amount of work done in
the kitchen with only minimal interruptions to load the
octopus’ head with more blue goo or find the dough roller.
When “school” is over, she’ll spend the rest of
the day telling everyone she got to do Play-Doh at school that day
and it was “so exciting!”

I know it’s not the Cyrillic alphabet or square roots of
prime numbers, but it keeps her happy and engages us in something
fun without too much stress. And since Cora’s only two,
that’s really what I’m aiming for.


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