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Every day my 5 year old twins get home from school and almost immediately… they sit down to do their kindergarten homework. There is a math sheet. There are spelling words. There are very basic early reader books.

I have to help them with it all. Which is okay. But I’d rather be reading them a book. Or jumping on the trampoline. Or watching them make a fort which I will love because it’s so creative and then hate because they start fighting over the construction and then hate even more because somehow I always end up cleaning it up.

But that doesn’t happen. At least not right away. Because of homework.

My son flies through it. And then runs off to fight imaginary enemies and bother real older sisters.

But my 5 year old daughter inches her way along, with great frustration. She stops so often, to moan about homework, that it can take her more than an hour to get it done.

Harlowe homework

It all seems sort of ridiculous. My older daughters never had homework at this age. They barely had it in first grade.

After 6 1/2 hours of school, shouldn’t a kindergartener be able to run, jump, hide and seek, color, climb trees, draw treasure maps, create science experiments and whatever else they can come up with in their creative little brains.

I don’t blame the teachers. Not at all. They are rock stars. They are just trying to keep up with impossible academic standards for younger and younger children.

The United States just never seems to get it quite right when it comes to education.

Can’t we learn from countries like Finland? Finland, one of the leading countries in education, gives far less homework and has a shorter school day.  And only one standardized test. Which is not in kindergarten. It’s in high school.

Can you imagine that? One standardized test.  And teachers get more time to collaborate. And kids get more time to (yup, you guessed it)… play.


15 Responses to kindergarteners… it’s time to put down the homework and go play.

  • Corina says:

    Arghhh! Don’t get me started, because I’ll rant. This is one of the reasons I homeschool. I want my kids to love learning, not be forced to sit on their butts all day and then having to do it AGAIN when they get home. Homework for five year olds???????
    I’ve been writing about this topic a lot lately: letting kids play and spend time in nature, not structuring every single hour of their day with activities, igniting the love of learning not because WE want them to learn, but they want to.
    Anyway. I told you I would rant. I’m from Germany originally, and the whole US educational system seems crazy to me.

  • Megan says:

    Oh I could go on and on about this topic. Know it’s late in the year but talk to the teacher & just have harlowe do 15 mins (ugg). Whatever she gets done she gets done. When Caitlin was crying over hw in kindergarten I told her & the teacher that she didn’t have to do it. Of course being the kid she is she did most of it anyway. Hw does not increase grades, test scores or intelligence at this age. You have it right Kelsey…let them play and eat a family dinner together!

    • Mary Clare says:

      Yes to play! Hopefully the teacher will agree to something more reasonable! Every kid has a different temperament and learns in their own way. At my daughter’s elementary school (she’s in 2nd grade) the teachers (so far) have been giving minimal homework and always with the caveat to talk to them about other arrangements if the kid is fighting it a lot.

  • Honestmum says:

    Yes to this and the UK is the same, it breaks my hearts these ridiculous standards for young people. Children as little as 6 are taking exams. Where is the respect for childhood. Finland are spot on x

  • Oh I’m so sorry!! Poor baby looks like she just needs some massive cuddles. We only have real home work in grade 1 here in South Africa, and that’s miniscule. Grade 2, however, I’m finding more complex!
    It frustrates me that the ‘system’ wants every child to be the same. My child would learn a whole lot more upside down from a tree. And I was exactly the same.

  • MN Mama says:

    Kids learn so much from unstructured play. It seems that we have forgotten it! It makes me sad. Hang in there mama!

  • hokgardner says:

    There’s an ad for a private school here that touts its success at teaching 3 and 4 year olds to read instead of just having them learn their ABCs. I can’t help but think this is the worst possible argument they could make for their school. I want my kids to read at the appropriate time, not have it crammed into their heads way too early so a school can tout reading numbers.

  • Jen says:

    It’s so hard with twins, too. My boy-girl twins are in kindergarten this year too. My daughter is the one flying through homework and my son struggles. They compare themselves to each other, too, and sometimes my son will moan, “WHY is it so easy for Arielle??? I’m just dumb.”

    Their teachers send home a homework calendar, and a homework packet, at the beginning of the month, and the kids are supposed to complete 3-5 activities per week. That does put the responsibility on the parents, but it also allows us to skip a day if there’s a lot going on. The district mentality has shifted from “heavy homework reinforces classroom concepts” to “kids learn classroom concepts better if they have light homework and free time for other activities.” The test scores haven’t seem to suffer, and this has been the philosophy for the last 5+ years. I’m just so thankful, especially when I see that picture of your daughter. I can’t imagine how stressful this is for you and them. It’s so hard to watch your kid struggle through homework!

    We have half-day kindergarten in my district, which I love. They have 2.5 hours of school, but it’s solid academics for 2 of those 2.5 hours and, honestly, they know a lot more than our oldest did after a year of full-day kindergarten. It took them a bit longer to grasp concepts, but once they picked up the basics of reading, spelling and math, they’ve grown their understanding quickly.

    My husband stays at home with the kids and I work from a home office, so they come home in the afternoon, eat lunch, play, rest, and then have a bit of homework before we’re off to soccer or baseball or dance or piano. I have no idea how we’ll do it when they’re in school all-day next year, but I’m so thankful that we’ve had this year to ease them into kindergarten.

  • Karin says:

    My twins faced the same thing. My daughter had no trouble with the homework. My son struggled terribly. So his teacher put him in a special help group, which meant he got all the homework his sister received, plus extra homework. This was in kindergarten and first grade. By late October of first grade, he started saying, “I should just die.” That was it for us. A six-year-old who felt this terrible? It still makes me teary even thinking about this, and he’s now a happy, healthy and whip-smart 14-year-old. Back to first grade: In November, we took him out of that school and his sister too the following year, and enrolled them in a different public school, where they had a sane, loving and common-sense approach to homework. By the end of third grade, my “slow” reader had read every Harry Potter book on his own. And he had barely any homework until fifth grade!

  • Karin says:

    One more thought, Kelsey: When my son did start homework in fourth or fifth grade, it was still a struggle. After too many challenging, frustrating nights, we made a new rule: He needed to start his homework, but when he just couldn’t focus any more, that was it for the night. Time for fun, relaxation. Then he just finished (or tried to finish) the homework in the morning before school when he was fresh.

  • It hugely detrimental to the kids. You are so SPOT ON with what your gut is telling you. KIDS NEED TO PLAY. THAT is their ‘homework’. True ‘work’ is something that comes much later in life, and lasts for decades. This is why I choose Waldorf Education for my kids. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waldorf_education)
    I’ve graduated three of my kids (with flying colors, all excelled/are excelling in the public high school after their years at Waldorf) and two are still at our local Waldorf school and thriving. They LOVE school. They LOVE learning, TRUE learning (no photo copied work sheets. No memorization just to ‘memorize, no ‘teaching to the test’, etc.). Like one post said … don’t get me started. 😉 (Keep listening to your gut Kelsey. You are an amazing mama!)

  • Judy P says:

    I was just thinking about homework the other day. I sure as heck didn’t have any in kindergarten or the first few grades and not much until 5th grade. I was happy that most of it was the kind I could do on my own. My brother and I HATED homework that required parental involvement because before we got help we had to listen to a 20 minute rant from one or both parents about how teachers don’t teach in the school and why do they have to teach at home, they aren’t teachers, they didn’t sign up for this, yadda, yadda, yadda. Needless to say we skipped a lot of homework that we probably shouldn’t have. I can’t imagine if my parents had school age children today! EEK!

  • Daphne says:

    100% yes – it’s insane. We are not creating beings that will be able to function in the real world, which never puts one kid and one pencil vs one test with no other resources. It’s insanity.

  • Perine Lowe says:

    This is something which every mom has to face. It is not unusual that your kid gets up from studies and start playing. To tackle these problems apply the methods which your mom once did. Do not scold the child rather make studies fun for him, create his/her interest in studies. I hope this helps you.

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kelcey kintner