I've had two conversations in recent days with parents of kindergarteners. One is a good friend who works in higher education who contacted me because her five-year-old daughter was in tears over her fear that she would get a bad grade on her reading group homework (not assigned by her kindergarten teacher but by a gifted-and-talented specialist). The other is a mom whose son is in my daughter's swimming class. He, last week over spring break, had to write a book report.
Hearing from the first mom about her daughter infuriated me. I don't believe in homework. I don't really believe in grades. Grading reading group homework for a kindergartener goes against everything I believe. It seems as though the intention is to shape a child who hates to read. I know this mom will follow up with this teacher about her concerns. I'll be curious to hear what happens.
The other mom was only mildly frustrated. Her son had not really had any homework all year (yea!). When I shared that there is no research to prove that homework is beneficial in elementary school she seemed visibly relieved. She shared with me that she had withheld some things that her son enjoys last week to get him to complete this book report. She was frustrated by having had to do so. I told her that is one of the reasons I don't believe in homework for kids so young.
Most teachers structure the school day so that kids are learning from the time they arrive until they leave. They get a break to eat lunch with their friends and maybe fifteen to twenty minutes to play at recess. Otherwise, they are working hard. Most adults don't spend that high a percentage of their working day working hard. Then they go home and do the things they enjoy, not work someone else has assigned to them. Why do we treat kids so differently?