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Thursday
Feb232012

Preschool homework? Are you mad?

Tell me if you think this is as absurd as I do: Esme is snuggled in a ball on the couch, about 45 minutes into a book she's been reading since she got home from school, and I have to tell her to stop. "You have to do your homework."

She's 7. And already whimpering when reminded she has worksheets to color, math problems to work out, sentences to write. She'd rather read. She'd rather run on the playground. She'd rather make mud pies and fight dirt "fires" with her brothers and sister. 

And I can't blame her. 

As far as schools go, I think we're probably pretty lucky. She didn't bring homework home in kindergarten at all and hardly any in first grade. There's definitely been an uptick this year, she typically does at least 30 minutes every night, probably more if you factor in the moaning and dilly-dallying. But I'm hard-pressed to argue that her time isn't better directed toward wild play or free reading. You want to give her homework? Tell her to count out the change in her piggy bank and buy a piece of candy at the local shop. Make her write a shopping list and go grocery shopping with her parents. Tell her to go on a walk around her neighborhood and record the 10 most interesting things she saw. 

I just can't hop on this homework bandwagon. I understand that completing tasks helps children develop organizational skills, but surely there's a better way, a more suitable age. She's loved school until now, but I see the homework creating resentment.

This morning, when I dropped Tobias off at preschool, I stood near the cubbies and waited for him to take his coat off, store his backpack and put his snack in the right place. He's 3, so this takes a while. He has to investigate the toys, talk to his teachers, stare at his friends. 

Next to me, a mother handed three worksheets to the teacher. I didn't pay it any attention until the mother walked away and the teacher, apologetically, told me "some of the parents have requested homework for their children."

My eyes went wide, unblinking. Horror spread across my face. 

Tobias goes to preschool three times a week, three hours at a time. He paints, sings, plays. Learns to wash his hands and be nice to others.  

Homework?!

"Don't ever give that to us," I said. I'm still reeling.

Reader Comments (3)

Hi Dana,

Wow- requesting homework! My Esme is now in Kindergarten and has homework most nights. It is not terribly difficult, but I'm not nuts about pressuring her to do it.

I just came to an understanding last month that her weekly after-school Spanish class has homework. Who knew? The teacher never told me or sent home notes - I suppose she relies on the children to tell their parents about the homework? I'm still not getting the straight poop from Esme and have no idea what she is supposed to be doing from week to week. Let's just say that she hasn't learned much Spanish this year.

February 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMaryB

I am already a little horrified that I have to, in a few months, hand my eldest off to a group of strangers for the BULK of his day. When the child gets home, I need for him to be my kid again. I need stories and snuggles and karate or whatever else. I cannot give the school that time, too. Problem: the school where my son will attend is renowned for its homework. Hours a night. Struggle to get it done. I told my husband that we'll go until it's a problem. And then we'll find a solution. I don't know what that will be.

Homework is BS. There aren't studies that prove its effectiveness.

February 23, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterseeking elevation

The homework culture is really out of control. It seems like we want to teach kids to be overworking maniacs from birth. Seven hour school days, 30 minutes or less for lunch and recess combined, 10 minutes or more of homework per grade per day as the standard ... it leaves little time for other things - or nothing, which is totally appropriate for the sub 13 set in particular.

It makes sense to do some \"practice\" for homework - reading, spelling, math problems - but even these in excess aren't good. Studies have shown, for example, that less than 10 math problems work just as well as the 20+ that most teachers assign. And long term projects? For the birds. Grade schoolers can't organize the work themselves, and it turns us into the bad guys.

February 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLisaS

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