The School of Chocolate

The School of Chocolate started a few weeks after we moved to Israel.
It started pretty simply, before any of our things that we shipped here had arrived. We were looking for something to do and since he had become aware of other kids his age going to some mysterious place called preschool, we decided to play school one day. We wrote down 5 or 6 subjects on a paper and improvised what to do with each subject from there. One of the things on our list was "snack time". We decided on chocolate milk. I was having such a fabulous time that I splurged and threw in a few M&M's. We giggled together over how much we loooooooove chocolate, how much fun we were having playing school, and there we christened The School of Chocolate.
For a couple of weeks, he wanted to play The School of Chocolate every waking hour. It felt a little backward at the times I had to tell him no to playing school. He has mellowed out about it, but half a year later he is still really, really into it.
Half a year ago
Today. Still going strong!

It has become one of the staples in our life together and something that makes this phase of my life wonderful. It has been such a fun way for us to interact and bond. It also somewhat diminishes those nagging feelings I can get over the fun he misses out on in real preschool.
It has advanced from it's roots of scrap paper and borrowed toys. We have long since moved in, gotten all sorts of supplies, toys, and games. But the heart of it has remained the same - it is a game. And we keep it very simple - we write up several subject ideas and improvise from there. Everything is games and play and what he is interested in that day, that moment. I try to involve Ella in parts, and Michael loves getting to teach her. I have Pintrest-worthy ideas sometimes, but it doesn't matter if I don't. We've explored multitudes of ways to have a treasure hunt, every variation on hop-scotch, and scouted every random thing there is to notice on the walk around our block.
Many times, he will ask me to play The School of Chocolate, and then rattle off a detailed, numbered list of all the subjects he wants to do.
Of course it always involves something chocolate with our snack or lunch.
Sometimes we are busy with other things and we roll through 6 periods of school in 15 minutes. Other days we play for hours and might turn a regular old park trip into "P.E.".
It always starts with him as the teacher, blowing the slide whistle and calling, as if to a big crowd, "Children, come in, The School of Chocolate is about to begin!" I come in and he tells me the first subject. He usually hands the teacher role to me after that.  
He likes to blow a whistle in between subjects, too.
When we drift away from what we were doing with "school", he'll often ask me "mommy, are you still the teacher?" I'll ask him whether he wants me to be or not. He almost always says yes. Many times this happens right before naps, so the teacher sings his Little Monkey Michael nap-time song and kisses him to sleep.
Sometimes even when we aren't playing, Ella likes to call me "teacher-mommy".
Today we didn't have any plans, so we had a full blown School of Chocolate day. It was particularly fun and ideal today (in the not-overly-perfect sort of way). As I tucked Michael into bed tonight, he asked me what we are going to do tomorrow. I revealed the exciting news "go to the Super Park. Does that sound like fun?" (It is an AMAZING park with slides three stories high and zip-lines and the works.) He paused and replied, "no, not really". Surprised at his replied, I wondered why not, and he replied that he really just wanted to play School of Chocolate again tomorrow.
Love of my life. May he never grow up and leave me for real school!

AJ Candrian  – (6:12 PM)  

Lorena, this is really awesome. I'm impressed. No wonder your kids are so smart. You work with them so intensely every day and make it fun. I love observing what all my siblings/in-laws do to raise their kids, and garner insight for my own family one day. I love this idea. It's one thing to sit down and try to have a lesson, but another entirely to turn it into a game that they constantly crave. Well done.

Mike and Joy  – (2:22 PM)  

I love this, such a good mom to my grandchildren. His grandfather asked last night if we have a dry and erase board because he thinks he'll need one when your children come to visit. Since he doesn't read comments, I'm thinking tonight after work, I may have to buy him one & surprise him. Sounds like I need to make sure I have chocolate too. I want to play School of Chocolate!

Brittany  – (7:26 PM)  

This is the cutest story! We do pre-school here but yours sounds much more fun. You can't go wrong with chocolate!

Sara  – (9:32 PM)  

love this! you rock. :)

Staloch Family  – (8:39 PM)  

So cute! I love your updates!!!

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