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Homework

This week our kindergarten team met with our first grade teachers. We had a discussion about homework. I always viewed homework in kindergarten as practice and a way for the students and parents to get in the routine of sitting down each night and doing homework. I was surprised to hear the amount of homework some of the first grade teachers send home and I became scared I was not preparing my students enough for first grade.

I started thinking about what I have my students do each night. I do not believe in sending home hours of work to do each night. The homework I send home is max 25-30 minutes and that is if the students are truly taking their time. I send a homework calendar home at the beginning of each month. I also send a book at the student's reading level home on Mondays and the students return the books on Fridays. Every once in awhile I send home a project for an activity we do in class. I do not have the students doing homework over the weekends.

I do not feel that I need to send anymore homework than I do. I thought since I have the opportunity to reach out to other Early Childhood educators I could ask for your opinions on homework. I would love to hear what other teachers do and share ideas. Please share your thoughts in the comments below. Thanks!

Comments

I'm glad you're reaching out to hear what other teachers think. I'm not a teacher. I am the co-author of The Case Against Homework: How Homework Is Hurting Our Children and What Parents Can Do About it and I also run Stop Homework, a not-for-profit project affiliated with The Alliance for Childhood.

I really urge you read what the research says about homework, because there is no research showing any value at all to homework in elementary school. There's no reason to have homework at all in kindergarten, and the fact that you're giving 25-30 minutes a night is shocking to me. If you take a look at my book, you'll get a pretty good idea of how parents feel about homework, especially when it's assigned to young children. Their children are miserable. The homework isn't fun. The kids cry and throw tantrums. I'm sure that's not your intention in assigning it, but that's the reality.

Your students will be best prepared for first grade if they're allowed to have a true kindergarten experience. Kindergarten should not be the new first grade.

I agree with your view of homework in kindergarten as practice for students and parents to get in the routine of sitting down each night and doing homework. I'm shocked at the amount of homework some kindergartners get, and it increases tremendously from there on after! I'm even more surprised at the increase in focus on academics so early on. The difference between the daily structure and routine of preschool and kindergarten is like day and night. Kindergarten was a long time ago for me, but I remember enough to know that the emphasis on academics and homework was not as high.

The reason you were surprised to hear how much homework the first graders were getting is because it's just too much homework! Please, don't compound the problem by assigning too much yourself. Teach kindergarten the best you possibly can and let the kids deal with first grade when they get there. Otherwise, the overwork and the stress that comes with it just keeps getting pushed on younger and younger kids.

Please ask the parents what homework is really like in their house. You might be surprised at how long it really takes an exhausted child to do that 25-30 minutes of homework. You would also be surprised if you knew how much of the homework is actually being done by the parents, because it's less trouble than forcing their child to do it, and they don't want to rock the boat by complaining to you.

I teach 4th Grade, and I have a 4th grader of my own. While I don't believe in homework for elementary students AT ALL, 10 minutes per grade level is the recommended guideline given by most districts and quoted in most literature. 25-30 minutes for K is too much. Further, as a parent, I've got to tell you that homework in K-1 is not homework for the children--it's homework for the parents. Because kids that age can NOT do "independent practice" at home.

Part of the problem we have today is that we're forever "preparing" kids for the next grade--or even college (yes I've heard that in elementary school) by having them do the work for that grade a year earlier. And it becomes a vicious cycle. You prepare kids for 1st grade by having them do kindergarten, not by having them do 1st grade work a year early.

My 6th grader won't read. He hates it. Because way back in 1st grade he had a reading log. It was too much too soon, and instead of creating good habits as was the intention, it sucked all the joy out of reading for him. It made it a chore in a time when reading for pleasure was something I was trying to promote for him.

Fast forward a few years. My younger child is now in 1st grade. We don't do the reading log. And the homework we get (which is considered minimal) is hardly independent work. One math worksheet and his spelling words each night turns into 40 minutes of stress and anxiety for us both. We do it, but I don't really see the benefit, and in fact its the low point of our day. Really.

My daughter is now in kindergarten. Last night for homework she received 2 pages of math(mix of both addition and substraction), I page of sentence completion(8 sentences), and she was having a spelling test on 15 words the next day. I dont know how long the teacher believes that the homework will take, but it can go for 1 1/2 hours(i give her breaks). I feel Iam doing her an injustice, I want her to have a passion for learning, but she already hates it. I remember kindergarten being a time of fun and creativity, but now there seems to be a greater focus on preparation for standardized test and first grade. Why has the system implemented so much homework for young children? What do we do as parents???

I have 2 daughters who had homework as kindergarteners and they loved it! We used that time daily for them to prepare for the upcoming years' routine of doing homework. It didn't take more than 30 minutes on the days they didn't stop and tell me about their day or how their teacher taught them the skill they were working on.

Now they come home and sit down and work on their homework. I can see what they are learning at school and can help them when they have a problem. I see nothing wrong with homework if it is used as reinforcement for skills they have learned at school or to help them get ahead.

As a teacher, I see parents busy trying to make sure their children get to ball games, practices, playdates, etc. but not taking the time to assist with homework or checking over homework to be sure their child is on the level he or she should be. I think we as parents and teachers should help the children to excell in school and quit trying to find fault because the children whine and complain about having to do work. They learn quickly that they will win (most of the time) if they put up a little fuss. Parents need to begin to teach children they have to do some things in life they may not enjoy as much as others, but they still need to do them.

I am a working parent AND a kindergarten teacher. I hate homework too! Its bad enough that the school day is so long for these little bodies. After a long day at school, they need to run around and play and "get their wiggles out". They also need to go to bed a lot earlier than they are. The best thing a parent can do is read to their child each night. I send home five little "baggie" books each Monday. The children read these to their parents according to the parent's convenience and return the books on Friday. These books are on the childrens' independent reading level. If a child is having trouble in some area such as counting with manipulatives, I work with them independently in the classroom and also send the parents an email with suggestions on how to reinforce this skill at home. I have a few parents that want a ridiculous amount
of homework just to keep their kids occcupied at home and I won't do it.

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