Claire should technically still be in preschool. However, because she missed her school’s cutoff age by only a couple of months — and because she’s a bit advanced for her age — her teachers recommended she start pre-kindergarten early. (As such, she will always be one of the youngest kids in her grade.)
And one of the things that distinguishes preschool from pre-k is the inclusion of homework.
I was shocked when they handed us her first assignment at pickup. Really? Homework for 4-5 year olds? (At the time, Claire was only 3.) I don’t remember getting homework until the 2nd grade!
They also included a sheet of instructions in her homework folder which included things like:
- Establish a scheduled time and quiet place for homework to be done. All written homework should be done at a desk or a table. Define a carpeted work area for card games.
- Complete all homework. Remember, we are trying to lengthen your child’s attention span.
And this gem:
- Be sure homework is neat. Perfection is the final goal.
WHOA! I don’t know about you, but that seems a bit demanding, if not unrealistic. (Or perhaps my expectations are too low?)
Additionally, the instructions clearly state that they fully expect the parents/guardians to help with the children’s homework. “Supervision is very important,” they emphasized. Not only do they want the parents to assist with, check over, and (if needed) correct the children’s work, they also instruct us to ask the children related questions to the assignment to help reinforce what they’re learning.
As you can see in the photo above, Claire usually doesn’t have a problem with homework time. If anything, she enjoys it! (I think she gets this nerdy quality from her mom. ) And little Aerin, who is currently at a stage where she wants to copy and do everything that her big sister does, also insists on doing work when it is homework time. For this reason, I have looked up simple worksheets online and printed them out so that she can also “study.”
Claire gets 1-3 sheets of homework every weekday. And it goes without saying that she needs my help with all of them, and rarely gets everything correct on her own.
Will this be the norm from now on? Am I expected to help my children with, and check over their homework for the next 14 years?
“Your parents never helped you with your homework?” J asked me. “Mine always made sure I completed my homework, and checked it over to make sure I did it correctly.”
This is brand new territory for me! My parents never helped me with schoolwork, not even large take-home projects. Nor did they ever have to remind me to do my homework — I just knew that it was something I had to do, and did it unquestioningly.
If anything, I believe this taught me independence and responsibility.
Is homework from a very young age — homework that is expected to be done with the parents and checked over by the parents as well — another byproduct of the helicopter generation? Or is it just a better, improved method of education?
I may never know the answers to these questions, at least not for a very long time. All I know is that Claire’s school seems to be doing something right if she was able to read and write simple words at the age of 3½ — and who am I to question them?
Additionally, homework is a good way for me to keep up with what my daughter is learning at school. For example, I didn’t know that she knew how to write her own name until we did her first homework assignment together. And a lot of times, I am surprised by what she knows. Like her homework assignment from yesterday:
I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have been able to do that just as I had turned 4.