What We Learn in Kindergarten

By: Mary Morris

My son is 5 years old and just entered kindergarten.  He came home the first week with homework. Say what? Homework in kindergarten? Since when? Isn’t that pushing it?  I am not knocking kindergarten, but isn’t it all about painting, play dough and learning the ropes?

How many early childhood teachers have I insulted?  I don’t mean to insult anyone. I understand that each grade is important and that they build on each other. I know early years are a vital playground for language and socialization. However, I wasn’t expecting homework.

Then I read further that two nights would be allotted for each assignment.  The note went on to say that the homework was optional. Now don’t get me wrong, my son is going to do the homework whether it is optional or not. I believe in the home/school connection.  Even if a teacher has a rule in school that I don’t have at home, I often adopt that rule for consistency’s sake. I always show a united front with the school and the teacher.

I am lucky to live in a great town with a great school system. I have had no complaints with either of my children’s public schooling thus far, which is a blessing. I hear horror stories from other people. Well, horror is a strong word. I have heard some stories of parent/teacher disagreement. I haven’t had any of that.

TeacherBut back to the homework. Zachary was excited to do it! Now he has homework like his big sister Eva!  He even asked where it was the other day. He doesn’t require any help.  I started to read the simple directions, “Write letters.  Color pictures.” He interrupted me and said, “I can read the directions.”  “Okay read them for me then,” I said. And he did, he read just what it said. My boy is growing up! He looks so studious sitting at the kitchen table working away with his pencil kit and supplies.

Which made me think of the book, ‘All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten’ by the famous author Robert Fulghum. In this popular book, he features the top lessons we learn in kindergarten, such as “share everything,” “play fair,” and “don’t hit people.” My middle schooler, Eva, said these were boring lessons, but we all know middle schoolers already know everything they need to know in life, right?  However, we both agreed that learning to say sorry when you hurt someone is really important to learn when you’re young and maintain throughout your life. And there were so many more great points.  If you haven’t ever read it, you should.

Then I got to the part where Fulghum says what he really wants for Christmas is to be 5 years old again, even if just for an hour so he can laugh a lot and cry a lot. “I want my childhood back” he explains. I feel, as parents, we need to remember that when we have children we are reliving our childhood every day if we live it the right way. It may require skipping the optional homework on occasion…just a thought…



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