Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Homework Starts Next Week

I plan to begin sending homework home beginning on Monday.

For those of you who've already been through kindergarten with me, it will be much the same as in years before. Kindergarten homework will span the curriculum, but with emphasis on applied math skills and science investigations. Kindergarten homework usually involves the collaboration of a parent.

Former students have told me about their fond memories of kindergarten homework.

Because of this blog, this year may be the best ever. You can read about the homework assignments on this blog and use the comment section to share your experiences. Sometimes the students will be encouraged to post a comment. From time to time we may ask you to email me digital photos. If you don't already have a digital camera, this might be a good time to consider getting one. (For those without computers at home, I plan to also have homework on paper.)

As in years past, homework is not graded and is optional.

Homework in kindergarten should be an occasion for fun and learning and serve as an opportunity to bring you and your kids closer. If any kindergarten homework assignment feels like a battleground of frustration and resistance, please don't do it. Sleep the computer or toss the homework paper in the wastepaper basket and go get an ice cream cone.

No stress, no worries.

16 comments:

Culmom37 said...

Wow...I have never EVER heard a teacher say that homework is optional! Belle is actually very excited about the idea of homework so I hope to act on that enthusiasm and make it a positve experience.

When my son, Connor, was in Kindergarten at another school I was utterly amazed at the amount of homework he had each day; at least 25 minutes. It was not terribly difficult, but rather time consuming which made for a very unpleasant experience. He got through it, but I found it rather unnecessary at such a young age.

Kids need to be kids and that is often forgotten these days. Thankfully Mr. Gurney understands and knows what our kids need...so...THANK YOU!

Sara Bennett said...

I am the co-author of The Case Against Homework and am the founder of Stop Homework, a project devoted to changing homework practice and policy that is affiliated with The Alliance for Childhood. In addition, I run stophomework.com

I'm very happy to see that you make your homework assignments optional, but I'm wondering whether you've considered not assigning homework at all. If your kindergarten class is anything like most other K classes in the country, your students already don't have enough time for imaginative play. At the end of the school day, they need to go home and play, interact with their families, run around, and get some sleep. They don't need homework, especially since the research shows no correlation between homework and academic achievement in the early elementary years.

Young children love to learn. Homework almost always takes away that joy.

I'd love to hear your thought, either here, or in the forums at stophomework.com.

hmartin said...

Hailey has been wanting homework since she started school so we are very excited about this opportunity...as usual, you are right on the money by leaving this optional with no forced fun. It allows kids that want to do more to do it, and those that don't, get to run free. It's a wonderful approach...Go Gurney Go.

Dan Gurney, Mr. Kindergarten said...

Culmom37, thanks for commenting! It's encouraging to blog and get some response. I hope you'll inspire others to follow your lead. As for homework, I am confident that Belle's experience will be different from Connor's. If she feels that it's not necessary, she can simply not do it. You may spend about the same amount of time, but it should be fun to do. That's what I'm aiming for, anyway.

Sara, thanks for chiming in. I hope you'll swing by the blog next week and have a look at what we're doing. For the record, we've gotten nearly 2/3 of the way through the kindergarten year without formal assigned homework. Some of the homework I'll be assigning will engage the imagination and involve running around. I am completely on board with you about the need to protect and enhance childhood. If I were to do away with something that threatens childhood I'd start with TV. Most of all, homework will involve parent and child working together. Take the word "homework" apart "Home" and "Work" and think of work in the sense of doing what it's supposed to do, as in "The repairman got the dishwasher WORKING again." That's my ideal kind of homework: activities that make the home work for the kid.

Heidi, Hailey's going to like the homework. I know you've been asking when it would start. Well not too long to wait now. Till Monday. Thanks for chiming in!

MommieRose said...

This was fun. Kiyana has also been waiting for homework since before school started. Many times she will set herself up at the kitchen table with markers, white paper, pens, crayons, and anything else she thinks is associated with homework. She will wright page after page of numbers, names, orders, assignments for others and anything she feels is important. Its been really fun to watch. It always seems like afterwards we have more assignments then she did, but its all fun.

She was really excited about the homework and jumped onto completing it as soon as we got home. She was crushed when the calculator didn't match her carefully calculated answer at the end. But a little coaxing and she recounted (3 times) and got the right answer. She was very proud of doing the "her very important math homework" and also figuring out how to work a calculator. Thanks!

MommieRose said...

Okay so I couldn't really figure out how she was supposed to share her answer online. But I told her that she could so I guess I'm posting it here. If there is another place could someone let me know, I'm brand spanking new to blogging :o)

KIYANA:
i have 42 rectangles. i did my homework i like school mr.gurney.

Dan Gurney, Mr. Kindergarten said...

Kiyana,

I'll try to do better next time and put the homework for the day up on the newsletter. That way you can comment right there. Thanks for doing such a thorough job on the homework.

Best,

Mr. Gurney

Sara Bennett said...

Sorry it took me so long to get back here. From what I can see of your classroom work, you seem like a fantastic teacher. But, no matter how you put it--"homework" or "home work"--there is still no research that shows any value in kindergarten homework. So I still have the same question: why assign it? As long as you assign it, whether it's optional or not, most parents think there's an educational reason for it. So it's the rare parent who will opt out.

Sara Bennett said...

Sorry it took me so long to get back here. From what I can see of your classroom work, you seem like a fantastic teacher. But, no matter how you put it--"homework" or "home work"--there is still no research that shows any value in kindergarten homework. So I still have the same question: why assign it? As long as you assign it, whether it's optional or not, most parents think there's an educational reason for it. So it's the rare parent who will opt out.

Dan Gurney, Mr. Kindergarten said...

Sara,

I don't have research backing everything I do. Heaven help me if I relied on some research study before doing things. I wouldn't get much done. Plus, research isn't always cut and dried. It's only as good as the integrity of the researcher and the quality of the questions and the work.

Research or no research, parents really want homework. Who am I to deny their interest in having some homework?

It's work for me to come up with things to do at home, but I get lots of positive feedback. And I have an out: if you don't want to do it, no problem.

Sara Bennett said...

As I originally said, I'm glad your assignments are optional. But I still think that parents could use a little guidance from teachers/educators and you're obviously a thoughtful one. My guess is that the parents of your students think, "If Mr. Kindergarten takes the time to come up with homework and assigns it, then I should make my kids do it." But if you said instead, "I'm not assigning homework because I'm sure however you spend your time after school with your children is worthwhile," then the parents would trust their parenting instincts a little more, stop worrying so much about their kids' futures, and stop and let their kids be kids. There's a wonderful new book out on this very subject, "Under Pressure: Rescuing Our Children from the Culture of Hyper-Parenting" by Carl Honore.

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Dan Gurney said...

Hi thesis, thanks for saying so. I do plan to write some more posts of interest. Watch for posts labelled "Kindergarten Keys."

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