Dear Savvy Sister,
Homework. My son is five and in preschool. He has homework Mondays through Thursdays. Not sure I agree with that at this age, but I suppose if he is going to go to public school it is good to get him ready. Question: when is the best time to do homework for retention? Everyone tells me just after he gets home – which is about 4:30. It is always a fight. But when I let him choose later on after dinner he is more receptive. It seems logical but I don’t want to create any bad habits down the road – procrastination, then not doing it at all. Savvy Sister, what do you think?
Dear Einstein’s Mother,
Oh, boy. You are going to hate my answer. But it doesn’t matter because I am right. I’m like the Pope: infallible. (Disregard the fact that papal infallibility is a fabricated phenomenon invented by the First Vatican Council in the late 1800s to make people stop questioning the church. That sure worked well!)
Here is one of the great underrated truths about modern education: Homework for younger kids is dumb.
It’s true! My children attend school for 31.5 hours each week. That’s a job! And then teachers want them to take work home with them? I don’t think so.
Exceptions include reading, because all of our kids should develop reading habits, and studying for tests. Even so, most of the studying, in my opinion, should come in the form of in-class review. Teachers, what do you think? I’m assuming that grading homework isn’t, like, some sort of aphrodisiac for you.
You’ve got a couple of issues here. The main one is that your pre-school is giving your little boy homework. FUCKERS. There’s only one reason to give a 5-year-old homework, and that’s to claim bragging rights. The school wants to show that it’s academically superior in the task of preparing your child for kindergarten.
You know what your child needs to know in order to be ready for kindergarten? Nothing. I mean, it’s nice if he knows the alphabet, some numbers, maybe a color or two — but hell, he can get that from watching Barney. No, the most important way to get a child ready for big kid school is to help him develop a Love of Learning. That’s the job of your preschool – to teach your boy that LEARNING IS FUN! and TEACHERS ARE COOL! and STAY AWAY FROM KIDS WITH HEAD LICE!
If your little pumpkin doesn’t get home until 4:30 pm, I’m assuming he has been in school for at least seven hours. By the time he gets home, HE IS MENTALLY DRAINED. Please, for the love of Socrates, the greatest teacher ever, DO NOT make him do homework! Let him dig in the dirt, play with his Barbies, watch television, help you make dinner, ANYTHING that he actually enjoys. Don’t worry about bad habits; loving life is his job right now, and that’s the main habit he needs to develop.
As for the homework itself, if he’s receptive to doing it later, great. If not, I would request a meeting with the teacher and say this: Listen, I sure appreciate all you do for little Bobby. We’re so lucky to have you as a teacher. But homework just isn’t on our priority list right now. Sometimes we’ll do it, and sometimes we won’t. I just want to make sure he isn’t made to feel delinquent when he doesn’t turn it in. I’m just not all that concerned with what he’s learning right now – he’s obviously bright – and I just want him to be happy, and to love school, and this is the best way I know how to do it. Okay? Thanks!! Also, what kind of Starbucks do you like? I’ll bring you one tomorrow!
If it makes your feel better, I had this same conversation with my son’s teacher not long ago – and my son is in second grade.
I’m sure there are all sorts of Type A parents who will disagree with me, and maybe their kids will get into better colleges than mine.
I. CARE. NOT. I advise you to care a little less, too. Love your kid for who he is, and not for the potential you want him to have. You’ll have a happier family that way, and believe me, your evenings will go much more smoothly.
the Savvy Sister