Passionate About Genesee County
and the Moms Who Live Here

Why Does My Four-Year-Old Have Homework?

Recently, a friend was describing how horrible the homework routine is for her daughter. I nodded my head in complete understanding and said, “I know what you’re going through.” My friend said, “Yeah, Colton deals with this too, huh?” {Colton is my 17-year-old step-son}. I responded, “Oh no I’m talking about my four-year-old, Claire.” Claire is spunky, spontaneous, dramatic and artistic. I love to watch her creativity just pour out. It is amazing.

Here is what is not amazing. Homework. Especially for a 2, 3, or 4- year-old.

At first it seems innocent; color the picture, draw a circle….until I end up throwing her in the car seat on the way to school with a load of crayons, a pop tart, a clipboard with her homework and telling her that her teachers will be disappointed in her if she doesn’t finish it. No. No. No. Bad mom. I’m projecting my own “please everyone at any cost” baggage onto this innocent child who doesn’t want to color the apple red. What a way to send a kid off to school!

As she progresses in age and classes, so does the complexity of her homework assignments. Explaining the directions to Claire is frustrating. I feel like I’m herding cats, chasing her around the room, trying to stop play time. She sees a paper and just wants to color everything rainbow! YAY! And move on. Oh, how precious.

Meanwhile, I’m pleading with her:

  • “But Claire, please, the directions say to color only the pictures that end with the sound of the letter next to the picture.
  • “Please just do this!”

The week after the coloring debacle, she brought homework home that said to circle the picture that contained the short vowel “o”. Seriously. I went in and asked the teacher why on Earth a 4-year-old child needs to know short and long vowels. It is perplexing indeed!

It’s a shame that homework has become a part of many family’s daily routine, taking up hours of precious time. I know several parents whose children cry every night over completing homework. Some children do homework on family vacations or skip out on fun with their friends to complete their homework. So, what exactly is being taught? Are young children learning that homework is not fun, so learning isn’t either?

Here is what is scarier: we are arguably teaching kids that emotional intelligence, empathy, kindness, patience and understanding mean nothing – just win, win, win, score, score, score – at any cost. In my opinion, we are teaching that hours upon hours of memorization and advanced classes for advanced students will reap advanced careers, that they will have their own advanced children, and that is crucial to being successful. By memorizing every battle during the Civil War and all the Generals in charge of them, will my seventeen year old have a better understanding of why the Civil War happened and how that impacted our country? In my opinion, no.

Homework is a struggle. There must be some way to reinforce concepts learned in school, during school. Teachers out there, I admire and applaud you. I know you feel the frustration with homework too, but high test scores are valued. The finger is often pointed at teachers, but for no fault of your own. You are doing your job.

But if at this age, if my 4-year-old would rather paint, bake with me or play with her dolls and not do her homework, I support that. I will find ways to reinforce academic concepts with her at home. She’s got the rest of her life to do homework.

This is a late breaking bulletin: There are no parents with perfect kids, with perfect test scores, who become the perfect doctor, with the perfect spouse, with more perfect kids. No one is perfect and no amount of rote memorization makes them so.  I promise that a child not completing their homework has nothing to do with their desire to learn. It has everything to do with how they learn. And for some, especially for a four-year-old, homework doesn’t make the grade.

What are you feelings about homework?


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