Less Homework, More


Last week Archer came home with a piece of paper prepping parents for the teacher-student conferences soon to come. On the form, we were to pose questions, make comments, inquire within. But my questions were few. My comments non existence save for one: WHAT THE FUCK IS UP WITH ALL THE HOMEWORK? THIS IS PRESCHOOL, I MEAN, COME ON! YOU HAVE TO BE KIDDING ME! EVERY SINGLE NIGHT THIS KID HAS HOMEWORK? HE'S FOUR YEARS OLD, PEOPLE! HE'S FOUR YEARS OLD!

I was angry. Frustrated by the system and the man and the fact that my four-year-old son had homework. I didn't have homework in Preschool.

"Did I?"

"No way," my mom said. "And if you did, I wouldn't have made you do it because that's just insane. He's four."

"Right? I know! Thank you, mom. Exactly my point."

Not that my mom and I usually disagree. We pretty much share a brain and a soul but it felt good to hear that my mother was on my same page re: WTF?

I got off the phone with my mom and started asking friends with children in preschool if their kids had homework.

"Does your daughter have homework at your school?"

"How many hours does your preschooler spend writing lower case a(s) before bed?"

I asked and I fumed and I shook my fists at the sky. I googled and bing'd and wrote letters I never sent and told Archer he didn't *have* to do homework unless he wanted to because he was only four and what a crock!

"But mommy? I want to do my homework. I looooove homework."

"Don't worry Archer. You don't have to --- Wait, what?"

That was when I realized Archer had already done his homework. The entire pile. Three days early.

"I want more homework," he sighed. "It's so fun."

"Wait. Are you serious?"

Indeed, he was.

As it turned out, I was so busy building an army to fight homework in preschool! that I forgot to ask my own preschooler whether he minded the homework I was so vehemently against.

"Yeah, mommy. It's fun!"

"Oh. Really? Oh. Whoa. Oh. Oh. Huh. Oh."

Fast forward to yesterday, when once again, Archer came home with a stack of homework to do over the next week, and once again he did it all in one sitting. Because he wanted to. Because "he loved it." Because "I'd rather do homework than play with my toys!"

Hal and I used to joke that our child, the product of two crazy bohemian whack-job head-in-the-clouds fuck-the-man! artisticles would most likely rebel against us and grow up to be a rule-abiding CPA.

Apparently we weren't kidding.

Not that Archer's necessarily going to be an accountant when he grows up, but the kid's certainly full of surprises. And a backpack full of homework that he "can't wait to go home and finish!"

Which is totally awesome and rad and fine with us, obviously. But made for quite the awkward parent-teacher conference this afternoon.

"So, Ms. Woolf, I understand you're quite upset about Archer's homework situation."

"Yeah (ahem!) about that. I was just kidding. What I really meant to say was that I think there should be MORE homework. Is there any way you can send him home with more?"

"Wait. Are you serious?"

Indeed, I was.

GGC

36 comments:

Single Mom Seeking | 4:36 PM

So classic. I just had our parent-teacher conference today and this hit home. Love it.

Emily | 5:00 PM

We joke that our first child is going to grow up and rebel and turn into Alex P Keaton.

At least Archer is a self-starter. That's awesome!

Amy | 5:00 PM

You are not alone. I was PISSED when I got monthly homework packets for my kindergartener, since she's FIVE and WTF!!!!! And she wants more to do...... I plan to take video, for when she is 13, and hates homework, us, and the establishment. :)

Melinda | 5:01 PM

You are very lucky to have a son who willingly, if not lovingly, does his homework. My son is not yet old enough for school, but I still remember the fits my brother would throw over his homework. Oh my the horror.

Lola | 5:10 PM

If there is too much homework, I start to wonder what they actually DO all day in class.....

LucyCooper | 5:12 PM

Love it! What a diligent little guy. My six year-old son has a thing right now of "only learning books," and not just stories. Awesome, and kind of tickles me when I beg, "Please, please, can we read Edwurd Fudwupper?" I love my little nerd.

Alex | 6:10 PM

It's awesome that he loves it...

Just for the record, I HATE grade 3 homework! I can't remember what half that crap is...parrallelagram...see can't even spell it...

AVB | 6:12 PM

Wow. Homework more than toys?! Can you please send Archer to New York? I have some paperwork he might enjoy doing. And, in his spare time, can he start my taxes? I'm happy to FedEx my receipts to him.

Seriously though, that is awesome. I hope it lasts!

xo

mrs.notouching | 6:20 PM

I love Archer. He is just fascinating. A 4-year-old who loves homework - this should be CNN breaking news, people.

Jen | 6:33 PM

I am a CPA and I would balk at homework given to a 4 year old too. But I guess if he likes it? It still seems, erm, excessive.

Issas Crazy World | 6:55 PM

Welcome to my weird world. My nearly eight year old makes her own math times tests. For fun. No joke.

Baby in Broad | 8:15 PM

That's...awesome? I mean, that's awesome! He loves his homework, but...I still can't get over having homework in preschool. Isn't preschool about learning things like sitting in a circle on the floor and taking turns? Lower-case A is for first-graders!

So, yeah. Go, Archer!

tlh | 10:06 PM

Love what Lola sd! I agree, what are they doing AT SCHOOL? My 15 year old daughter has 3-4 hrs of homework a night. It's crazy. Love Archer's positive outlook! xoxo

Little Miss Moi | 1:52 AM

Rebecca, if you can, get your hands on a copy of a movie called "The Rage in Placid Lake". Starring Ben Lee and Rose Byrne (it's an Aussie film).

After reading this post, I'm sure you'll totally relate!

Miz Kizzle | 6:14 AM

Preschoolers like homework; it makes them feel like big kids in "real school." THey're still at the stage when homework is a novelty and it CAN be fun if it's done with the right approach.
My kids' early homework came in the form of mazes and puzzles and easy activities like counting all the doors and windows in their house and writing down the total. Back at school there would be a discussion of the different kinds of houses. It didn't take much time and the kids enjoyed it.
Later, when they started at a very good private day school, they were ready for more challenging homework. Some parents were lobbying for eliminating gym in order to have time for more math classes! Given that kind of environment it's good to have a kid who likes homework.

casadekaloi | 6:28 AM

Wooooooooow oh wow. Wow. I can't believe that A) they have SO much homework, and B) he loves it!

We're hoping/planning to unschool Jazz, but now..hmmm.

Alyxherself | 7:01 AM

Archer is a very neat kid with his own definate ideas and opinions...now that he gets from you:) Having those opinions differf rom yours is what makes him unique right?
i introduce my son Wilson as a "moderate Republican" haha, who would be conservative were it not for his bohemian mother balancing him out. But now he's goingon 10 and i have to stop cause i don't want to influence him.

loves you becca.

Kerry | 7:33 AM

Just a great read for a Saturday afternoon! Thanks.

Jolie | 8:16 AM

Oh my hell Emily!!! That is so funny! I so relate to this subject! I am a free spirit sinner with an open mind and mouth. I seriously thought my kids would be in eternal detention. And they would have to say, "I learned it from watching my mom!"
Totally the opposite~straight A's, sweet, almost nerdy, and well mannered. I am thankfully perplexed by the outcome.
Regarding homework in pre-school: I think it seems wonderful that a young child can show interest and dedication, but we need to encourage them to be children.....they are this age ONCE. I have regrets for letting my proud momma come out in me, and not really acknowledging that my son might need me to take control of the situation.....tell him that he will have plenty of years to devour this stuff.....now, go play with your playdough and skateboard :)

Rebecca | 1:37 PM

My daughter is four years old too and goes to school for just thirty minutes one day a week to get a therapy session. Anyway, she comes home with two worksheets to do for homework. I love doing it with her, but I'm hopeless. I loved school (once I got to college).

amyinbc | 6:16 PM

Good for Archer :)

I do feel sorry for all those other kids and parents though. Plenty of time for homework when they are OLDER!

Ray | 6:22 PM

"I want more homework," he sighed. "It's so fun."

^^Archer's so freakin' cute! Sigh. ;D You have an awesome little boy. ^o^

EdenSky | 8:27 PM

Grade one homework is fun for no one! We have to read the same book every night for a week, giving the kid more responsibility each night until Friday when they can either read it themselves or at least repeat it verbatim thanks to the mindless repitition. It would be OK if the books were real stories instead of "Feet" and "Hair"
My daughter reads the books to me on the first night and then writes things like:

Why can't I read book that's written properly? Why wouldn't you just say 'I wear socks to keep my feet warm.' instead of 'I wear socks. I keep my feet warm.' And who cares about feet anyway?"

In her reading journal.

There is a lot of whining at homework time in this house...from all of us.

Renee | 8:37 PM

Don't get me started on the homework for little kids. It drives me insane! I don't even have a child in school yet, and she knows what it is. She's two and is all, "when I go to school I'll come home and have homework to do and books to read."

ARE YOU KIDDING ME!?

Anonymous | 7:54 PM

I would not be pleased if my 4 year old came home with homework, but it is great that Archer likes it! I work as a teacher, and I feel a lot of pressure from parents and administration to assign homework. I don't even think that a lot of it is necessary. The school day is long enough, after school should be all about playing! Also, just so you know it is super annoying to get asked for extra homework. You can find books at any bookstore that Archer can work through and they will have great pictures.

GIRL'S GONE CHILD | 8:00 PM

Totally. I'm about as anti-homework as they come, trust me. I don't believe in it AT ALL. Especially in Elementary School (seriously, WTF?)

... We actually went out and bought a grip of "Homework Books" for Archer this weekend with worksheets and various homeworky things and he loves it. For now.

Sharnanigans | 8:34 PM

its great he likes it but I still think it sucks they give it to him??

Meemo | 11:30 PM

Don't worry, his love for homework will be a thing of the past by 4th grade.

That's when my kids started getting homework. They never had any before that. I hate it when my 6th grader has 8th grade Algebra homework. I'm clueless.

Hilary (Adventures from 14 Maple) | 4:33 AM

When I first saw what the topic of this entry was, I was going to comment that when I was little I LOVED homework. I used to finish mine in record time, and then stare longingly at my sister's pile as she worked her way through addition and cursive. I just used to feel so grown up. I love that he loves his special assignments! What a smartypants! Maybe someday he'll grow up to deliver babies too!

Lara | 6:54 AM

I don't know. The point of homework is to reinforce the things you learned while you were at school. I mean, it's one thing to do something in the classroom, with the teacher's supervision, but once you get home and you try it on your own, it's a whole different thing. That's how you get it to STICK.

That said, there's a difference between some quick practice to reinforce learning and BUSY WORK.

Our boys didn't and don't have homework in pre-school. Elias had very limited homework in Kindergarten. Now that he's in first grade, he has nightly homework mon-thurs, but it's pretty manageable. I would have been up in arms too, but I think it's pretty cool that Archer actually likes it! Embrace that as long as it lasts!!!

Ameya | 7:35 AM

Your kid is nuts ;D

But honestly (and i wish i had the links) schools are getting a LOT of flak for having homework that early, and many are trying to ban it. Turns out that the studies say that it actually does more HARM than good for most kids. Not to mention all the time it takes away from the things they should be doing at that developmental stage.

But obviously if Archer likes it, than it's not doing him any harm! I remember telling the teachers that homework was stupid & i could be doing more productive things in elementary school. Sure enough, i really didn't do any homework until college! haha..

Rebecca | 10:52 AM

Wow, I totally had the same reaction when I started reading your post. Homework in preschool???

But reading about how much he likes it made me think a bit. As a teacher, I've read a lot of research that says children decide whether or not they are interested in school by they time they are in second grade. Now, I know you are sort of an anti-school person, and I certainly don't blame you (I still can't believe I decided to be a teacher) but fostering a love of learning and a love of school at such a young age is going to be important later on. Not because how well you do in school determines how well you do in life, but because how well you do in school gives you even more options for all the awesome things you could do later on. Basically I'm just saying it won't hurt, but of course it's a good idea to make sure he knows that you learn the really important stuff through life experiences, not just school, and of course I know you will teach him that.

Piece of Work | 6:42 PM

I work in as an aide in a kindergarten class, and we give the kids homework--about 15 minutes or so a day. FOr some kids, obviously, it goes a lot quicker, and for some it takes longer. HOnestly, some of the kids REALLY need the practice, or they will keep falling behind. Unfortunately, those are the ones that seem to have the parents who have different "philosophies" about homework. It's a shame, because it's hurting those kids in the long run, and it's only 15-20 minutes a day--time that would REALLY help!
I've never heard of homework in preschool though.
I will say that both my kids loved doing workbooks in preschool though--my mom bought some for us, which I planned to stick at the bottom of the coloring book stack, but the kids liked them, and got excited about doing the work. It made them feel competent, and grown-up. My daughter got tired of it pretty fast but my son (a first grader now) still loves doing homework of any kind--especially if it is something that older kids usually do.

I understand that hours of homework every day is excessive but I think 15 minutes a day is an achievable goal for any family, and it teaches the kids good study habits, which they'll need forever.

sxia | 2:07 PM

Hey, just to give you a little "Amen" here, my daughter is 3 and goes to preschool in Burbank. We went on vacation for a week and they sent her a packet of worksheets to do. I was like, "Whatever. You can do one if you want to. You're three. You don't have to worry about homework."
Now they send homework twice a week. I was about to rebel when little Blue Eyes looked at me and said, "Mommy! I got HOMEWORK today!" She was so excited about it and will do it as soon as she gets home because it is her favorite thing to do. I hope this lasts till she's in high school, but somehow I doubt it.

(And also, I'm a bit selfish, but when I get home at 7:00 pm, the last thing I want to do is watch her do home work. I want to play!)

mpotter | 12:59 PM

god it is a huge shame that we're pushing these kids so young.
glad he loves homework.... now.
you see, he is only four!

at least you've documented this for future reference when he's refusing to do homework because he hates it and always has!

(i'm the dork who loved doing my phonics workbook in 3rd grade and got in trouble b/c i finished it way early)

jen | 4:29 PM

My daughter only had to read a book everynight last year in pre-k. But this year in kindergarten, she has more. But she loves it, too. And i am going to let her continue to love it as long as she will. ha.