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School got thrown off today by two separate power outages. There are no windows in our kitchen, the only place we can do school, so it was too dark to get anything done. The kids are not complaining about things shaking up today; they happily built with Legos while the power was out, and moved out to the kitchen table for drawing time once it came back on. Joy is doing still lifes, and having a hard time not embellishing the pictures from her imagination (which is great for many things, but it’s also wonderful for her to learn the discipline which accompanies certain types of art forms), and I am encouraging Grace to draw things other than fairies.

Gracie’s loose tooth is on the verge of falling out, which is also causing great excitement amongst us all. She really wants it to fall out before bed tonight, so she can get a visit from the tooth fairy sooner rather than later.

So far we have spent half an hour every schoolday morning outside on the playground, before we even sit down to do anything else. My hope is that it helps us stay healthy as cooler weather moves in (theoretically – yesterday was hotter than almost any day in August), as well as helping the girls to focus better when we do get to sit-down school. Not to mention how important it is for them to be active, of course.

They really "flip" over the monkey bars.

They really “flip” over the monkey bars.

I haven’t seen any noticeable improvements in their attitudes about sit-down schoolwork yet (yesterday Joy complained and sulked her way through the last third, I think because Grace finished up first and Joy wanted to go play with her instead of having to finish her own work), but it is helping us be more prompt about breakfast and morning chores – it’s a lot easier to stop dawdling when you know you’ve got the playground awaiting you. And I suspect bad attitudes would be more prevalent if we didn’t have that outside time each morning.

Joy is still enthusiastic about her math, and remembering much more about social than she did last year, and while she whined about the science reading and writing, I caught her pulling out our other human body encyclopedia after school yesterday to learn more about the day’s subject on her own. (I pretended not to notice or find this interesting at all.)

Grace’s reading skills are slowly but surely improving, as is her handwriting. We started doing dictation words yesterday, where I read a word aloud and she wrote it down, and that seems to be hugely helpful for her reading skills, the act of writing the word instead of just seeing it. Her math is still really easy and basic, but unlike a lot of homeschool moms I know, I’m not going to skip ahead. My personal opinion is that the more grounded you are in the absolute basics, the easier it will all be later on. Considering how deeply I struggled with math later on because I just blithely did the problems in kindergarten and first grade without ever understanding the basic concepts, I feel very strongly about laying a solid groundwork for both girls (hence the going back to the start of the math book with Joy once I realized she was faking her way through). We’re also having some fun with Eric Carle’s “Animals, Animals,” where I read a poem out loud and she draws a picture to go with it, and we are calling that both science and art. I’ve started working with her on being able to write her own name, and memorize our phone number and address as the first part of her “social studies.”

I know to be “proper” classical homeschoolers, I should be making the kids memorize more poems and verses, and narrate their lessons back to me, and reading aloud more. But right now, we’re doing what we can, and not pushing ourselves (mostly me) beyond what we can handle.

So far, aside from weird days we have to take off because of power outages, so good.