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Homework and Preschoolers, Plus Week in Review

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Dear Elizabeth,
Should my preschooler be doing homework?
Elizabeth's Tips
Elizabeth Sanchez
Elizabeth Sanchez
Host
  • Traditional "homework" (such as worksheets) offers little value for preschoolers
  • Appropriate homework offers children hands-on learning experiences
  • Expand the learning in preschool by providing related experiences, such as neighborhood field trips and outdoor play
  • Most important to instill a love of learning in children at this age
Week in Review
Don’t forget about the great things that we learned this week:
Expert Advice
Michelle Moen
Michelle Moen
Instructor, Early Childhood
“Homework”
There are a variety of ways to have homework—the school type, whereby there are actual worksheets or projects, or ways that what is being done in school can be extended at home through parent ideas, activities, or experiences.

Myself along with my colleagues, and research shows that homework has little value and is actually detrimental for children under the age of five. That’s because it’s so abstract for kids. A piece of paper to do problems is not the ideal way for children to learn at this age. Young kids needs to hold things in their hands in order for them to understand something. It needs to be tangible, and their brain isn’t ready for that kind of abstract thinking. The idea should be about the whole element of play, kids need unstructured time to play, and through play, they’re developing skills for school.

Appropriate “Homework” for a Preschooler
There are things you can do to supplement the learning they’re receiving in preschool or at a home provider’s house. By talking to them, and taking them on trips to the museum, to the library, this reinforces the learning. Also, kids need to go to the park, play outdoors on the playground, and have many social opportunities to grow physically. Playing games at home, and singing with your child is the way to help them learn many concepts.

Ready to Learn
Of all the kindergarten teachers I’ve worked with, most of them say they want the child coming in who wants to learn, is excited about learning, and has fine motor skills which can be helped by doing something as simple as playing with clay. Kindergartener teachers never ask if they have a sense of letters, or can write his name. Instead, they hope the child has social skills, can control their emotions, and can interact with others – the academic stuff will come later. Those kids who are encouraged to learn through play in the early years research shows will have a love of learning, so that naturally, things will connect as they progress.

What Parents Can Do at Home
Parents can get their kids ready for elementary school by doing a variety of activities. Help them with parts of their body, read to them, sing to them, have them help you set table and talk about manners, work with them on their social skills. Teachers want preschooler’s to have readiness skills, like emotional skills, that they can talk about feelings. It’s also important for parents to respect their child, and show the child that you value their opinions and their individuality.

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Topic: Child Development
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Resources
The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC)
The End of Homework: How Homework Disrupts Families, Overburdens Children, and Limits Learning by Etta Kralovec and John Buell
The Homework Myth: Why Our Kids Get Too Much of a Bad Thing by Alfie Kohn
The Case Against Homework: How Homework Is Hurting Children and What Parents Can Do About It by Sara Bennett and Nancy Kalish
 
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