Homework in Kindergarten? NO!

I’m angry.  I’m upset and I’m frustrated.  And I know I am not alone.

My disgust has a target: the homework packet that came home with my five-year-old kindergartener on Monday.  The six-page albatross includes writing, math, drawing, story problems, coloring, and a nature walk.

The whole she-bang is due Friday morning.

The assignments must be completed throughout the week  — after a full-day of school (8:15 am until 2:45 pm).  The long day itself is physically, mentally and emotionally exhausting for a five- or six-year-old.  My son naps at least a half-hour when he gets home just to make it through the rest of the day.

When giving her rationale for the homework, my son’s teacher (like teachers at schools across the county) said that such assignments help build life-long habits of independent learning and “get him into the habit” of homework.

I’m sorry, but she’s dead wrong.

The developmental requirements of the worksheets now sitting on my dining room table are well above a skill-appropriate level for any five-year-old to complete independently. The assignments require step-by-step, hands-on interpretation, guidance and prodding from a parent.  Every aspect of the homework, from reading the instructions to completing the work must be read out loud and explained by an adult. Otherwise, the child has no idea what to do.

But the problem only starts there.  There are a myriad of other reasons why the homework is inappropriate:

  • Although I have taught my son to read (using an amazing book), he is not yet reading at a level that allows him to understand the detailed directions on the worksheets,
  • He does not know how to spell.  Therefore, any answers he writes must be dictated to him by me or copied from something that I write first,

And here’s the kicker:

  • If my kindergartner does not complete his homework, it’s not his fault.  It’s mine. So what is that supposed to teach him? If he fails, it’s mom’s fault? What is the lesson there?  I value the fact that I am teaching my son personal responsibility for his actions.  But with this stupid homework, the school is fostering a “blame game” that will take years to undo.

Where are the study skills?  Where is the independence?  If you can find them, let me know!

The amount of worksheets has already created conflict with my son, who would much rather use what he learned in math by counting, sorting and grouping Legos than by cutting out bears and gluing them to sheets of paper at 6:30 at night. The busy-work also cuts into the creative time that my son and I would normally devote to other important areas of his learning, including music, swimming, outdoor creative play and conflict problem solving with this friends … or time simply reading with mom.

Are there other motives?

Then I have to ask:  Why so much “reinforcement of learning” in the first place? Is this homework making up for poor classroom management?  Are the children in my son’s class unable to accomplish everything necessary to meet grade level standards within the parameters of the school day?

I know that the answers to these questions are “No.” So why does my kindergartener have homework at all?

Big Brother?

Is this, perhaps, the educational system’s way to force “learning time” in my family in an attempt to tell me how to raise my son?  If that’s the case, then I will immediately return the fundraising materials, the requests for volunteer hours, the pleas to purchase grocery scrip, and all of the other donation envelopes that make their way to my house.  If they think that I am unable to manage my at-home learning time with my five-year-old, then obviously I can’t handle a checkbook or my calendar, either.

I can’t help but wonder what the next step is in this intrusion. If my son has copious amounts of skill-inappropriate homework and is unable to exercise and play outside, will the school then tell me that my kid is fat and dictate my grocery shopping lists? (It sounds paranoid, but I’ve seen it happen in other schools).

I’m not the only one who’s mad

I am by no means bashing my son’s teacher.  She’s a hard-working, vibrant young woman who is effectively teaching a classroom of small children.  I am not bashing the private school where I send my son.  The problem is that both the teacher and the school are following a new trend in homework that has infiltrated public and private education.  With no basis in educational theory or study, and no example of success, schools and teachers are assigning a huge amount of homework because “the other schools are doing it.”  Do a little research on the internet, and you will find scores of parents who are as upset as I am.

Is that any way to formulate an educational system?

Homework is not a bad thing – when assigned appropriately

Do I believe in homework?  You BET I do.   The only reason I survived math and learned spelling words was because of the practice I did at home.  But I was in the third grade and could read the directions on my homework, understand the requirements, and complete the work independently.  If I didn’t do the homework, I understood and suffered the consequences because I was of an appropriate age to comprehend what was required of me.  My son, as a “normal,” healthy, curious five-year-old, cannot do that yet.

I realize that I will spend my son’s school career helping him with research projects, checking his homework when it is complete, and drilling him on his times tables.  I’ll show him how to use the Internet safely and I’ll be a second set of eyes for his essays.  But not when he’s in kindergarten.  While he is this young, my job is to make sure he plays safely with his friends; is a well-behaved, nice and polite little boy; holds my hand in parking lots; eats lots of fruits and vegetables; and gets at least one story read to him every day (among a million other things).

Now what?

I’m in a quandary about all of this.  Do I swallow hard and play along?  Do I cause a stink with a very enthusiastic first-year teacher?  Do I not do the homework with my son and dare the school to fail him?  I will be having a meeting with the teacher and the principal, but I’m waiting for my anger to simmer down.  If you know anything about me, you know that an angry Joelle is a real trouble-maker.

If anyone has a study that shows that giving me and my five-year-old homework worksheets will make him better at anything, I am open to reading it.

Perhaps it is time for schools and teachers to look at what is developmentally best for a child.   Forcing me to do my son’s age-inappropriate homework (and then create a situation where he has no responsibility for getting it done) is definitely not that.  Maybe it’s time for parents to stand up and demand age and skill-level appropriate homework — and no homework at all for children before the second grade.  Anyone with me?

And in case you were wondering: yes, I do have a teaching credential.  It’s expired.  Just like I am.

In the meantime, my kid will be outside, playing.  Where he should be.


51 thoughts on “Homework in Kindergarten? NO!

  1. I am absolutely frustrated and exhausted. My daughter is a kindergartener who has been speaking English for a little over 2 years. We left her abusive father in Mexico where she was born, and Spanish is her native tongue. She did well in preschool, but is struggling this year. I am now a single parent struggling to make ends meet. By the time we get home, she us exhausted, as am I. Finding time to complete homework assignments is extremely difficult. This week she has to do a report for black history month. My daughter still doesn’t have her abc’s or 123’s down. Yet, she is supposed to do a report? I’m glad to have found so many responses similar to my feelings on kindergarten homework. While homework is not unacceptable, there should not be assignments that are beyond the child’s comprehension. A kindergartener should not be given such a task. At least not mine. When are we supposed to have dinner? She also came home with an assignment requiring scores to be kept for super bowl. I refused that assignment, as my daughter was in bed shortly after the game began. I don’t know many parents whose kindergarteners stay up till almost midnight on a school night. I didn’t think I was alone, and I don’t believe I am. Save the reports for children old enough to understand it comprehend what they are doing. How does the super bowl relate to her education? I’m so frustrated. I feel like I’m back in elementary school.

  2. Amen! Thank you for saying this so well. My thoughts EXACTLY! I’m going to print this out and give it to my son’s teachers and maybe even principle. The homework problem is driving us nuts and starting the whole homework world (of which the future is vast!) off on a very unhappy foot.

    1. I feel your pain!!! My kindergartener is in school from 7:30-2:00 and comes home exhausted as well. However, as far as homework is a different story. Our school principal is a mom of 3 elementary school age kids. She has made it a priority for kids at her school to have quality time with their family after school. So , children are to spend only 10 minutes per grade for home work! So kindergarten homework only takes 10 minutes per night. My daughter loves school and this. concept actually gives her a chance to show me what she is learning without getting overwhelmed. So, I think this idea should be brought up at your next PTA meeting. Oh and did I mention that this 10 minute homework school is a Blue Ribbon and STEM school !
      It is one of the best elementary schools in the nation. I hope your school listens to your suggestion So your child cam learn to love to learn!

  3. Same problem here. My kindergartener gets at least 1 hour of homework every day. She has no time for playdates or extracurricular activities on weekdays (or the homework is incomplete or rushed through). I have not challenged the teacher on it but asked about how long it should take approximately. She said it does not HAVE to be completed but if we don’t complete it I feel guilty or feel like my kid might get left behind.

  4. This is well said, and in January 2016, I am in complete agreement with Joelle! It is my grandson’s first year, Kindergarten, and on month five, he is burned out! We are burned out!

  5. Tonight, from our 5 yr old kindergarten granddaughter, after the homework frustration of not being able to write a complete sentence:

    “Papaw, I’m just not a good learner.”

    Now, there’s her lesson learned…

  6. I am so excited to see this site with parents having the same issue with kindergarten homework. I have 4 school age boys and a full time working schedule. I have twins in kindergarten. This is beyond to much. Not only do I get off and try to maintain all the assignments, the packet week to week is over rated. They hardly get play time or relaxing meal times. The school systems here in Ohio have stopped the naps, teaching them to tie they shoe, and cursive writing, due to “not needed” in school education. But throws in packets for kindergartens. I don’t have a problem with (A ) page here and there, but I feel like I am the teacher, parent, and correction officer because (they write/call) to tell you how they are misbehaving too. I am very much considering home schooling and giving them the education and freedom they deserve at the same time. I have a conference tomorrow after school and will voice my concerns on this matter. I will also review what the punishment is if they don’t complete the entire packet by due date, if there is no way to stop the excessive kindergarten assignments. Wish me Luck

  7. To all the complainers out there, this is the reason why we are dipping behind other 1st world nations in academics. Everyone believes we should be stuck in the 1950s world of afternoon baseball, soapbox races, and weekend porch-sitting. This was a time when we did not have to compete with the rest of the world.

    This is also the reason we are now slipping behind in academics compared to many other 1st world nations. Young children are coming home with letter and number tracing homework with a dash of coloring and pasting while other countries send thier kids home with hours of algebra and literature work. Yet parents still complain?

    Wake up America. While we have Nigerian world class athletes, Chinese musical prodigies, India popping engineer schools on every corner, European countries making world breaking discoveries in Physics, asians building better cars than us, and so much more, us americans complain about having to be involved in our childrens eduaction!

    1. Your assertions that a lack of homework for kindergarten students is causing the country to falter in education is absurd. The countries that you listed as superior in education do not start education until age 6. At 6 years of age a child is capable of learning to play the piano over a 6 week period at a proficiency level paramount to a child who studied piano from age 2 thru 5.

      It sounds awful that the teacher is assigning the parent homework every evening.

    2. Actually, other countries with far better educational systems focus on play in kindergarten. Their kids are far better educated than ours.

    3. I do not agree with the assertion that tougher academic standards being pushed down further in the grades and more homework is the answer to being” behind other countries”. Remember – we went to the moon based on the work of people who did not have to know how to read in kindergarten. Our scientists discovered vaccines for childhood illnesses and they didn’t have common core math in kindergarten. We have plenty of noble prize winners in science who went to public school before there was so much pressure to teach to the test. I am a retired teacher and what I see in education is a constant push to reinvent the wheel. I always had high academic standards for my students but I taught them in a way that made sense (example- using the term “borrowing” when subtracting in math – horrors! instead of “re-grouping”. It worked) Maybe now that Pres. Obama signed a bill to rid us of much of NCLB – perhaps schools can adjust their curriculum to fit their needs.

    4. Wow! Already, a five year old must face the global economy? As a parent, an educator, and as a generally educated person, I am inclined to say, screw the “competition” and let kids be kids. In some Slavic countries, kids don’t start Kindergarten until seven. If you are going to look at the international picture, make sure you look at a more complete picture of the way education is approached around the world.

      1. Absolutely! Play is a critical developmental stage where creativity versus rote thinking is being cultivated. I think quality of life is in order here and that is why we do only 10 min max of homework for kindergarten as a comprmise.

  8. Kindergarten is now the new first grade. Your teachers have certain things your child has to know before the end of the school year. We, as parents, are a team with the teacher. It is our job as caring parents to decide what is most important for our children. Going to ball practice or doing homework? Complaining about their homework is telling our children, learning is not important. Being accountable and responsible is not important. Children can learn and are much more capable than we tend to give them credit. As parents, we need to teach our children how to sit still, listen, and follow directions before going to school. This is not the job of our teachers. Our teachers are to teach academics, not how to listen and obey adults. Respect and discipline comes from the home. We need to watch what we do and say in front of our little ones, they learn more from us than we think.

  9. I don’t understand why you wouldn’t hold the private school accountable. Why pay tuition for an education you don’t believe in? This makes no sense.

  10. I’m in the same canoe, as many frustrated and overwhelmed parents of over-home-worked kinderkids. I live in Hawaii, where we have a lot of outdoor activities, and can enjoy many hours of hands on learning in nature. My child has about 40-50 mins each day of homework expectations, sometimes they let them slide and don’t send home any packets, but there are still sight words, number sheets, and book responses and journal entries and also FLASH CARDS. I’m pretty much in shock. I’m having a meeting with the teacher, vice principal and teachers aid this next week to discuss the concerns. I know I am not the only parent in the class who feels this way, and I am willing to stick out my neck to the administrative guillotine to make sure my child gets to have a childhood. We are in too much of a hurry to grow up our kids in our society anyway—with all of the sexualization of media and clothing, music, etc. For our family, we are wanting our kids to have more free play time, and social education. Remember the adage “Everything I needed to learn in life was in kindergarden”?? I don’t believe that referred to what a trapazoid was. I think it had a lot more to do with how to treat one another, and how to get into a school setting. If we don’t emphasize love, respect, and communication skills our kids are headed for a lot of pain when the enter real life expectations and relationships. Also, the kids are not wired for a lot of left brain memorization this early, and I think it is not good for their spirits. I will go out on a limb here, but I believe in God, and a creator who made us the way he did for a purpose….and we shouldn’t expect anyone that is 5-6 years old to perform academically like they are 6-8yrs old with homework expectations and wrote memorization. What good is that anyway? Do I remember all the stuff I had to memorize in High School?? Barely. Do I remember the connections I’ve shared with people, situations, and lessons along the way??? You bet. I want my child to have loving experiences, and a life long curiousity for learning—-REAL learning, the kind that makes an impression not only on our minds, but our spirits also. I think that our educational system needs to make sure that we are honoring more than test scores, and the financial concerns for keeping our kids in brackets of performance. It puts a pressure cooker on all of us—kids, parents, and teachers. Stress will nullify our education—-as we all know, that when we are in fight or flight stress responses from too much external pressure we don’t retain information. Let’s just let our kids learn, naturally….as God would have it. That’s how it’s always been, and people turned out just fine before we started to externally design education. Ok, rant done. Let KIDS BE KIDS!!!!!

    1. Oh….I forgot to mention….if they don’t get all of their homework done at home, (MEANING IF I DON’T DO HER HOMEWORK WITH HER), she has to stay inside for recess. They get about 15 mins twice a day for recess. They shouldn’t be punished this early for non compliance….or should I say, I shouldn’t be punished for not helping her do her homework!!!!

      1. I believe that homework in kindergarten is nonsense at best, and at worst a stressor and nuisance on families. I wasn’t having my son do it. He happened to do some last week at someone’s instigation (not me) so I figured what the heck, I’ll turn it in. It got sent home with a note that my son missed recess because he was forced to work on the packet. I WAS LIVID!! There’s no evidence of benefit, but it’s definitely inappropriate to punish a kindergartner for not doing it. It’s even more inappropriate to punish him when he has no idea that he is even supposed to do it, and BEYOND inappropriate to do so without even talking to the parents first!!

        Hello, homework is done AT HOME and is therefore the responsibility of parents to see how it fits into the family plan. I am obviously 1,000 times more vested in my son’s long-term educational trajectory than any teacher. If I decide I would rather teach him chess than do some stupid drawing — especially when he already draws in his free time — that’s my choice. Now I have to deal with this well-meaning idiot teacher and feel blackmailed that if I don’t force my son to agree to her demands that she will send him messages about what a bad kid he is for not living up to his “responsibility.” What an idiot. If need by I will chew her out, along with the principal, superintendent, etc., and if she gives my son a hard time over my parental choices I am not averse to suing for harassment. THAT’s how you piss off a parent over homework.

  11. There’re pros and cons of giving homework to a 5yr old. My son goes to a Montessori bilingual (English and Chinese) kindergarten from 9am – 6pm Mon-Fri. He loves to be mentally challenged. He enjoys doing homework. He actually reminds me that it’s time for him to do homework.

    As a result of doing paperwork at school and home, he can master what he learns much faster. His math and reading are at second grade level. His Chinese is easily at first grade level in China becaues he practices speaking, reading, and writing Chinese everyday, although Chinese is not his first language. He has become his teacher’s little helper by tutoring his classmates who progress slower. He is one of the few kids who complete every homework assignment each month.

    Let’s admit it, there’s no shortcut to mastering anything. Montessori schools use plenty of creative tools to teach kids math. And doing 15min to 30min homework each day really help kids like my son maximize his learning potential. The earlier a child develops a good learning habit through self-motivation, the easier it is for a child to adapt to tougher challenges later.

    Yes, there’re days I feel bad that my 5yr old works longer hours than many adult workers, because he also practices piano 5 days a week and Chinese martial arts 2~3 times a week, in addition to 9 hrs of school and 15min of homework each day. There’s no shortcut to mastering any instrument or martial arts either, and he loves everything he does.

    Every kid is different. And there’s no absolutely right answer. I support my 5yr old’s diligence, perseverance, and self-motivated studying habit which will benefit him life long. And he plays just as hard if not harder than typical boys. He plays a variety of sports and board games that’re for 7-8 yrs old. He gets TV time. He can name every US and Canadian hockey team. He’s well traveled. He giggles and smiles more than most of kids I’ve met at his age. He’s geninuely happy that he gets to do big boys’ things sooner. He is always intrigued by learning new things and at such an early age, he gained emotional intelligence by seeing how fast he progresses through working hard.

    The only recommendation I have is focusing on a child’s emotional intelligence (EQ) development, then it’s much easier for them to adapt to all kinds of learning environments, and it’s much easier for a child to excel in whatever he or she chooses to do when he or she is self-motivated.

    1. you must have one person in your household helping you financially so that you have the time to spend with your kids to complete this stuff. For us, it’s home from school, go thru his stuff, clean up after the younger one, make dinner, spend some time together, let them do their own thing for a bit (play), time to get ready for bed. and off to sleep. it isn’t easy when both parents are occupied. the marriage has to have some attention as well.

      1. Most double income parents don’t have this luxury. I wonder how they cope. Although I do stay home in the afternoons and help my child with homework, it is excessive for me too to spend so much time doing homework when I have other things that also need to be done (cooking dinner, chores etc). I have no choice but to help my kindergartner with the homework as she can’t do it herself especially the math. I wonder if there is a solution to this madness.

  12. I too am at my wits end with my daughters teacher and school in general. Once per month she’s given a calander with homework tasks to complete on a daily basis. On top of that her teacher assigns a project to complete every weekend and to be turned in on Monday. This month however the teacher forgot , or didn’t have the calander ready until Friday. My child was expected to complete Mon-Thurs daily assigned homework plus her weekend project all over the weekend , even though she wasn’t given the instructions to do so until end of the day Fri.

    To go along with her homework her school held a fund raiser at the local Chucky cheese encouraging parents to use ‘coupons’ and in return the establishment would donate 15% of proceeds to the school. We attended like involved parents normally do to find not a single school employee there. No teachers no principal. I’m seriously considering removing my child from public school in favor of home schooling her.

    These are the tasks that were completed by my 5 year old child over the weekend

    Monday: Write 3 sentences about a vehicle and illustrate them. Read for 30 minutes. Practice writing 1-20.
    Tuesday: Read for 30 minutes. Draw and label a picture showing the nighttime sky and the day time sky. Practice writing ABC’s (lower case)
    Wednesday: Draw pictures to make an A-B-C pattern. Read for 30 minutes. Practice doubles to 10.
    Thursday: Make a math story problem using 3 turkeys and 2 pumpkins. Read for 30 minutes.
    Weekend project: Tom the turkey does not want to be eaten for thanksgiving. Draw a disguise for Tom the turkey and write a story about how he escaped being eaten. ( a drawing of a turkey on a blank paper was provided)

    This is far too much work for a five year old in my opinion. Also poor planning on the teacher/schools part shouldn’t result in an emergency on my part.

  13. My five year old in Kindergarten received 87 pages of the same parent hand-held step-by-step homework last month alone. 87 pages (front..and..back.)

    I’m not just angry I am down right enraged. As a single working parent I don’t even have the time to hand hold my five year old through two hours of work each night while he can barely hold his head up and all he wants to do is relax and play with his toys to unwind after having his brain slammed with new information for a full day.

    I didn’t even do 87 pages of homework in a month when I was in college for Mortuary Science.

    It’s downright ABSURD!

  14. I think homework is necessary to a degree, to bridge school and home. I went to a public school that did not give homework. I also grew up with parents that worked long hours and did literally nothing to bridge school and home, and they were not bad parents to any degree. In fact, most of my friends’ families were also like that (I grew up in NYC). You may be the type of mom that spends time to teach your kid how to read, but there are many parents that don’t know where to start and therefore don’t.

    If it is at their appropriate skill level (no writing; matching picture of an apple to the word; circle the letter A,B,C etc.), I think having homework will do more help than harm. It will also encourage many parents to be more interested and involved in their kids’ schoolwork, especially those in public schools, where parents are often less involved and unsure of how to help the child.

    1. Why would you think it would make parents more interested? It has the same effect on both my son and myself…school sucks. I have so little time to cook dinner get all the kids bathed and in bed, arguing with a crying kindergartener about homework he doesn’t even comprehend doesn’t foster any kind of good “bridge” between home and school.

  15. Thank you so much fort his discussion. I went to bed tonight with a heavy heart. Feeling guilty about what i believed was letting my son down by not having the discipline myself to sit down after a hard days work and do homework with him nightly. I have long felt that after a full day of school, it was unreasonable to expect my son to settle down some more and do homework. I literrally fight with him to focus! He’s frustrated, i’m frustrated! Tonight, he wanted to play with his toys, build a marble run. I yelled at him because he would not focus on his homework that had to be turned in the next morning. It’s all wrong. I blamed my 44 year old with a kindegartener self for having a child too old. I can’t handle the stress this time around. After waking up in the middle of the night thinking about the homework nightmare the night before, i conducted a search on whether kindergarteners should have homework. I have a daughter in college and i distinctly remember that she had no homework in kinder. Your blog has set me free! My son begged to ride his bike after school. I said no! You have homework to do! Next time, i will put his helmet on and enjoy watching him get some much needed exercise. This homework in kindergarten is ridiulous!

  16. School children in the United States consistently rank in the middle of 65 countries around the world on measures of reading, math, and science when compared to the rest of the world. Finland’s school children consistently score in the top ten–usually the top five… Their school children do not take tests until high school, homework is very minimal, and school is not even compulsory before the age of seven. Homework and teaching to a test is a great way to squash young minds’ love of learning. It makes me sad to hear about Kindergartners–who are already in a full day of school!–having to sit down and do homework when they get home. Kids at that age learn through play, not through sitting at a table!

    Here is a great article about the Finnish school system if anyone is interested: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/people-places/Why-Are-Finlands-Schools-Successful.html?c=y&page=1

  17. Well you know kindergarten is SCHOOL! In school you get homework you can not get mad over it! Your kid has to learn and to learn work is needed. Now days kindergarten is not fun and games because there is preschool and early preschool. Kindergarten you go to a school and do work and homework. If you are mad about it then you are wrong. Teachers have to teach and send home work to see how they do

    1. You are an idiot. You must have missed the part when Ms. Casteix mentioned the words “age appropriate”. We are having very similar issues with our five year old who cannot comprehend the things that are being sent home. She is very bright, but cannot read, spell, or write yet. These are the things that should be being taught while she is in school for nearly 35 hours per week. Everything in her array of daily and weekly homework requires our 100% supervision for completion. How is she learning from this?

  18. WOW! I have been teaching Kindergarten for 14 years in an inner city school. Every summer I say “next year No homeowrk- just reading”, but many of my parents can not accomplish this task so I find myself hunting down worksheets that can be done independently by my students (no parental involvment neccasry). I can’t seem to break the cycle. The students who need the extra support that practice homework would help- don’t have the parental support at home. Kuddos to all the parents that care and can! However, please aim your fustrations at powers higher than your child’s school- education is constantly changing. Be a voice, but aim it higher!

  19. I am a pre-service teacher working toward my BA in Elementary Education. I am also a single mother of two, a six year old kindergartener, and a four year old who I will not be enrolling in the all-day pre-k program now available in our school district. I appreciate that I am not the only parent that feels how I do about this issue. I spoke with my son’s teacher, a wonderful, wonderful, woman who has been teaching kindergarteners for many years when he began to literally fall asleep in his dinner plate. She explained that the principal had reduced “rest” time to 15 minutes. When I spoke with the principal, she said it was reduced in favor of parents who were complaining that their children went to school to learn, not nap. I am so frustrated, recess and physical education classes (i.e. opportunities for physical activity) have been reduced in favor of academics in our district as well. Just when is my kid supposed to get any kind of physical activity if on top of everything we are spending so much time EVERY night doing worksheets! No wonder Oklahoma kids are among the unhealthiest in the nation, not to mention the ones not performing very well academically!

  20. I am a kindergarten teacher and I whole heartedly agree with your postion on homework. I think that it is wonderful that you provide your children withe the exposure and experiences that’s worth so much more than being confined to boring, repetitive homework sheets. However, in some cases parents are not giving their children the time nor the experiences that you mentioned. Without the homework sheets to bridge the gap between school and home in this kind of situation, what would suggest that teachers do to help reinforce the learning that takes place duing the day?

    1. Why does it need to be reinforced? I don’t understand why 8 hours a day/5 days a week of schooling isn’t enough to reinforce the things that a five year old should be learning.

    2. What is this bridging the gap nonsense? They’re not in college, why even send a child to school if they can’t learn everything needed without also needing to be taught it at home? If I knew how to teach my children I wouldn’t be sending them to school! I’m not a teacher, I don’t know how to teach a five year old how to read or any other things that get sent home, if I did I would choose to homeschool.

  21. Well, after speaking w/ a dozen or so of my friends, fellow parents, and family members about my 5yr son bringing home “Homework Packets” each night during his FIRST WEEK of Kindergarten (and getting a collective, “You’ve got to be %*#*ing kidding me!”), I figured I’d explore a wider audience. Thx Joelle, for framing the issue perfectly.

    If the school is willing to issue me a stipend for “Teaching” my son to “Practice” how to write, read directions, and in essence DO his homework AFTER his 7hr day, I might consider it. Kidding aside and to echo your earlier statement, my son looks forward to letting loose/having fun outside and using his Dad as a moving obstacle after a looooonnnnggggg day of Kindergarten…not more school work.

    I’ve got an idea: Let’s take these teachers and force them to learn a foreign language, quantum physics, and molecular biology….all at once. We’ll give them homework on all three subjects every night starting on Day 2. If an after-school tutor is required, they’ll have to find/fund one on their own. Nice thing is, we’ll blame the tutor if the teacher falls behind!!!

    1. I am a kindergarten teacher. I send homework because it is an expectation of our school and not a choice. Believe me, I would like to throw in the towel on homework! I struggle every week trying to bridge school and home connections and find appropriate, differentiated homework for my students. It’s hard.

      I have 3 children of my own. I was a single mother when the boys were young, and I’ve always been a working mother, so I get the frustration from a parent’s perspective. However, I want you to know that there is no misguided view by teachers that homes are Ozzy and Harriet situations!

      Also please consider that schools are not of the Ozzy and Harriet era either. The bar is constantly being raised and no matter what we do in the 7 1/2 hours we have your children, it is never enough or never good enough. I’m so disheartened every time I hear about government’s plans to “fix our schools” because I know that the ax will be falling soon. And I know that, at least in our state, kindergarten is not even mandated. Yet, if the child is not in kindergarten, they are most likely starting off in the hole at the first grade level.

      I totally agree that kids need to play and rest and have family time. How do I relate that to the administration of our district, who answers to the state, who answers to the federal government, who mandates the rigor our students must work under, that we ALL think its too much?

      It’s not, most of the time, your child’s teacher, who you should fire angry comments at.

    2. HA! As a kindergarten teacher, I have to say it. “issue me a stipend for teaching my son to practice how to write, read, directions,” blah blah blah. Yea. You’ll get one when I get one for teaching kids how to blow their nose, wash their hands, provide one-on-one counseling to the child that’s parents are divorcing (drinking, not feeding her), reimbursement for supplies for the kids that don’t have them, reimbursement for the clothing they don’t have…..yada yada yada.

      This Us vs. Them attitude makes nobody a winner. All it does is breed hostility. If we have issues with one another, let’s look for solutions instead of bitching. Really. Your attitude sucks, my friend, and you need to realize that the teachers aren’t out to ruin your childrens’ or your lives. They are doing the best they can to get the kids where the new standards bar is set (certainly not set by them, but those who believe they KNOW education because they warmed a chair in schools for 13 years) so that the school can continue to receive the funds necessary to educate your child. Help, don’t heckle.

      1. Please quit teaching. Your attitude is poor and you are jaded. If I had an employee like you that acted like that I’d be managing you out and replacing you. That anger spreads like cancer. Stop.

  22. Hi Joelle,

    I am a kindergarten and first grade teacher and I am in total agreement with you! Homework (other than reading good books and sharing good stories about what you are learning with your family) is not developmentally appropriate at 5 and 6 years old. We do not assign homework across the K/-1 grade levels. The philosophy of our school (developmental, project based, and differentiated instruction) supports this.

    Many parents love it, while others constantly ask for extra work at home. They are in such a rush for their kids to learn everything. I tell them to play, talk, read, and write with their child, but mostly just enjoy their childhood. So much learning happens through meaningful experiences – not through worksheets that are disconnected and tedious! I also keep them up to date on what we are learning through detailed weekly newsletters and if they want to continue lessons about coins or symmetry (for example), they can.

    All learning should be meaningful, and when you’re 5 and 6, the best way to learn is through play and authentic life experiences.

    I hope things can change for the better!

    All the best,


  23. So…what happened? Can you give an update? I just found this post, so perhaps you have already…My daughter is only 3, and I’m already worried about homework in Kindergarten. Can the parent just refuse to have the child do it? You make such a good point about the child not being able to process the information in the first place. I plan on making a big stink about it, but unfortunately the area that we live in (Long Island, NY) totally buys into it all.

    1. Well, we are now more than half-way through the year. I discussed my issues with the teacher, who really listened to my concerns. She’s a first year teacher, so she’s in the big learning curve and has begun to really shine as a teacher.

      As the weeks went on, and she became more comfortable with her expectations and the abilities of the kids, I noticed that the homework “packets” got smaller and smaller and focused on things that my son had learned to do independently (write letters and numbers, etc.). I am still not pleased with the concept, but I think that with good discussions with teachers, we can slowly chip away at the problem until homework is no longer assigned to 5-year-olds.

      As a universal concert, I think it stinks. After a full day of school (8 am to 3 pm and before and after school care when I have to work), that little boy needs to run and jump and play.

      I did think long and hard about not allowing my child to do the homework, but that just creates a division between me and the teacher, as well as my son and his friends. Life if hard enough when you’re five without your mother fighting with your teacher and your friends thinking that there is something wrong with you because you are the only child who does not do homework.

      The most important thing is to find a school that does not only (mostly) fit your philosophy, but also is open to discussion and change.

  24. This is a trend that I noticed quite some time ago when my oldest (now 25) started kindergarten. My opinion is that the teachers are stuck in an Ozzie and Harriet / Leave it to Beaver time warp where the Mother stays home and Dad is home by 5:30, with plenty of time for lots of parent guided homework. They don’t seem to take into account two working parents, single parents, or other obligations. F*** them. I’m glad my kids are adults and driving their own education.

  25. Joelle. I feel the exact same way and share the same frustration, especially since Eamonn struggled with writing during the first quarter of last year. It took us 4x’s as long to complete the homework packets and meanwhile Marley was stuck inside and ignored while I had to give Eamonn 100% of my time and support to get through them. I just kept telling myself that all my other friends complained about homework in kindergarten. I still don’t know where the research is or what started all this homework at such a young age. Like you said, I think homework later is appropriate for obvious reasons. I still feel frustrated because now he has homework every night. At least with the packets we could space it out or do the bulk of it on a night when there wasn’t soccer practice, a playdate, etc. Reading every night is a must- I totally agree with that. But the busy worksheets don’t make any sense to me, especially in a full day program. I am totally with you! Now the question is, how can we change it?

    1. I also want to be sure to say that, like Joelle, I am not saying anthing against the teachers or the school. I love the staff and teachers and think they are Angels for wanting to be in the educational system at all considering how hard they work and all that they have to deal with. I just don’t understand how this trend started and why there is so much academic pressure in kindergarten. Joelle- you do an amazing job of putting this all out there- thank you!

  26. I completely agree Joelle. Lucy goes to after school care directly from kindergarten and is there until about 5:30 when I pick her up, I get off work at 5. By the time I get her and Casey, go to the car and get home it is almost 6. I then see the homework and like you, realize Lucy can’t do this on her own. So now she needs for me to spell out the words for her and I have no idea when I am going to be able to take a nature walk unless we eat dinner at 7:30, then go directly to bed after.. oh but I am supposed to take Casey on a walk after dinner as her weight to height % is too high and her pediatrician recommended it. I guess we could eat then do the walk but then it will be dark. I thought kindergarten was to prepare the kids for school, learn how to sit still and pay attention, get along with others, etc. The other night at the Fish Kitchen there was a family sitting next to us who saw us with the homework and the mom started complaining about it too, she had a 5 year old. She also said that her friend had called her that day complaining about so much homework for her kindergartner. Kids are going to have enough later on, when they can do it on their own, read the instructions and understand them. Why give them so much now when they should be learning other things, like how to read, sit still, follow directions, etc. Parent/Teacher conferences is coming soon.

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