Monday, October 17, 2011

Homework in kindergarten?

OK, I'm all for education and all that jazz, but it concerns me a bit that my son has over an hour of homework every night.

He's 5 years old. In kindergarten. And he's terrified of his first test on Friday (spelling quiz).

I certainly don't remember having to do that much work until later (although to be fair, I was something of an academic slacker)....


  1. Mine doesn't have any, but he spends half the day in first grade and sometimes comes home with some from first grade. He has a first grade spelling test every week. The first grade teacher has done a GREAT job about making it not seem terrifying. I wish I knew what she was doing because she's totally gotten him to not be afraid of making mistakes, and to not freak out when he gets a problem wrong. He's really just focused on learning and his perfectionist streak seems to be being held at bay for the time being.

    His classmates who have siblings in first grade are apparently better at doing the spelling words than their older sibs, according to the moms at the last birthday party we went to. But maybe it's more fun to study when it's your older sib's exam instead of your own.

    I guess if I had a philosophy it would be to say I'm ambivalent about homework in kindergarten, but I'm against parents who make a big stink about homework. Anti-intellectualism makes it more difficult for kids to love learning.

  2. @nicoleandmaggie- I'm glad to hear that the perfectionism streak can go away. While I love his ability to focus, sometimes it seems a bit paralyzing as he refuses to start until he knows how to do it. We've been reinforcing the idea that mistakes are OK, but he still gets upset when he gets something wrong....

    I also want to point out that I'm not opposed to the concept of homework - it's actually great to see how fast he's learning things. I just wasn't totally prepared for it, or how much work it meant for us.

    Which is why I'm fairly certain my opinion will be much more positive after I finish my pile of job/grant applications....

  3. Sadly, I don't think perfectionism goes away on its own. And there's lots of things that well-meaning people do that encourage perfectionism.

    I wish I could bottle whatever it is that Ms. O is doing. I'm worried we'll need it down the line.

    Good luck on the job/grants!

  4. I think the problem is that people have a hard time delineating "detail-orientated" with "perfectionism." It's great to do your best and produce high quality work (even in grade school), but it's something totally different to live a life paralyzed by fear of getting something wrong.

    Your child sounds very similar to mine. Just last night he broke down sobbing because he couldn't make what he wanted out of legos. Yes, he was tired, but it wasn't exactly an unusual response. And don't get me started with free drawing - he prefers coloring because he can stay in the lines, and it always turns out the way he wants (and yes, he does look up pictures to make sure he knows what color each animal should be).

    I share your fear of perfectionism, but I also know that it is a continuum that is constantly in flux. I also recognize that we, as parents, will need to continually work with him on maintaining the proper balance. Who knew I'd mention work/life balance when talking about a kindergartner....

    As an aside, I would love it if you could send me a care package once you figure out how to bottle whatever it is that Ms. O is doing. In the meantime, we'll keep working with and supporting my son in everything he does (and borrowing some ideas from your post).

  5. I am a parent of a preschooler. He is perfectionist, a great learner, and perhaps interested in math. Anyone who knows me would never accuse me of being anti-intellectual.
    However, with just a little influence from Rudolf Steiner, I frame my inquiry about homework in kindergarden (and in the future 1st grade with two hours of homework a day) like this: what supports our children to develop what they need at this age to become life long learners? what is developmentally important to their growth? I applaud efforts to improve our kid's educational experiences. But there are concerns growing from places like Japan where the rigors are so strict and intense in grade school that kids are suffering from stress and performance anxiety. I'm noticing research that is coming outt now, pointing to the value of play and unstructured time that is important for how kids learn to think critically. How do we balance all these needs while not forcing endless hours of educational labor on our kids? I think my son will do great in school and I'm here to support him. But why does his childhood need to turn in 7-8 hours a day of paperwork?
    As a massage therapist I will say this: forcing kids into chairs for the majority of their days and years while their body is developing is a prescription of lifetime back pain. How do we keep them active and enjoying what little freedom they still have?
    I have so much more research to do.