Homework for preschoolers … what is your response to this practice? Well first let me clarify what kind of task I mean. It is the type that requires a child to copy numerous pages of alphabets or words. And if the child is learning Mandarin, he would be copying pages of Chinese characters. Regarding this controversial topic, there seem to be 3 types of parents:
- Parents laughing at the idea of preschool homework. They say it is absurd and unnecessary. Repetitive writing doesn’t do them any good. Children of this age should play because that is how they learn. Homework takes the fun out of learning.
- Parents who say it is necessary. How else will parents know what their children are learning in preschool? Review and practice are a must, even if they are boring. In addition, it gives children the opportunity to learn discipline. They need it if they are going to be ready for “real” school.
- Parents who are 50/50. They totally agree that playing is important. But they also agree that homework has some benefits, too. The problem is that they are confused:
- Learning should be fun. Homework is not fun. It will kill my child’s enthusiasm for learning.
- But homework must serve a purpose. If not, why haven’t they discarded that idea?
- If I don’t bother with homework, that’s still fine, as there are other ways to learn. But if I don’t bother with homework, she won’t learn to discipline herself. And later, when you go to “real” school, you will also relax on your homework.
So what am I? The one that spells CONFUSION.
The following is a typical roller coaster that I go through. I’m sure many parents are familiar with the following process:
Reminder: “Have you already finished your homework?”
Direct order: “Do your homework now!”
Supervision: “Stop playing and focus on your homework.”
Try to encourage: “Come on, you can do this. Finish at once and then you can go play.”
Frustration: “Aren’t you finished yet?”
Threats: “Finish your homework or else …”
Resignation: “Aiyah, you want to or you don’t want to do, it’s up to you. I give up.”
So much unnecessary tension and stress. There has to be a better way to handle this battle of duties.
After reading and thinking a lot, I have come up with 6 things that will help release tension:
- I chose preschool. In doing so, I indirectly agree with their ideas and forms. So if there is homework to do, do it. There is no point going to the teacher to debate whether that homework is worthwhile and blaming him for his high blood pressure and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde syndrome. If you don’t want the headache of homework, find a preschooler who will grant you that wish.
- Communicate with the teacher. Find out how they handle to-dos. Are they the monsters that we make them be? The ones with a rotate in one hand and fiery criticism pouring out of their mouths? Or do they allow the child to work at their own pace?
- Don’t focus on the negative. Ignore the crooked and shredded writing. Instead, praise the ones who look decent. More important is the effort they put in and not the result of that effort. Give praise often to make homework a pleasant experience.
- Carry out other activities that give meaning to their duties. Reading aloud to them every day will teach them that the letters and words they write can make beautiful stories. Find all the “a” words in that story. Sing songs like “Ant on the Apple.” Use modeling clay to create that alphabet. Be creative. There are tons of book and internet ideas to help you. If you don’t have ideas, ask the teacher. Make your homework a combination of exciting activities and not a boring task in isolation.
Talk to your son. Find out how they feel about the task. What is the problem? Sometimes all they need is to be heard. Don’t ignore or belittle their feelings. Find a solution together. This is what I do with my daughter Karina:
Mom: What time are you going to finish your homework? Karina: After dinner. I am tired now. Mom: Ok, what can Mommy do if Karina doesn’t do it then? Karina: I’ll sit down to rest until I decide to finish it. Mom: Sounds good. Do you need help with your homework? Karina: No. I can do it myself. Mom: That’s great. Let’s write down what we just discussed. Anything you want to add? Karina: Yes. I get ice cream once I finish my homework.
Note that there is no screaming. Her feelings and ideas are respected and she takes responsibility for her actions. I especially like the idea of reaching an agreement. When promises are put in writing and the child has to sign, the promise carries additional weight. The child feels valued when he sees that his words are important enough to write them down.
- Be near. Reassure them that you are available when they need help. Let them know that they are not alone in tackling difficult tasks. Don’t assume that what seems easy to you may be difficult for them.
So my conclusion on preschool homework … why have a cow on it? If it’s boring, let’s do it in a nice boring way. It takes an effort to figure out how to do that. And then it takes more effort to fight that nagging desire to play dictator. But with a plan in hand and a little research in our bag of tricks, it can be done. Yes, preschool homework can be stress free. Decide today and do it.