Stephanie O'Dea: How to Stop the Summer Brain Drain

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When I was pregnant with my first (10 years ago), I informed my husband, Adam, that I "reserved the right to homeschool." He was (skeptically) agreeable, so I took it upon myself to learn as much as I could about homeschooling in case the day ever came when I felt that I could do a better job teaching the kids than our local school.

We now have three little girls: 9 1/2, 6 1/2 and 16 months. We've moved a few times since I "staked my claim" to homeschool 10 years ago, and now live in a very good school district.

So my kids go to public school (the baby is home, of course).

The children are happy and thriving. They continue to excel in class and are all naturally inquisitive and have a thirst for learning. I'm happy with a lot that the school provides, but continue to supplement at home as much as I can. I try to be "around" the school a lot, which allows me opportunity to see first-hand behavior issues, and the time wasted moving from activities or lessons. I do not think this is necessarily a bad thing–it's just something I'm very aware of. Adam says I'm keeping score. Maybe I am!

I'm greatly looking forward to having the kids home with me when school lets out. No matter how involved I am in the school, during the school year, Adam and I are not in charge. The teacher is. I wish I could say this doesn't bother me, but I'd be lying. The school calendar dominates our day-to-day life, and I'm looking forward to getting a more natural flow to our days.

I have gotten a few emails in the past week or so asking what activities I do with my children during the summer. My oldest is going to attend a two-week enrichment program (three hours a day), and my 6-year-old will attend a gymnastics class twice a week. I'll probably throw in a week of swim lessons, and we're hoping to get a sponsor for a late-summer book tour to Albuquerque, and will visit the Grand Canyon.

Otherwise, our days will be pretty loose— park trips, library visits, and play dates. The television will be turned off for the day by 10 a.m., and the kids will have free range of the art supplies, books, games, and the back yard.

Will they fight? A.B.S.O.L.U.T.E.L.Y.

Will I lose my temper (more than I should)?

Y.O.U. B.E.T.C.H.A.

Will they complain that they're bored?

W.I.T.H.O.U.T. A. D.O.U.B.T.

I can't wait.

Resources shown above, and what I use in our (closet) homeschooling curriculum:

Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons — I taught my big kids to read with this book. It's actually not shown in the above picture because I lent it to our neighbor to use with her 3-year-old. I do not use the writing exercises at all. At the end of the 100 lessons, your child will be reading on a 2nd grade level. I started just for fun at around age 3 1/2 with my girls. I followed the lessons in order, but didn't have a set time frame. If the kids wanted to sit with me and practice, we did. We would go months without even opening the book, but sometimes we'd do four lessons in a day. They each finished the book in its entirety before entering first grade.

BOB Books. — I've put these books away until the baby is ready. Warning: they tear easily! These are fun, whimsical books that teach reading both through phonics and memorization. I actually think it's mostly from memorization, but many disagree. Empowers young children that they can read an "entire book."

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