It’s no secret that I have had issues with kindergarten homework. Last fall, I got scolded by the teacher for not making my daughter follow directions and color.
(You can read the sordid details here.)
But it’s May now and my 6-year-old daughter and I have found our groove when it comes to kindergarten homework. I think it’s crazy for a kindergartner to have so much homework (6+ worksheets/week), but I’m not blaming the teacher necessarily. It’s just the world we live in and the high expectations now placed on our littlest learners.
That said, last week I realized that my daughter — my lovely, say-what-she-feels daughter — had been broken by kindergarten.
One worksheet was returned to us for correction.
The instructions were:
And the words had been:
Sydney had written the words in each sentence correctly (i.e., “The dog is yellow.”) and she colored the pictures. She’s not big on coloring coloring when it pertains to homework, but has been coloring these worksheets with pencil since the Fall when we were put on the non-coloring watch list.
So why was the paper returned?
Because she hadn’t colored the picture in the same color of the word (i.e., the teacher wanted the dog colored yellow to match the sentence “The dog is yellow.”)
But the directions don’t say that. They just say color the picture. Like I said, she’s been coloring these worksheets with her pencil since Fall 2012 when we forced into mandatory coloring. Plus, what color matches the word “for“? And are you telling me that some poor classmate probably colored the dog brown and got the worksheet returned for non-compliance? Hmph.
“We’re not doing that,” I told Sydney. “That’s silly. And, she’ll never care that we don’t send it back.” (They do not get letter grades in Kindergarten.)
“Mommy, nooooooo. We have to. Mrs. Teacher is going to get mad.”
“No, she’s not. Let’s not do this. You colored it. You’re fine.”
“Mommy, nooooo. I’ll do it. I’ll do it!”
And that’s when I realized she had been broken. Almost military-style. She didn’t care that technically we were right. She didn’t care that I was telling her not to do it. She was feeling the pressure to listen to her teacher and do what her teacher said.
So she colored. In matching color.
And then she turned it back in.
And, I think, she lost a little bit of that spark, that individuality, that is soooo her.
And that I will mourn.
You won this battle, kindergarten. But I will win the war for my daughter. Or go down trying.
Note: Last Fall when I published my post Rage Against the Kindergarten Machine, I got my first hate mail. If you are so inclined to pass judgment on me and my horrible parenting skills, remember two things. One, I have control over the publish/delete button for all comments. Two, there’s a reason this site is called Experienced **BAD** Mom. I’m not claiming to be perfect, people.
Oh boy! My son is starting kindergarten in the fall and im dreading it. Hes in PreK now and the homework is ridiculous. School is so much different now then when I was in school.
It’s even different than 4 years ago when my son was in kindergarten in the same school district!
Rabia @ TheLiebers says
I’m sorry! I’ll bet she hasn’t really lost her spark. Maybe just a teeny tiny little corner of it. She’ll get it back over the summer. My son has done pretty well in Kindergarten, but he’s got a teacher who understands his spunk. And the needs of five-year old boys!!
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Yes, I was a bit dramatic. But I’m sensitive about it because feel like I was the good girl in school who always listened to her teachers and did what they wanted and that doesn’t necessarily work to my advantage in the working/real world.
Jillian Mak says
It is so frustrating to me that school is no longer fun. Everything is about dittos and tests. I’m sorry your daughter had to go through that.
Thanks. Her teacher has been wonderful in so many ways, but I think sending the worksheet home to color in matching colors was a bit over the top!
The expectations that they are putting on kids nowadays is ridiculous. It said color – not color to match the sentence. And I bet if she thinks outside of the box for another assignment she’s chastised for not following the directions…Kindergarten is no longer fun
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Krystal, thank you for validating what I was thinking, too!
I agree with you Momma Bear. Feels icky. But that’s just one teacher out of many… But (get ready for the spin) two skills this will help the Cub hone are: 1) being respectful of another person whose opinion is clearly so inferior to one’s own, 2) navigating a lifetime of authority figures with different strengths (weaknesses) and temperaments … skills I admit to needing to work on myself. Just keep talking with her / showing her what YOUR family values, and she’ll carry that into battle. Sometimes she’ll chose to jump through the hoops, sometimes she’ll cut ’em down. 🙂
Katy @ Experienced Bad Mom says
Thanks, Darcy! I like your last sentence. I’m ready to guide her through this thing called life!
Katy @ Experienced Bad Mom recently posted…The Day That Kindergarten Broke My Daughter
Chris Carter says
Perhaps you can look at it a different way… she is learning about rules and following them. And she is learning that even though sometimes the rules are far from ‘right’- she needs to following them anyway, so long as it doesn’t interfere with her character, morals integrity etc. There are ridiculous expectations in this world, but we have to play the game because that is the cruel reality of it all.
With that said- I totally get what you did and why you did it! I also get that it changed her. But perhaps it improved her ability to respect authority and have a self drive that will surely be an asset in future coursework expectations and later business opportunities. Does that make sense? She has become aware of her gifts and her uniqueness, but has also matured to realize that she needs to sometimes contour it to fit the standard.
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Katy @ Experienced Bad Mom says
Thanks for your thoughtful comments, Chris. I do get what you’re saying. The positive from this is her ability to respect authority and go with her drive to follow her teacher rather than to just please mommy.
Katy @ Experienced Bad Mom recently posted…The Day That Kindergarten Broke My Daughter
As a former kindergarten teacher, I agree that kindergarten has become too intense. I also do not like homework in kindergarten and only gave it optionally because believe or not many parents WANTED it and made me feel like a bad teacher for not giving it! Crazy, I know.
That being said, the teacher doesn’t just blindly give homework (as many suggested in the comments). The teacher had a plan and purpose. She probably had to write the objective of the homework in her lesson plans.
A very important skill in late kindergarten is reading comprehension. If your daughter wrote “The dog is yellow” and colored the dog blue, then it shows she wasn’t making a literary connection. Your daughter’s teacher was trying to teach her to be a good reader not trying to squash her creativity.
The teacher-parent relationship should be more like a mom-dad relationship. A united front. Telling your daughter not to do something the teacher has told her to do sends the child a confusing message. I believe it’s best for the child if the parent says, “Let me discuss this with your teacher and see if we can work something out.” Then take your issue to the teacher. When you tell your child “the teacher will never know” “those are stupid directions”, etc. you undermine the teacher’s authority and teach your daughter it’s ok to disrespect authority.
I’m not saying a child should never question authority. I’m saying they should be taught to question respectfully.
Honestly, I would have been ticked as a teacher if a parent had written that their child just didn’t want to do something at the top of a page. I would have thought “Soooo now we just let kids do what they want all time? What’s next candy bars for lunch everyday???” BUT if you had come to me with your valid concern, then change mind have ensued. It might have caused me look at how I do things and change my practices.
Teachers are reasonable people (for the most part). Go to them with concerns and please don’t undermine their authority or accuse them of only creating busy work. Talk to them, for heaven’s sake, and create a partnership. It’s in the best interest of your child to do so!
Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Julie. I particularly like the emphasis on communicating with your child’s teacher and being a united front.
Not Winning Mom of the Year says
WHAT THE HELL? I’m sorry but you are a waaaaaayyyyy better person than I because I would have taken that returned “homework” back and asked for a personal explanation. In fact, what is with six pages of homework a week? Is your daughter getting her PHd at the end of June? And who is this teacher, power tripping all year long on coloring? Is she Picaso or something? I think you are doing well, and I am sure she hasn’t lost her spark, but I believe a lot of parents are thinking the same thing you are, but no one is piping up to call this teacher out. Learning is suppose to be fun, it saddens me to think this teacher has so much power to instill fun learning in these kids for years to come, but she’d rather make it a bad experience at five years old? This impression and association with carry on throughout all these children’s school careers. Shame on your kindergarten teacher. Shame on her bringing her own childhood shit to school and taking it our in her career and these poor children.
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Well, I guess you are ahead of me because stopping the madness and just asking for some clarification on the madness seems like a good idea looking back!
I am also not a fan of homework for kindergarten – luckily my child loves doing it, but I dread my next child. He will not be the same way.
I’ve also been told that first grade has a lot more homework (actually, I was warned while discussing that my child does not have a 100% in homework return). I do not see this going well in the long term, especially since I know for a fact that the higher grades assign almost none. It’s a philosophical argument in the district and we’re just caught in the middle.
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My oldest was in Kindergarten 4 years ago and had 1 math worksheet per week. Sad that 4 years later my daughter has 1 math worksheet plus so much else!
I am a kindergarten teacher and agree with a no homework policy.( I only send reading books home once a week.) I even have a problem with the amount of seat work I am required to give during reading groups. Most children are able to finish, but the ones that don’t are required to stay in at noon recess to finish. The one redeeming factor in my situation is that our afternoons are very laid back, so the children can play, experience art, and have free time. I love my students, but fear that their childhood is being taken away due to high expectations of perfection according to others’ requirements. Each child is different and should be allowed to mature at their own pace. (Secret: I home schooled my own children for 20 years.) That being said, I love my school and have seen tremendous growth in my own child since enrolling him here when I accepted the job. I trust that God has led us here and will do my best to encourage my children to do their best. Thanks for listening.
Thank you for your thoughtful comment. I love hearing from readers and it sounds like your classroom is one that I would want my kids to be in!
I know I’m late to the game but just came across this. My son had a horrible I mean HORRIBLE Kindergarten teacher. It started with us telling the school we are our concerns about my son’s development. His kindergarten teacher constantly lectured me in front of other students and parents about how I wasn’t disciplining my son and how we need to work with him at home more….a few months later no progress and then the light bulb finally went off in her tiny brain that maybe just maybe there might be something wrong with my son. Meanwhile he was being bullied and would cry about how he didn’t want to go to school. The teacher of course denied he was being bullied despite my personally witnessing it. In the end he was moved to special ed classes and that was the best thing. He blossomed no longer cried about going to school and didn’t feel the pressure of being “different” also his teacher never ever speaks to me in front of other parents or students about things that are wrong with my son. She focuses on what he can do not what he can’t do. Some people seriously shouldn’t be teachers and my sons old kindergarten teacher is one of them.