There’s an interesting post up at the Motherlode blog on the New York Times site. In it, Holly Korbey discusses what she sees as a troubling new trend: homework for preschool students. When one of her friends complained about trying to force her 4-year-old to do worksheets assigned in class, Korbey couldn’t believe it.
Yet a little research confirmed that this was far from an isolated issue. She spoke to parents across the country, all complaining that their young children were being assigned nightly homework assignments. Of course, trying to make a 4 or 5 year-old complete a worksheet seems to be an exercise in futility. Most of the parents complained that their children were inattentive, and that getting them to complete the work could end up taking hours each night.
The reason for assigning homework to kids this young? Why, to prepare them for the homework they’ll encounter in kindergarten, of course. It’s been a few years since I was in elementary school, but I can’t remember actual homework being sent home until maybe 2nd grade. The idea seems ludicrous – and most of the parents Korbey spoke to agreed.
But that didn’t inspire most of them to speak out. Fearing that doing so would limit future chances at getting their kids into good schools, many parents are afraid to tell their children’s preschool teachers that they find the assignments inappropriate. Some of these preschools are the only route for parents to access magnet or gifted schools.
Apparently, being able to sit and fill out worksheet after worksheet is a sign of intelligence – try telling that to the parents of twice exceptional kids, who are gifted and also suffer from learning disabilities like ADHD or dyslexia. (Or, for that matter, the parents of profoundly gifted children who are probably bored out of their minds by worksheets.)
The question of gifted schools aside, research is increasingly showing that there’s just no benefit to assigning homework to kids at a young age. As Alfie Kohn, author of “The Homework Myth: Why Our Kids Get Too Much of a Bad Thing” told Korbey, “No research has ever found any benefit. It’s all pain and no gain.”
Photo credit: Anthony Kelly