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