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Is Assigning Homework to Preschoolers Going Too Far?

Is Assigning Homework to Preschoolers Going Too Far?

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.”


Related Stories:

How Much is Too Much Homework?

The (No) Homework Revolution

What’s Best for our Kids? The Homework Revolt

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Photo credit: Anthony Kelly

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2:40AM PDT on May 29, 2014

yes but think it depends on the type of work. daily worksheets are pushing it . i remember doing a few simple coloring pages (eg. body parts , colors)about once a month.

7:18PM PDT on Mar 25, 2012

Simple answer, yes!

12:57AM PST on Mar 5, 2012

i remember my son had the odd bit of homework at preschool. but it was basic stuff like make a robot out of a box all he had to do was draw a face on it. and cut out arms and stick it on it if he realy wanted to but work sheets are going to far. I dont mind if its something age appropriate and not every night.

4:43PM PST on Mar 2, 2012

Isabel R. you're perfectly right. I've voted for Yes, but it depends to the type of homework they have to do. If it's a funny, easy one, that may also reveal their skills and their learning capacity, it's OK to me. Homework shouldn't be a stress factor, but a friendly method to prepare the kids for the learning process in higher grades.

11:25AM PST on Mar 2, 2012

Rasma -- I agree, an hour of interaction with your child a day is not too much to ask. But I resented it when teachers sent home 'family projects' to do, which were mostly just busy work. I think I'm capable of interacting with my kids without their help. I would like to choose the manner of interaction. Maybe we like to interact by doing a puzzle, or reading a book, or walking the dogs together, or cooking dinner together. I don't need the teacher to give me a worksheet to force us to interact. When we got those, sometimes we did them, and sometimes we didn't, depending on what else was going on.

11:21AM PST on Mar 2, 2012

Preschool is much too early for homework. I never had any homework at all until 5th grade, and I don't remember ever having a huge amount. Neither did my daughter. But by the time my boys came along, the homework started in kindergarten and by second grade was overwhelming. It completely took over our home life and blew bedtimes out of the water. My boys both have ADHD, and one has Aspergers, too. By the time they get home at 4pm, they are exhausted. Pile on 3-5 hours of homework at least a couple of days a week, usually more, and that's a lot of stress, very little play, lots of tears, too little sleep, no extra-curricular activities... it was awful. Luckily high school has been much better, strangely enough. The homework load is much more reasonable.

10:00AM PST on Mar 2, 2012

make the homework fun and i see no problem with it

3:28AM PST on Mar 1, 2012

Observing animals in the wild, one can see the young playing and usually,it's involved with play-fighting. To carnivores, that teaches them skills they need later in life to survive. To chase a butterfly teaches a young leopard to later chase an antelope. To catch the lizard then teaches them to keep it or be hungry, and of course, Mom comes along and nurses him about then. Next time she catches something, she might bring it back alive and let her cubs chase it some more and then kill it. It's all "good" and are life's lessons. She doesn't just stop feeding them one day and say, "okay, you kids are on your own". She demonstrates, coaches and helps them. They are just games in the meantime. Same with human kids. Make the earliest "lessons" fun and games.

3:07AM PST on Mar 1, 2012

Homework for kids this age could be just "fun" things, that could just give the kids a bit of focusing on something for a few minutes instead of watching TV. Doing something as simple as counting loose change and rolling it teaches them to add and subtract.......learn "math". Give them a photo of a street sign and have them make up a rhyme to the word or explain what it means, etc. That is how my oldest grandson learned to spell. I'd point out street signs when we were driving somewhere and he had to read them or tell me what the word on the sign meant. It was a fun game for him. He learned to count by rolling my loose change.

2:44AM PST on Mar 1, 2012

Read these books to my children and now have grandchildren to enjoy them. She will be remembered through her lovely and educational books. Thanks for post.

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