Bad Mom,  Bug,  crazy stuff,  spilling my guts

Homework for Breakfast

homework...for breakfast!

We’ve been struggling with homework lately. To be honest, I think homework has been a challenge from the start which is silly because it’s kindergarten! How hard can it be, right? Hah. Kindergarten schmindergarten. I think these three-inch packets of busywork they send home as “homework” are a trick to see if parents are paying attention, that’s what they are. If you don’t help your children do the homework correctly then it must mean you don’t love them! The homework police are watching! Fail! Fail! Fail!

For example: that black rectangular smudge on this thrice-copied xerox that someone hand-me-downed from the eighties is a van, right? V is for van? Or maybe it’s a sink. Is there an S on there? Hmm…let me squint and read the miniscule directions along the side of this really crappy worksheet copy…oh, the directions got cut off. We’re just supposed to know what to do because we’re grown-ups and kindergarten homework is for five-year-olds. Surely 39-year-olds can handle simple letter-recognition exercises? I have a degree in English dadgumit!


So my inability to comprehend kindergarten homework directions coupled with my five-year-old’s highly-effective homework resistance efforts have moved the actual homework completion process to a fairly volatile situation. Meaning, the morning that homework is due has turned into full-on bootcamp craziness, complete with me yelling my head off and the five-year-old running off to her room in tears. And this is just kindergarten!! Whatever are we going to do when she gets to word problems and science projects and book reports?!!!


My feelings exactly.

I don’t know.

We’ve tried everything. We’ve tried sitting down and doing little bits daily. She pokes at it. Spends probably 45 minutes procrastinating and picking all the berries off my centerpiece and gets 1/32nd of it done. We’ve tried me sitting next to her coaching her kindly. That lasts about 45 minutes and then my face melts off and I retreat to go text or something on my phone. We’ve tried comedy hour with me making jokes about every little thing. Haha! Isn’t the number seven so funny the way it slants to the left so that all the little children can slide down it and go to the front of the line! HA HA HA HAA HO HO HO HEE HEE HEE!!! She loves that method. We spend hours laughing our heads off and get about nothing done. And then when I don’t make jokes she thinks I’m the meanest mom in the whole wide world.

not her happy face

I’m such a cruel mom! I’m NOT funny AND I make her do stuff. Like pick up her dirty laundry and brush her teeth. It’s so unfair!! Why does she have do EVERYTHING!!!

math homework

Does anybody else out there struggle with kindergarten homework?

homework at breakfast

Do you have any tips for me? Anything has got to be better than how we’re doing it.


  • KelleyD

    oh! oh! me! me! My son is in Kindergarten this year. He has homework usually M, T, W, Th. We have good days. Aaaaand we have not so good days which end up with me yelling and him standing in the corner. I don’t know what to tell you. It is a total crapshoot day-to-day as to when he is going to be cooperative and enthusiastic about doing it and when he is going to be sullen, cranky, and completely resistant.
    I try to get him to do it the second he walks in the door from getting off the bus. Kind of keep the momentum of the “school day behavior” going. Sometimes it works and we are over and done and on to the fun stuff in a half hour. And some days I feel like I am dragging him through it by his hair. And it is time for me to start dinner and ONE thing has been done. SIGH.
    So. Basically I don’t have any reliable perfect “THIS! THIS WORKS!” kind of advice. But if anyone else has any to give you? Let me know!

  • Liane

    Ugh! I feel your pain. And it only gets worse! I really believe Kindergartners shouldn’t have homework, honestly. I have one in fourth grade and he often has hours worth of work after a 7 hour day cooped up in school. I also have one in Kindergarten-it’s a packet they can work on all week. I just have to try to remember to do a little every night with him.

    These are some (of many) things that make me consider home-school. I just can’t quite get there…
    Here’s an interesting perspective I read about recently regarding homework. Kind of depressing, really:

  • Linda Stewart

    While this idea doesn’t bode well for trees, I found it worked with my daughters when we had homework issues. They bring home their homework packages and I would copy them. Then we would have a little competition to see who would finish the packet first. Them seeing me sit down and ‘struggle’ to understand their homework made them want to work harder so they could ‘explain’ to mommy how it was done. Of course I would always let them finish first which in turn gave them an opportunity to show me how to do it, thus giving them yet another look at what they had learned.

  • Carrie

    We have horrible, horrible struggles with homework. Epic. I hate it. If I got a worksheet that I couldn’t read, I would seriously write “If I can’t read this, how can a five year old?” in red on it and send it back. There is no excuse for that from a teacher. I hate busy work anyway and would not force her to do stuff that didn’t have a clear purpose. I’m a rebel, though.

    Here’s what is working for us. Erik has to be in the process of going to bed at 8 pm. Homework time is at 7 pm. When homework is done he can choose what to do with his time. He can not leave the table until the homework is done. Some nights (like last night when he didn’t do the homework, but cried for an hour) are a major pita. Some nights are fine. He does the homework in five minutes, then has plenty of time to watch a show or play a game.

    I make it sound easy, but it is still a struggle. It’s a struggle for me to remember and to actually give a rat’s ass. It’s a struggle to get him started. I think consistency has been the key for us. He KNOWS he will not get to watch his show if he doesn’t do the homework. Bribery at it’s finest.

  • Heather

    My daughter’s kindergarten teacher doesn’t give them homework. She does send home a word list about once a week for the kids to study, sound out and such. Even then she says not to push them to work on it for more than 15-20 minutes.

  • Jess

    Ask the teacher. When we asked, we found out that it’s not required and just for practicing. Whew! That took a load off!

  • Katie

    I never had homework in Kindergarten, or grades 1-3. Maybe a little bit starting in grade 4. I survived. If she is capable of doing the work and understands the concepts is it required? If she can do the tasks required by her teacher during class time – and understands – why the additional work at that young age? Sorry, this is not helpful to you I know. She just might not be ready for the amount of seat time it takes to do the assignment. You know Bug best and she sounds like a smart kid. Trust her and yourself and let her do what she’s ready for. What is a struggle now might be a piece of cake in four months so let her go at her own speed. It’s only kindergarten, she’s got lots of time to learn good study habits!

  • Sally

    My kids aren’t in kindergarten yet, but I remember this from helping my much younger sisters. Try 10 minutes of homework, 10 minutes of something fun, repeat until homework is done. If your face is melting from boredom and frustration after 45 minutes, she probably feels the same way. A break every once in a while will make the ten minutes after that much more productive. I do this with myself, too, when I need to get something done, but I’d rather just mess around on facebook.

  • bethany actually

    Sigh. Homework drama at this age sucks. You’re right, it’s really like they’re testing the parents!

    I know Carrie (Queen of Rambles) has really struggled with homework with Erik this year too. It just seems CRAZY to me, the amount of homework some kids get in kindergarten. You guys are probably doing more sit-down work with your kids than I did when I was homeschooling Annalie! I do understand the struggles, though. I went through that with Annalie last year when we first started doing regular sit-down lessons for first grade. BUT the difference was, I got her when she was fresh in the morning and we didn’t have to rush off to school afterwards—or, I wasn’t trying to get her to sit down and do more work after a whole day in school.

    I would say talking to the teacher is a good idea, to find out how much of the homework you HAVE to do.

  • Madge

    I have a REALLY funny story about how I didn’t understand one of Pix’s Kinder homework assignments. Actually, it’s not really that funny, it’s more embarrassing than anything else, but it gave me, Pix and her teacher a good laugh. It’s long, I’ll spare you.

    Pix usually doesn’t give me a hard time about homework. She likes doing busy work and writing and studious stuff. This week was a little different though. We had very busy evenings and she ended up having to do almost the entire packet this morning. This week’s packet seemed to have more pages than a normal week. I think it was really overwhelming at first.

    Have you tried to take the staples out and give Bug one sheet a night? Maybe it would seem like less of a hassle to her? Maybe special pencil set in a special box to queue that it’s time for homework? A special cd that you play only at homework time? I’m reaching here.

    Our homework for the week is usually 5 – 7 pages of worksheets, 20 minutes of reading every night, Pix has to write down the title of the book she reads on a reading log, she also has to do work in a large envelope that has her word ring, more books to read and scrabble type tiles to spell words. I have to sign each sheet as it is completed. I’ve gotten in trouble with the teacher (in the form of being teased, I love this teacher) for not noticing very obvious mistakes. I’m tired!

    It feels like a lot of work, but we’ve been told that this is just the beginning and we might as well get the kids used to it now. You know what? Those teachers aren’t kidding! You should see all the work that Emily (4th grade) has done since the beginning of school. Papers, projects, reports, art, etc. I’m learning a lot this year.

  • Madge

    Oh! I forgot, Pix also has to memorize a poem every week. This is placed in the homework folder on Mondays. Now that I’ve written this all down, I’m glad today is Friday – no homework! hahaha

  • Becca

    Carus has always been a dallier over homework, and things that I’ve found help with her:

    Breaking it up into chunks and setting a timer. 15 minutes working, 5 minutes fun. 30 minutes work, 30 minutes fun. Something like that.

    Competition – can you finish your homework before I peel this potato. I bet you I could put away the laundry before you complete that problem…

    I hope you and Bug come to an arrangement that helps you both get through homework with less frustration.

    Oh, and the understanding the cut off/non-existent instructions – yeah, I think we all run into that one and what to crumble the paper into a ball. I’ve even google’d the worksheet info trying to find the answer to some, or the math problem to others.

  • Jill

    Just some friendly thoughts from a current Kindergarten teacher and a former nanny…you have to figure out what works for each kid. Kindergarten homework can be a pain and I can see how it can be more of a nuisance for parents than what it seems like it’s worth. Hopefully Bug’s teacher is using the homework to reinforce concepts that are being taught in class. In my classroom we try to use the homework as review and keep the amount of “worksheet” time at school to a minimum, because at my school, it is an administrative policy that every grade has to have homework.

    Off my soapbox…some practical tips that I have found work for kids through trying to get kids to do their homework.
    1) Make sure any TVs or any other distractions are turned off (even cell phones if necessary), things are put away and there is clear place where she does her homework every day.
    2) Get Bug a box to keep special homework supplies in so there is not any delay in just getting started (finding a pencil, locating scissors, etc)
    3) Figure out what time works better to do hw for you and for her…is it right after school? after snack? after dinner? in the morning?
    4) You could try using a timer. Developmentally, at a Kindergarten level kids are very motivated at “beating the clock” or if you don’t want to foster that kind of competitive atmosphere around homework, just use it it so Bug can understand how much time that she needs to stay focused on her work before she can get a break.
    5) Communicate with the teacher, maybe there’s an alternative way to do homework. I have made accommodations if a parent has concerns (e.g. getting the homework early, having an extra day or over the weekend to finish it, cutting back reading log minutes, etc).
    6) If Bug responds well to positive reinforcement you could try some positive behavior strategies. Similar to some styles of potty training, she can earn a reward. So you would set expectations (e.g. She must sit at her special spot and finish one homework sheet without interruption) and then she earns 1 star/sticker/poker chip/whatever. At a pre-determined amount of earned tokens she gets a reward. This isn’t something i would suggest doing long-term as hopefully she will learn the routine and see the benefits in getting her homework done and getting on to the fun stuff.

    Sorry for the crazy long post, good luck!

  • Madge

    @Bethany – OH, I have asked myself this question a few times over. So far the best benefit I can think of is that I can have lunch alone with Fish 4 times a week, hahaha

  • Mickey

    Would it be possible for Bug to occasionally do her homework with her neighbor friend? She might feel grown-up sitting side by side doing work, and it’ll be fun.

    On the bright side, her feelings toward homework may change in 1st grade.

    Homework = Work for the Parents :)

  • Christine

    I’m so sorry. I feel lucky that at the moment Dash doesn’t mind doing his homework and it’s usually pretty quick and easy. I do think that he learns from what he does, and I’m happy about that.
    However. I second (third, whatever) asking the teacher if it’s compulsory. It sounds like it’s causing way too much stress and hassle and doing very little good.
    I have a friend who is an extremely thoughtful, well-read parent who used to be a middle-school teacher. When her son starts kindergarten next year she plans to not let him do any homework. What are they going to do – fail him at the end of the year? I think not. Did you know there’s a whole anti-homework movement, and a lot of research to show that it’s pointless? Start here:
    Good luck! I really don’t think it’s worth all this frustration, and I hope you can come to a happy solution.

  • Cyndi

    Long time reader- first comment, but elementary school homework gets me preaching from my soapbox ESPECIALLY when it is just busywork.

    There is no research that shows any benefits from homework for elementary age children. (Except for reading which I assume you do with Bug all the time.) The most widely accepted guideline is 10 minutes per grade level. Which means kindergarten should have exactly NONE.

    I would have a short conference with her teacher regarding this issue. Let her/him know that this is stressing Bug out. Find out if your district has an actual homework policy. Many districts actually don’t allow kindergarten homework. Many leave it up to the individual teacher which means Bug’s teacher has the freedom to modify the amount. If you two can come to an agreed upon amount that is reasonable-Great! If not, you can choose to not have her do the work that is causing undue stress in your household. Plus, it is a good way to let the teacher know the homework is too much. Bug is a smart little gal and you can’t possibly be the only ones having this issue.

    Climbing down from my soapbox. The next time I comment I promise to not have steam coming out of my ears!

  • TexasLea

    Well, the first possible solution that popped into my mind was for you and Bug to move to Texas where some folks I know would be more than happy to help you homeschool Bug and since these folks are tons of fun, I’m sure Bug would love any and all work she did. ;)

    Since that solution probably isn’t going to be possible, I can offer some other suggestions. First off, make her work for no more than 10 minutes at a time- I bet even in class they don’t stay on one thing much longer than that.She is just 5 after all and 5 year olds aren’t built to sit and concentrate that long. Praise every effort and most importantly be sure to bribe… uh.. I mean Offer rewards-“once you finish practicing your S’s we’re going to take Holly for a walk”. Or try candy, candy works good too. :)
    I also agree with talking to the teacher for suggestions .Whatever you decide to try, I’m sure you girls will find a pattern that works best soon.

  • Ninabi

    As someone who taught first graders, I’m not really keen on the idea of homework (or rather, busywork) for young children. It kills their enthusiasm for learning.

    However, life is all about doing things we’d rather not do and the drill packet is unfortunately Bug’s.

    I would put a post-it note over the last problem in each row and underneath, write a silly note or have a fun little job to do or a small joke on the back side of the post it note- sort of like an advent calendar- some little joy for completing the tedious task. If it can incorporate movement, so much the better. Maybe you only need one post it note per page (you know Bug best).

    Another question I have for you is this- is Bug struggling with the amount of work or the content? If she knows the material, I would bring this up at the next teacher conference. Again, it can dampen a child’s drive if they are made to do tasks they already know well.

  • Lise

    I wouldn’t make her do the homework. I’d go through the packet with her, asking her questions about the concepts and reinforcing her in-school learning with other, more effective, methods. If she has hard time distinguishing between “M” and “N,” for example, painting pictures of mice and newts with the appropriate letters on them, or tracing the letters in cornmeal, or making playdough letters, or making the letters out of jumprope would all be more effective and engaging than doing busywork. She’s an active, creative young child. Trying to get her to sit still and do boring, confusing busywork will not serve any purpose except to make her hate learning.

    I’d also talk to the teacher, letting her know that you’re happy to help reinforce learning at home, but in a way that better serves Bug.

  • Robin

    My son, now 8, struggled mightily with homework in kindergarten (age 5 here). First, I want to let you know that it gets better. For us, first grade was okay, and second and third grades have been no trouble. So there is hope!

    What worked a bit for us was to do it first – sometimes even at the school before leaving. Once he has mentally transitioned to playtime, it’s too hard to get back into school mode. A snack that is easy to eat while working – popcorn, grapes, carrot sticks, cookies – can also help.

    And yes, ask the teacher if it’s really necessary to do it all! Bug should not be having the fun of learning beaten out of her.

  • Amanda

    OMG that is just ridiculous! Bug has more homework that my 6th graders. Their homework consists of reading every night (I know it doesn’t always happen for everyone). The only other “homework” that they have is work not completed during class time because they weren’t paying attention to what they should have been doing. I also have a 20 minute rule. If it takes you more than 20 minutes or you still can’t get it after 20 minutes bring it back to school and check with me for help. 20 minutes…and again, that’s for 6th grade!
    I would say for Kindergarten (taught that grade too) reading with a parent is the most important homework. Practicing writing her name and knowing her phone number and addy (some of my 6th graders don’t even know this) would be great! But pages of work is ludicrous!
    This was one of my favourite sites back then…and I still recommend it to friends as their kids get to school age. It’s a great site and a fun way to learn at home:

  • Amanda

    Looking back through the comments I feel like the rebel teacher! Sounds like I should be giving homework. I can honestly say I have NOT seen any difference between when I used to give homework and now that I don’t. Toronto District School Board (not the board I’m with) “banned” homework.
    Good luck with this one…both you…and everyone else struggling with this one.

  • Nat

    I have a 2nd grader, who is has problems with doing homework, kindergarten is nothing compared to what your going to get in 2nd grade better prepare yourself it gets harder.

  • Mrs. Wilson

    I’m so sorry you have to deal with this! Kaylie has pretty much never had homework. This year, her teacher told the parents that she doesn’t believe in giving kids homework, but she will send home unfinished work, which has only happened three or so times.

    I think I’d talk to the teacher, because this seems quite unreasonable for a five-year-old!

  • Erin

    I learned my colors, how to play house, and draw a person with a neck, and never had a lick of homework in kindergarten. Now I have a master’s degree. I wouldn’t fret TOO much.

  • Kuky

    Wow this post and the comments were a real eye opener. No benefits from doing homework? Really? Then why oh why make kids do it? And schools that ban homework? WOW!

    Does Bug do her work fine in school? Can you find out and then try to replicate whatever the teacher is doing to make that happen?

  • Sonja von Franck

    Sorry to have fallen off the face of the earth SAJ!! Just getting back on track after my third baby. It’s taken a while! I’m enthralled with all that you’ve been up to, not to mention this post. (The books!! OMG!! They look amazing!!) My oldest isn’t due for kindergarten until next year and this homework issue is yet another reason I might be considering home schooling. My main reason is that he would have to get up at 6:00 in the morning to be on time for the 7:20 am start time! I can not fathom getting a five year old up in the dark, not to mention my husband! SO, in looking at your pictures, I really appreciate the fact that the sun is up when Bug is having her breakfast! Looking forward to keeping up with you and Bug more and I hope you figure something out so that getting her to do her homework isn’t so difficult. :-)