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The Homework Hassle

The Homework Hassle – I don’t mean to date myself here, but I truly don’t remember homework in Kindergarten.

homework hasstle

Homework image via Shutterstock


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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Thursday 8th of November 2012

Late to the conversation 2 cents as an educational professional and a parent:

Most homework has no educational benefit for most kids.

There should be no homework in kindergarten or first grade, certainly. If they aren't getting it, they either are not developmentally ready or have a learning issue that needs support. If they are getting it, the homework is boring and will make them hate school. My daughter gets way too much homework for a first grader and it is one of the reasons I wish we homeschooled.

Part of the problem is some of the parents WANT homework. They think it shows rigor an means their kids are learning. Except the research just does not back that up.

Erika E

Friday 5th of October 2012

My son had 'home reading' starting in grade 1. Every night he had a book he had to read and bring back the next day. The problem was the books weren't very interesting and he started to dislike reading. As far as Kindergarten, it should be a place to have fun, be with other kids and start to learn what school is all about but in a fun way. No homework.

Mary Carlton

Monday 1st of October 2012

If your child is only in Kindergarten; "You ain't seen nothin' yet!" Not only does homework increase but so does the amount of organized activities participate in.

The homework in kindergarten is meant to be a way to teach the homework routine. Each year the amount homework is increased. My sons school has used a "planner" since first grade. It is to teach organization. Now in sixth grade he is having alot of homework. I spoke with the school and they are very flexible. They do not want to overwhelm students. But they want all students to be challenged. It is up to each student (and parents) to recognize how much homework is right for them. If a parent feels the homework is too much, they can write a note. But this means that the student must be doing well on the tests. If not, then individual instruction may be needed.

I don't know if other schools do this but I think it is a great way to individualize the education students are receiving. Parents need to keep an active roll. We have limited the amount organized activities. (i.e. sports, music) We actually schedule time for him to "play". No videos. No TV. No Electronics. Just physical (creative) play time.

For me, I like that I can see what my child is being taught at school. If he were to keep his studies at school, I would not know if he was being challenged or not.

Mommy 2.0

Friday 28th of September 2012

We lucked out with my first grader's teacher this year. There is homework every night, but she stressed at the Open House that it should take no more than 20 minutes. Ever. And if it is not working for the child on a particular night, just forget it, and read a book. That's it. I agree with the comments on both sides, but I must reiterate what Kate said: it forces the parent to engage. Maybe the happy medium would be to have the homework model shift more into some of the enriching activities you described, Katie - counting and sorting leaves, baking something, locating words on road signs. If those were the actual assignments, perhaps it would seem like less of a chore and intrusion on family time. Sadly, though, I think you would see a bigger backlash from many families against that than writing a few sentences in a notebook each night.

Practical Parenting

Monday 1st of October 2012

That's great that the teacher sets a limit. And R's teacher is actually similar. I really just wish it was more project based and less rote learning at this stage. They learn so much simply by being outside. But I agree. I worked in a school for years...many of the parents wanted more worksheets!

Tragic Sandwich

Friday 28th of September 2012

I'm planning to boycott homework. I'm not kidding.

Practical Parenting

Monday 1st of October 2012

I'm SO with you.