I've read a lot of different theories on sending homework home for young children. Some say it helps reinforce concepts taught at school and helps build responsibility. Some feel that homework should be spared in early learning. Students should play more, worry about school less.
Many of my students asked for homework to do with their siblings. One of the requirements of our Pre-K program is to build home school connections. I do send take home kits and library books, and newsletters, but it was suggested that homework was a good way to build home school connections. Since my students need parental guidance for homework anyway, I assign things that will help students and parents have fun together. Once a week or once every couple of weeks, I ask my students to find a picture in a magazine related to a theme, or read the library book they've chosen with their parents. Sometimes the homework is to ask parents a question and report back to school. During fire safety week, students were asked to help parents devise an escape plan in the event of an emergency. My homework is never graded, students who miss homework are never penalized. I know that if homework doesn't get done that families have other things going on.
I still agree that kids should be allowed to be kids as long as possible and there will be plenty of time in later years for the stack of homework to be completed, graded and returned. Okay, so I guess I am assigning homework. But it has a purpose and I hope it will give our families a chance to send a little quality time together.
Worksheetsand Coloring Books
Today I've read some great perspectives on what some folks are doing in their classrooms. I participated in a discussion earlier about the use of worksheets in the Early Childhood classroom. I stated that our Georgia PRE-K guidelines strongly prohibit the use of worksheets, duplicated material and coloring sheets. I do on the very slight occasion (maybe 2 times a year) send one home for homework.
Although I can't use them the way they are intended, but I find I can turn some of them into file folder games for independent practice---works great for some the cute Mailbox printables I've collected over the years.While I agree that there are so many more valuable experiences we can have our students doing, I know that my kids go on to public kindergarten where they do several worksheets per day. Sometimes I wonder if I am possibly doing a disservice to my students by not exposing them to this type of work. I do think they can be a good addition to a writing or art center, although my Pre-K consultant tells me I cannot use them there, either. I think it is kind of sad.
One of my favorite activities as a child was coloring with a good coloring book. My sisters and I could travel cross country and take nothing but a small doll and few coloring books and crayons. And, usually a big trip meant a new pack of crayons! I can remember how it felt to pull the first pointy crayon out of the box and put it to a crisp page of a new coloring book.
This year for Christmas, I gave each of my students a picture book and a crisp, new coloring/activity book. I guess I've got a little of the rebel still in me!
I have been teaching early childhood for about 20 years. I love what I do---it's the best job in the world!!! Where else can you go to work each day and do art, play games, have snack and get hugs regularly AND get paid for it?! I love to share ideas with other teachers and see what they are doing in their classrooms. Teaching is the best profession---we love to share!