I was quiet on the blog last week because I was in progress report madness mode. I was busy giving my little 5 and 6 year-olds grades for their performance across the curriculum. Grading Kindergartners opens up a can of worms, so I won’t quite get into that, but I’ll just say that while it’s necessary, it’s not my favorite part of the job.
Anyway. It reminded me of some of the comments on my Kindergarten series. Several readers mentioned homework and how it seems that little Kindergartners are now bringing home pages of homework every night. And sadly, from what I’ve seen and heard, it’s true.
In our district, homework in Kindergarten is optional, and when given, it is recommended that it be no longer than 10 minutes worth of homework. So. I don’t take that word optional lightly. Aside from reading at home, I don’t give homework.
And here’s why.
I strongly feel that homework is something that students should be able to do independently in order to reinforce what was taught at school and offer the students extra practice in a way that authentically mirrors the classroom. But when said students are 5 and 6 years-old, there isn’t much they can do independently, at least in a way that authentically mirrors the classroom. Sure, they can work on mindless (yep, I said it) worksheets tracing words like pig, wig, rig, twig, and jig, but at that point, one has to ask, is the point of it to reinforce or just to keep kids busy? And if homework is not just silly worksheets, but work that might be a little more meaningful and requires lots of parent support, then whose homework is it?
Don’t get me wrong. I think homework has its place for children in older grades (even beginning in first grade) and is necessary in order to show not only what students have learned, but also to teach responsibility and time-management. But, again, my school babies are, at the oldest, 6 years-old and I will fiercely protect their early childhood while I can.
Given that they are in school for 8 hours a day, I want them to spend their remaining waking hours playing and exploring the world around them. I want them to be pumped and energized and ready to learn in the morning because they’ve had so much fun at home! I want them to run and jump and get dirty outside and pretend and imagine and create their own kingdoms and worlds at home. I want them to come into school the next day chock full of ideas to write and share about. And since many of my kiddos have two working parents, I want them to spend time at home with their families at home having fun, not stressing over homework. In fact, I often tell my students that their homework is to go home and play: play something that isn’t attached to a screen and have fun while doing it!
What’s interesting, though, is that I often find myself having to defend this stance. Time and again I receive requests to please send home homework or to please give the names of workbooks to purchase. I explain my Kindergarten homework philosophy, but even so, am met with requests for homework. So, instead of doling out spelling worksheets, I’ve taken to sending home ideas for activities to do at home (much like the activities outlined in this previous post), but I think many parents would prefer homework that looks like, well, homework… But, as long as that word optional remains, I’m sticking to my stance!
What are your thoughts on homework in Kindergarten? Would you ask for it for your little one?