Today I have links to two articles that I thought warranted further discussion. The first is about assigning kids homework that they can't complete without the help of a parent. (More on homework coming later this week.) The second is about the importance of play for young kids, and how we're "creating a white-collar child's workforce" by not allowing kids sufficient time in school for play.
Karol Markowicz: "(On having to help her daughter with homework:) She’s in kindergarten — why are we spending multiple hours on homework? More importantly, why am I? Shouldn’t any homework assigned to the child be limited to their independent abilities? You’d think that it would get easier as a child gets older and acquires more skills to do his or her own work, but, in fact, it only gets worse as the work gets harder... It’s time to end the insanity and leave parents out of the homework process. We already have our own homework — either work from our jobs, which continues long after official work hours are over, or housework, or any number of things adults have to do that shouldn’t involve glue sticks and cardboard."
Me: I've already experienced a tiny piece of this. My daughter had the option to participate in her school's science fair in Kindergarten (I believe that this will cease to be optional next year). She was initially excited - she likes the idea of science experiments - until we sat her down and explained what the requirements were (coming up with a hypothesis, etc.). I ended up very grateful that at least for this year the project was optional, because I didn't have time to even work with her to come up with a project, let alone do one. I believe strongly that kids should do their own homework. But what do you do when things are assigned that would be impossible for them to do on their own?
MaryAnne from Mama Smiles: "As parents and educators, we want to see the children in our lives achieve as much as possible. In our quest to give our children more, do we forget that play is what they need most?...We have a lifetime for reading and writing and structured skill-building, but only a few years to play like a child. We each get exactly one year to play as a one-year-old plays. One year to play as a two-year-old plays. One year to play as a three-year-old plays. One year to play as a five-year-old plays, and one year to play as a ten-year-old plays. Play changes so much throughout childhood. It’s easy to dismiss play, as “just play”, but children use playtime to discover critical life skills. Through play, children learn to express emotions. Through play, children learn to work through conflicts and fears. Through play, children experience joy. Through play, children discover what they love."
Me: MaryAnne's post captures so exactly what I've been struggling with myself as my daughter has started kindergarten. The initial seed for the post was a conversation that MaryAnne had with a kindergarten teacher about the students just wanting to play. Of course they just want to play! They are five year olds. In my daughter's classroom there is a play section filled with toys, but these are just artifacts from a kinder, gentler time. They are not used. There is too much "curriculum" to get through. Sigh. I'm just grateful that my daughter only has half day kindergarten. Please do go and read the full post. There are links to several books on the importance of play for kids, such as the one shown to the right.