Yesterday I carried a box into my son’s kindergarten classroom; it was his share day.
I noticed a pile of completed homework packets on the teacher’s desk, and immediately thought, “People actually do those things?”
Because I don’t make my son do his.
And for my daughter, who is in first grade, I don’t make her do her homework either.
As an educator, maybe I should be more likely to make my own children do that work, but I also know, as an educator, that it’s not the best use of their after school time.
I flip through the packets and if there’s something I know they need to practice, we might work on it together.
But they are already bringing home stacks of papers each week, and a great many worksheets they complete in class. So why would I want them to come home and spend even more time filling out worksheets? We know that’s not how kids learn best.
My daughter came home last week, so excited, saying, “Our work packet this week only has nine pages! That’s so much better than last week when we had 22!”
I don’t know if she was right about the amount of work, but what struck me is that what I really want my child coming home from school all excited about is what she’s actually learning.
At home they do practice skills, but in an organic, relevant way. Making cookies? Let’s talk about how to measure. Want to buy something at the store? Let’s count how much money you have. Do you need to wear a coat today? Let’s check the temperature. Wondering what kind of bug that is? Let’s Google it.
We Google a lot of things. I’m pretty sure my kids think Google is the source of all knowledge.
And at home we read. Not enough, I’ll admit. This is one area I’ve slacked off on this year, even though I know how important reading at home is.
But the school year is wrapping up. We won’t be completing any of the remaining homework packets.
I don’t know if my approach is the right one to take. I want my kids to understand the value of getting their work done and of being respectful of what their teachers ask them to do. And I want them to get practice on the skills they really need to practice. But I also want them to connect those skills to real life, and – just as importantly – to have time to play, to be outside, to do kid stuff.
Not to fill in more worksheets.