Homework in kindergarten

An example of my 1st grader's homework

So, I have my kids in the local public schools which has real drawbacks and benefits.  One of the things I am struggling with is when – if ever – to push back over some the homework issue.  Like has happened at a lot of schools, homework has creeped down into earlier and earlier grades.  So, my 1st grader has nightly homework and my kindergartener has homework once or twice a week.

There are so many problems with this.  First of all, there has been a bunch of research into the matter and homework has no benefits – not educational, in fostering good work habits – until at least junior high.  The problem is that this conflicts with deeply ingrained ideas about the importance of starting good habits early, the need to practice those habits, etc.  So although it is literally a fact that homework for elementary kids has no benefit, people think that it must and won’t let go of it.  When confronted, people either deny reality or fall back on another admirable goal: parental involvement.  Which leads to the next problem . . .

I am very involved in my kids life without your help, thank you very much!  And I don’t particularly feel the need or desire to document the time I spend involved with them.  And what if we go two weeks without reading together and then devour 4 books in a weekend?  I don’t need/want the schools making me feel like part of their job is to hold me accountable for reading to my kids!  The best predictor of whether a kid will be a reader is whether they see their parents reading and how many books are in the house – NOT whether I spend 20 minutes a day reading to them.  Needless to say I read on occassion (ha!  on ocassion.) and I have a few books in the house.  If I got nothing else right while homeschooling, at least I made readers.  I really don’t need or want the school’s help.  This is the one thing which I have held my ground on, I steadfastly refuse to document time spent reading to my kids – not for bribes of pizza or so my kid can get her gold star.  I’m not going to do it.

But it’s not just the tracking of minutes reading that is a problem.  It’s the homework itself.  The homework is BULLSHIT.  It would be much easier to settle into complacency over sending my kids to school rather than homeschooling if I didn’t actually have to confront the bad pedagogy and pointless drivel which passes for school curriculumn.  Not to mention that it’s pointless to have my daughter “read” the same story each night for a week when by the second night she is reciting it from memory.  This does nothing to help her learn to read.  (And don’t even get me started on spelling lists.)  Seriously, people – sending this crap home each day is not confidence inspiring.

It doesn't get better - an example of my 7th grader's homework

I’m struggling with how to handle this.  I don’t believe in telling my kids things that I know aren’t true, so it’s hard for me to try and convince them that homework actually has a point.  Mostly I just focus on the expectation of the teacher that it be done and the star that the teacher will put on her chart when it is done.  I did finally start sending the names of books Michaela read to me or other family members in lieu of reciting the week’s story from memory (I still let her do that when she wants to – memorization is an important skill.  But it doesn’t count as reading.)  I have started refusing to help her with worksheets like the one above and insist that she figure out what she’s supposed to be doing herself instead.  Do I say anything to the teachers?  I know its not really their fault – and they are so sweet and seem to be genuinely good teachers.  It’s not really even something a teacher can do anything about.  Sending home work with kids is something they are all expected to do.  But there is  pressure on my girls to conform and jump through the hoops to get the grades (good skills to have, but hardly what the main focus should be about).  I want them to be successful in school, but I don’t want them to fall for bullshit claptrap like doing things simply to collect gold stars instead of to learn.  I know that my and even my daughter’s teacher’s power to effect change is pretty limited.  Schools are inherently limited in how flexible they can be.  Other parents no doubt completely disagree with my suggestions.  Curriculum is a huge investment and can’t be tossed on a whim.  Etc, etc, etc.  So . . . anyone have any suggestions, insights, experiences to share?  I’m all ears!


6 thoughts on “Homework in kindergarten

  1. My child is all grown up now and away from home, but if I were to do the whole thing again, I would NEVER put my child in public school! They are boxes of brainwashing, working hard at your kids to turn them into work minded slaves that they can use later on down the road. As we are beginning to raise our collective consciousness on the planet now, there will be big changes soon to come. Home school them until such time and when that time does arrive, schools will be very different indeed. Right now I personally think they break the spirit of a child. Good luck, I don’t envy you….. Visionkeeper

  2. Homework is the reason my twice exceptional (gifted with ADHD Inattentive Type) 16 year old daughter was failing Public school 10th grade. After expending so much mental energy during the day, she just couldn’t bring herself to focus on yet several more hours of it in the afternoon/evening – especially if she was otherwise engaged in a drama production (her passion). Luckily I found a very small private school to send her to and they never give busy work, give time during the day to get “outside the class” work done, and basically give very little homework period. She does read for Language Arts – and does reading responses about once a week. I LOVE this school! So, I have no real ideas to share with you on how to deal with the homework nonsense (that connect the dots worksheet had me shaking my head!) other than to simply not do it! They don’t get letter grades until 3d or 4th grade – right? If I rarely even showed those early report cards to my daughter. And what report cards really matter anyway ~ until 9th, 10th and half of 11th grade? I had lots of discussions about what really mattered (learning) and that her grades didn’t need to be a reflection of her intellect. But grades mattered to her – and to the teachers. So she suffered. Her esteem suffered. She became depressed. I’m happy to say that the new school’s approach (and so many other positive changes like using tablet computers to take notes and get/turn-in assignments, strong emphasis on out of the box experience and thinking, prioritizing community service,,,) has worked and it is a great “fit” for her. She loves school now and her esteem has recovered! I wish you the best with your daughters. Please write more on this subject. Your insight is valuable.

  3. I couldnot stand what “school” was doing to my sweet kiddo. I loved learning, loved most of my teachers, but school was awful. I actually enjoyed homework BUT that was my passion. All the kids with other passions suffered. I never intended to homeschool but kindergarten was a bad fit for my 5 yo boy. So we tried homeschool and he graduated this past month with honors from home with over 1400 credited volunteer hours in addition to his “school ” work. Depending where you live there may be creative options available. Good luck with your quest for a quality education for your child/ren.

  4. Homeschooling is the answer! it is tough at times, very demanding, but can be extremely rewarding. Just don’t do what I did. I used boxed curriculum so that if I wanted to drop son back into school I could and he could survive – wrong idea. Now in year 10 private school he hates it. He is forced to agree with teachers rather than challenge them especially in Religious education and literally every other class.

    We need to teach and prepare our kids to be thinkers, go outside the box, dream, participate with joy and excitement and to follow their questions to answers and learn to excite passions for learning and varied topics. Today the schools do NOT teach them any of this, it is just the opposite and then there are the bullies, and keeping up with the Jones’. They are creating followers as the establishment does not want thinkers. Hmm is this why political depravity is taking place through out the World? My generation from what I have seen and gathered were possibly the last of the free thinkers with a good deal of rebellion, 60’s & 70’s. The arts have been dropped greatly since then too. The arts are needed as they are a form of expression that have numerous ways to be viewed and seen as they integrate with soul of man, no two persons will have the same exact experience, hence our uniqueness hidden within us by God.

    Rebecca, you are thinking yea but you only had 1 child. Guess what – it is harder with 1 than a few. Also there are numeours ways to do co-op teaching with others, hiring an English teacher to tutor a group of 5 to 10 weekly in proximate age groupings, art and higher sciences can be done the same. Numerous ways to join groups and do outings, in the states the list is endless and did much to all of this as well living there. In other countries, like Australia (here now), not many groups to be had, so put him in school here. Many of my friends have done 3 to 6 kids, all of which are passionate learners and thinkers. There is only one other private school I considered years ago, Waldorf but did not live near one and could not afford. Highly creative, allows for higher thinking and moving forward at your own pace, therefore smarties were not held down with the others.

    By the way the universities are worse than ever now, have our oldest a 22 year old there and he struggles with the extreme liberalism in your face, shoved at you from all corners and riddled through out their studies. Many other friends are feeling same here and in USA feel the same. Many are opting for the smaller town colleges both for fees and less bullsh#t depravity thrown at you.

  5. Wow, sorry you wrote that 4 years ago, where are you at now with school and your kids. Sorry was not pushing homeschooling, some do not have time to do and others not the talent nor patience. A short lived experience is good like during summer time to test it and your self out as it is not for everyone. Private school can be good to and has been our final choice for high school, yet we have less money to go and do things as a result.

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