My barely five-year-old entered the big wild world of kindergarten last year. The first week of school my husband and I attended a kindergarten parent prep night. At this meeting we were informed that kindergarten was no longer a “fun” grade like it was when we were children. (Children these days have a lot less recess and whole heck of a lot more academic expectations.)
My husband and I left the meeting feeling slightly overwhelmed and nervous about how our child would react to this transition. As we suspected, the jump from pre-k to kindergarten was difficult for my son, and he was apprehensive about the whole thing. He wasn’t quiiiiite ready for the tiring days of sitting still, and he wasn’t prepared for the long hours spent learning information that I learned in the first grade.
You see, my son is a spunky bright eyed child who loves to read and color, however, he also likes to spend his time playing ball and running our small country town ragged.
So the long days of hard kindergarten work mixed with his need for more playtime sometimes got the best of him, and on most evenings he was mentally EXHAUSTED.
I was fully prepped and prepared for his time at school to be jam packed academically, but I thought our evenings would be left free to do things together as a family like go to the park, read fun books, and play. So imagine my surprise when I opened my son’s folder and learned that our kindergartner would be required to complete nightly homework – most of which consisted of busywork type worksheets.
Y’all. I get it.
I get that teachers need to keep parents involved in their kid’s education. (I actually have a background in education myself.)
But I just can’t. I can’t get behind the idea of forcing my 5-year-old little boy to spend our precious time together in the evening completing painfully annoying worksheets after he spent the past seven hours sitting still and working hard in school.
In the beginning of the year, we did the darn worksheets despite the fact that most nights tears were shed over it. However, as the weeks passed by we made a tough parenting call and decided to ditch the homework entirely in order to let our child be five.
And we never looked back on the missed homework.
Once the first quarter passed, I received my child’s progress report. He was excelling in all areas.
Except for… you guessed it. Nightly homework, which was marked as an “Area Of Concern”.
The only area of concern for me, however, was the fact that we live in a school district where nightly homework for kindergartners is a requirement and a mile marker for their progress.
The National Education Association (NEA) recommends that ideally homework should not be given in kindergarten at all, but instead should start in the first grade. Even in first grade, however, homework should not exceed ten minutes long a night. A study two years ago found that many kindergartners were receiving nightly homework that was the recommended amount for third graders. Stephanie Dondaldson-Pressman, who was the contributing editor of the study, found that too much homework was negatively impacting children’s attitudes about school and their social skills.
Now, will I make my children complete their homework when they are older? ABSOLUTELY. Education is extremely important to my family. (I have a college degree and my husband has his masters.) But do you know what I find equally as important? Letting my kids be little and letting them spend their free time doing age appropriate and developmentally appropriate activities.
In the end, my son is now in first grade. (Ironically, this year he does not have homework besides his daily reading.) My son can read and write at the first grade level, and I am confident in the fact that he did not miss out on anything by failing to complete his kindergarten homework. We made a tough call, but I believe we made the correct one for my son by letting have a small break from school work in the evening.