Sunday, May 03, 2009

Homework for 5 year olds?

Instead of digging in sandboxes, today’s kindergartners prepare for a life of multiple-choice boxes by plowing through standardized tests with cuddly names like Dibels (pronounced “dibbles”), a series of early-literacy measures administered to millions of kids; or toiling over reading curricula like Open Court — which features assessments every six weeks.

According to “Crisis in the Kindergarten,” a report recently released by the Alliance for Childhood, a nonprofit research and advocacy group, all that testing is wasted: it neither predicts nor improves young children’s educational outcomes. More disturbing, along with other academic demands, like assigning homework to 5-year-olds, it is crowding out the one thing that truly is vital to their future success: play.

A survey of 254 teachers in New York and Los Angeles the group commissioned found that kindergartners spent two to three hours a day being instructed and tested in reading and math. They spent less than 30 minutes playing. “Play at age 5 is of great importance not just to intellectual but emotional, psychological social and spiritual development,” says Edward Miller, the report’s co-author. Play — especially the let’s-pretend, dramatic sort — is how kids develop higher-level thinking, hone their language and social skills, cultivate empathy. It also reduces stress, and that’s a word that should not have to be used in the same sentence as “kindergartner” in the first place.

That's from Peggy Orenstein in NYTimes.

Our son Aadhu went to a Montessori for three years (age 3 to 5) before he started Class I. He never had any homework. He did quite a bit of work, though: alphabets (and later, words and sentences), a bit of arithmetic, drawing, colouring, etc, but all that happened in the school, which also retained his notebooks through the academic year. The no-homework policy made him happy, and that made his parents even happier!

Now he's in Class III in the Kendriya Vidyalaya in the IISc campus. He gets some homework: about a half-hour's work everyday -- already too much, I think.. Our only consolation is that it's not as much as what kids in some of the other schools get.


  1. L said...

    Oh if he does not do AT LEAST 3 hrs homework how do you expect him to get into IIT ? (whether he wishes to or not)
    People looked at me as if I was some monster parent (maybe like starved my children for two months) when I told them I did not send my son for coaching when he was in class XI---I would add apologetically,that he did not want to be coached.
    School with no homework in class III comes close.