Scroll through your Facebook feed on any given weeknight and you’re sure to find an entertaining array of amusing homework related complaints. Someone’s son didn’t do it. A dog ate it. For real! The preschooler doesn’t like it.
Homework in preschool? Yes ma’am. It’s becoming more commonplace to see young kids swamped with homework before they reach grammar school. Neither of my kids are enrolled in preschool at the moment but the time is rapidly approaching. Quite frankly I’m scared.
Family life is hectic enough without the addition of homework for kids who can barely tie their shoes. I don’t know what our lives will look like when my kids are in preschool but I’m guessing its going to resemble a circus. They’re fourteen months apart and will most likely be enrolled at the same time. Will they have similar homework? Will they attend the same school? Will I return to working outside of the home full time? Will my husband and I have to rush home from work and sacrifice quality family time for homework and worksheets?
The thought of it fills me with anxiety. I can’t imagine what it’s like for the families who are living this reality. On the surface it might sound like I’m dramatic but I’m not alone. A post I read on the New York Times popular Motherlode blog debated the issue. Some parents aren’t happy with forcing their young children to complete the required homework but don’t feel comfortable confronting their children’s schools. Add the terrifying prospect of your child falling behind his or her peers and the social pressure to give into the early academic frenzy intensifies.
What are we supposed to do?
I’ve struggled with this question as a stay at home mom. Should I be teaching these kids Mandarin? Is it okay that my three year old isn’t reading? His father was reading at this age. I don’t know what the right answer is. I follow my instincts and my children’s lead and guide them when they show interest in learning.
I’ve learned the hard way that trying to force young kids into any sort of educational activity that they aren’t interested in will lead to frustration for everyone involved. It’s not worth it. They’re only little once and I want to enjoy every moment I have at home with them. I won’t spend a second watching my son cry out of frustration because he can’t yet hold a pencil properly. There’s time to learn. Why rush?
In France there have been talks of abolishing homework for a variety of reasons but in America it seems that the answer is always more. More homework, baby can read, summer math camps, SAT vocabulary flashcards, and anything else you can think of. We’re always looking for a competitive advantage even when data suggests that it’s detrimental to the well-being of our kids.
It’s a cycle. If all the kids are doing homework in preschool shouldn’t ours too? We don’t want our child left behind. It’s hard to stand apart from the pack but in this case it might make the most sense. Children learn by playing and kids need stress free quality time with their families. There are only so many hours in a day. How are they best spent?
What do you think about the preschool homework trend?
Veronica Armstrong is a photographer, blogger, and freelance writer whose stories spring from the cinderblock walls of her married graduate student apartment. You can find her on Google+ or see more of her writing and photography on her blog.