The Homework Hassle – I don’t mean to date myself here, but I truly don’t remember homework in Kindergarten.
I remember some cool projects. I remember those little picture books that I made by the dozen each day. I remember dressing up and playing pretend. I remember playing outside. A lot. I remember the music room. I remember writing my name.
And I remember the naps. Yes, in my Kindergarten class, there were rugs for napping and we all took a break for a little bit.
Imagine that? A morning of fun filled activities, some learning, a lot of outside play, and…a nap?
Those were the days.
Kindergarten is a much different learning experience today. Yes, it varies depending on the school. But the push for accelerated learning has taken some of the fun, and a lot of the unstructured and outside playtime, out of Kindergarten.
My daughter comes home with a homework packet each Monday. The goal is to complete one assignment per day and turn it in on Friday. Sure, the assignments are fairly quick. And yes, we scored a teacher who is super mellow on the homework front and asks for a picture of a “family activity” for one assignment each week.
But my daughter is in school for 4 hours and 20 minutes a day, five days a week. She’s working on fine motor skills. She’s practicing numbers and learning some math. She’s learning sight words and working on reading.
She’s doing a lot of hard work each day. She’s exhausted when she comes home. She needs time to just relax and listen to stories before we head out for some afternoon playtime.
But her relaxation time is cut short by the need to complete the assignment for the day.
I get it. A little practice at home reinforces what was learned during the day. It makes sense. But…doesn’t listening to the latest adventures of Cam Jansen while picking out sight words on the page reinforce her learning? Isn’t a trip to the library considered an educational experience? Can we count cars and sort fallen leaves to address math skills? Or maybe even bake some pumpkin muffins instead?
Practical learning is everywhere.
Nature walks are really just a stroll through science. Hula hooping often results in counting. And road signs everywhere can add words to the sight word list.
I hear the complaints from the parents of kids in third and fourth grade.
It’s too much.
It takes all afternoon.
It’s too much stress.
I feel for them. I really do.
Here’s what we know: We know that kids are not getting enough unstructured play, exercise, outdoor play, and downtime. We know that kids need all of these things in order to be healthy, active, and motivated learners.
I’m sure there’s a happy medium in there somewhere. I’m sure there’s a balance to be found. But I, for one, would like to vote for more practical learning and fewer words on the page after school hours. I would like to see more outside time, more unstructured play, and more reading just for fun. Because reading is very, very fun.
I know there are two sides to every story, and I can appreciate that some people really like the idea of homework. I guess I’m just not one of them.
Where do you stand on homework?
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