Written by Sanae Shea

Hate doesn’t begin to describe how I feel about homework. I could never ever in a million years home school. I lack that gene! Homework is painful for everyone involved including anyone within earshot. Our sessions usually end in tears all around including my own! It’s an even bigger challenge in the summer. I know it is important to keep their minds sharp. And I always start with the best intentions. I really do. But it never fails. At the end of each summer I find myself sorting through last years backpacks stumbling upon summer workbooks and reading materials sent home by last year’s teachers. Oops! Is it too late to log reading minutes two days before school starts?!

This year I’m on top of it. My goal is to make sure my son begins his 4th grade year without suffering from the Summer Slump!


Coffee Table Sight Word Challenge – Over the years I’ve spent countless hours reviewing sight words with my kids. It is typically a painful process, especially if you have a child who struggles in school. So my goal was to turn it into a summer challenge. I also knew I needed to keep the activity top of mind or we (I) would continuously put it on the backburner. So this is what I came up with and it’s been a big hit since the moment I set it up.


I typed last year’s sight words provided by the school district including words from the next two grade levels. I cut them into strips and placed them inside a decorative container. I also used a smaller bottle with a cork top.

How it works:

Throughout the day while my son is hanging out in the living room or simply passing through, he can grab a word(s) from the vase. If he is able to read the word without hesitation, he stuffs it into the bottle with the cork. If he stumbles on the word, it goes back into the container. Once all the words are transferred to the bottle, he will earn a big reward. The only rule is that he can only pull words when someone else is around so they can verify his accuracy. The beauty of this activity….the whole family gets to help him learn sight words, not just mom!!


Charlie grabs a word on his way to baseball. When he reads a word correctly, part of the fun is popping the cork and stuffing the bottle. Once he starts, he almost doesn’t want to stop. I was a little worried I was going to run out of words the very first day!


The other big change I made this year was to hire a summer tutor. My son goes to her house for one hour once or twice a week to work on reading and math. If this is an expense you are willing and able to take on, I highly recommend it. Although on some days I have to practically drag him there, I know he works hard for her once they get started. She can accomplish in one hour what takes hours of torture at home.

What do you do to keep your kids sharp in the summer?

Sanae Shea

Sanae Shea is a girly girl living in a house full of men…1 husband, 3 sons and new puppy named Ted. When she’s not busy with her boys, you’ll find her teaching Zumba Fitness classes at several locations throughout Kearney. She is also a skin care consultant for RX Skin Therapy at USave Pharmacy in Kearney. Learn more about Sanae at www.zumbawithsanae.com.