Sen Homework Ideas For Preschoolers

Homework for Preschool, Pre-K, or Kindergarten

Homework in Preschool and Kindergarten

Homework from vanessa on Vimeo.

Preschool Homework

To do or not to do, that is the question! The topic of homework for young children is one that is fiercely debated in the field of early childhood education. Many parents and administrators are all for it, many teachers are against it.

Some schools mandate homework for Pre-K because they think it’s going to close the achievement gap, others do it because they think parents “expect it” and still others assign homework because it’s what they’ve always done. There’s a little something here for everyone, no matter what your situation.

Different types of homework has been shown to benefit different populations. The type of program you work in may also dictate the type of homework you send home, if any.

Parents and Homework

My goal for homework in my own classroom is to support and encourage parents as partners in their child’s education. It is my responsibility as the teacher to teach the required skills, but it is the parent’s job to help support me in my efforts. In other words, “It takes a village…” Some parents need more help and encouragement than others, it is also my job to offer that help and encouragement to those who need it.

Reading Aloud to Children as Homework

I believe every parent and teacher should be required to read The Read-Aloud Handbook: 7th Edition by Jim Trelease. Jim explains, very clearly and with plenty of anecdotes, humor and wisdom, the importance of reading aloud to children.

If you’re interested in reading more on this topic I encourage you to check out the online book study I hosted for The Read-Aloud Handbook.

Meaningful Homework Activities for Parents to Do With Children

The book Just Right Homework Activities for Pre-K offers many meaningful activities that parents can do at home with their children. It includes detailed instructions for parents for each activity as well as blackline masters.

Structured Homework

When working with Title 1 and programs that serve at-risk populations it may be necessary to provide parent training through educational sessions. All parents want to help their children, but not all parents know how to do so.

I created the video at the top of this page to show to parents at our “Homework Help” educational session.

Printable Personalized Practice Cards

A useful tool that can help you not only assess students, but communicate progress to parents is ESGI. ESGI auto-generates personalized parent letters, in both English and Spanish, that you can use to easily show parents their child’s progress and provide them with personalized practice cards to help their child at home.

With just one click of a button in ESGI, you can quickly generate parent letters for each child in your class along with corresponding flash cards, specifically aligned to each child’s individual needs.

Click HERE to try ESGI free for 60 days and use promo code PREKPAGES to save $40 off your first year!

In the beginning, some components of a structured homework program might include:

  • First Name Identification & Writing Practice
  • Numbers and Counting
  • Color Recognition- for those that need it
  • Shape Recognition-for those that need it
  • Letter Recognition
  • Books for parents to read aloud to their child (See my take-home book program)

As young children mature and their needs change some changes to the homework may be necessary, such as:

  • Last Name Identification & Writing Practice
  • Sight Words (for those who are ready)
  • Number identification, 20 and up
  • Rhyming and other phonemic awareness skills
  • Letter sounds

Of course, differentiation for students performing above or below grade level expectations should always be taken into consideration when assigning homework.

How Do I Get Started Setting Up a Homework Program?

Step 1: Prepare your materials. Prepare the following materials to give to each child.

  • Name Card and Letter Tiles: Prepare a name card for every student using ABC Print Arrow font (see resources section) then print on cardstock and laminate. You could also use a sentence strip and a permanent to create name cards. You can use letter tiles from Wal-Mart or Staples or you can cut a matching sentence strip apart between the letters to make the name puzzle.

  • Number Flash Cards: You can use a simple font to type the numbers into a document in Word, print, laminate, cut, hole punch, and put on rings. The rings are highly recommended so the cards don’t become lost. You can also find free, printable number flash cards on-line.

  • Letter Flash Cards: The letter flash cards at left were made in Word using the ABC Print font, just print, laminate, cut, hole punch, and put on rings. Don’t forget to make one set of upper and one set of lowercase. The rings are highly recommended so the cards don’t become lost.

  • Color Flash Cards: The color flash cards pictured above were made by placing color stickers on paper. You can also find free, printable color flash cards on-line. The rings are highly recommended so the cards don’t become lost.
  • Shape Flash Cards: You can also find free, printable shape flash cards on-line. Just print, laminate, cut, hole punch, and put on rings.

Step 2: Next, you will need to create a system to communicate what activities you expect your students to do each night. One of the most effective ways to do this is by creating a monthly “Homework Calendar.”

You can download free calendars online that you can customize to meet your needs. In each space on the calendar indicate which activities you want parents to focus on each night, this helps parents from becoming overwhelmed. At the bottom of each space on the calendar there is a place for parents to sign indicating they have helped their child complete the assigned tasks. You can mark each space with a stamp or sticker to indicate your acknowledgement of homework completion. The homework calendars are kept in our BEAR books and carried back and forth by the child each day in his or her backpack.

If this method is too much for you then you may prefer the simpler Reading Log method.

Step 3: To implement a successful Pre-K Homework Program in your classroom you must meet with all the parents to explain your program. Do not expect your program to be successful without this critical component. Have an informational meeting or “Parent Night” and send home flyers to invite the parents. Make sure to include this event in your weekly newsletter as well.

When having parent education sessions such as this it is best to have some sort of prior arrangements made for the students and siblings to be outside of the classroom in an alternate location so the parents can focus on the information that is being presented.

  • After parents have arrived and you have welcomed them and thanked them for attending, show them the homework video (see top of page).
  • Next, use your document camera to show them the actual materials they will be receiving. Model how to use the materials and how to do each activity they were shown in the video.
  • Show them a sample homework calendar and what to do with it.
  • Explain your system for sending materials home in detail, for example will materials be sent home in a bag or a folder?
  • Make sure parents thoroughly understand the purpose and expectations for your homework program as well as your system.
  • Allow parents to ask questions and thank them again for attending.

You could also create a video like the one at the top of this page to show to parents.

Additional Information:

  • Homework should last no more than 5-10 minutes total each night including the book that parents read to their child.
  • Worksheets should never be sent home as homework. This sends the message to parents that worksheets are an acceptable form of “work” and it is a good teaching practice when the exact opposite is true.
  • Homework at this age should be fun and children should enjoy doing it. Advise parents that if their child does not seem to enjoy homework time they should make an appointment to see you so you can help them determine what is wrong and how to make it fun.
  • Emphasize that reading to their children every day is the single most important thing they can do as parents. It is also highly recommended that you show the parents one of the following short video clips about the importance of reading to their children:

How to Help Your Child Read (English)
How to Read Out Loud to Your Preschooler (English)
Como ayudar a tu hijo leer (Spanish)

Homework Links

More Teaching Tips from Pre-K Pages

Parenting, Special Education

A Special Needs Guide to Homework

At the middle school open house, my buddy Sharon and I spent some time talking with the special ed teacher.  There are 9 students in the class, but we were the only parents who showed up. During our conversation, Sharon and I both asked the teacher what we could be doing at home to support our children’s classroom goals.  The teacher answered that he usually doesn’t assign homework, because the only students who attempt to complete it are my son and Sharon’s son.

The Problem with Homework

There are many other battles to fight at home that are preferable to homework assistance for a student with special needs.  The phrases, “pulling teeth” and “torture” immediately come to mind.  Homework may be a harrowing experience that ends in tears for all involved.  Last week I wrote on my son’s math homework, “Louie was too distressed to complete this assignment.”

Lack of Instructions

Sometimes a teacher sends home incorrect instructions (see Facebook Post Below) for an assignment, sometimes no instructions at all: a student with communication difficulties may not be able to express what the assignment is about.

What’s more important: Therapy or Homework?

Then there’s the question of therapy: do we work on the occupational and physical therapy exercises tonight, or tackle the homework?

Does Homework actually Help?

And finally, does homework actually help anyone anyway?  Studies and surveys of high school students have found a direct correlation between homework completion and high academic scores. For middle school students, the correlation is much lower, and for elementary students, there is no correlation.  The national PTA organization and National Education Association  recommend 10 minutes of homework per grade level – 10 minutes daily for first grade up to 120 minutes for twelfth grade.

The Benefits of Homework

For my son who has special needs, a small amount of homework helps to reinforce his memory and prevent a loss of skills.  Some of the larger assignments, like the poster he recently made for social studies, help him feel like a valued member of his class.  He takes pride in his work and in demonstrating his ability.  I’ve come to realize that organizing himself, learning how to focus and monitor himself are important life skills for him, and there has been extensive educational research identifying these and other benefits of homework for students with disabilities.

Nine Tips to Make Homework Manageable

Homework is never easy.  However, through trial and error (mostly error), I’ve found some methods over the years to make homework less maddening for me and my son.  Here’s how we structure our time on each assignment:

1. Plan for the first break before starting

During that math meltdown last week, I had an epiphany: I could have prevented the whole thing if I had only scheduled a break and set up the break activity ahead of time.  A break activity can be as simple as a cup of chamomile tea with honey, or something more vigorous such as 5 to 10 minutes of cross-lateral exercise.  My son likes to follow a routine, so he is receptive to anything that is pre-scheduled for him.

2. Make space

Physical and mental space is necessary for homework.  My son needs to know that it is the family’s top priority in that moment.  We clear off a table, get the necessary supplies and review his school planner before opening any books.  We talk about which assignments are due the next day, and which ones can be completed over several days.  His parapros at school leave a one-line note for each class in his planner, explaining what was done in school and what needs to be done at home.

3. Model then step back

My son is very anxious about the possibility of doing something “wrong.”  I help him by breaking down an assignment into tiny steps that he can understand.  Gradually I offer less and less assistance, and I’ll step away for a few minutes at a time to prepare dinner – but I always return.

4. Offer gentle encouragement

Homework time is especially sensitive, full of little “aha” moments and big frustrations.  Gentle words and positive reinforcement such as “You did it!” and “You figured that out all by yourself!” and “Wow! Your hard work is really paying off!” can start a snowball effect in homework completion and positive self-talk.  Negative words, even words that are only slightly negative, can lead to meltdown – but don’t ask me how I know that.

5. Switch Gears

My most successful homework trick is to switch gears as soon as my son gets stuck on something. For example, if he is having a difficult time with a set of math problems, I switch him over to language arts and have him do a short assignment.  Then we switch back to the math.  Bolstered by his success with the language arts, he is ready to tackle the math.

6. Check work 

Homework does not have to be perfect, but I do check to make sure that my son is on the right track and checks off the requirements for an assignment.  This helps boost his confidence and sense of independence.

7. Take multiple breaks

Homework is draining because it comes after 7 hours at school, where my son works very hard all day to focus, manage his anxiety and control repetitive behaviors.  Home is where he lets loose. That means he needs several sensory breaks, indoors and outdoors.  He gets time with our pets. He gets a high-protein snack.  He drinks some herbal tea to relax.  He needs time to talk and time to be alone.  Each break rejuvenates him enough to do another section of homework.

8. Quit while you’re ahead

Each student has different limits, and each student’s limits can vary widely from day to day.  Before your student reaches the point of no return, close the books and call it a night.  Homework is more likely to be successful if a student has positive emotions associated with it.  An incomplete assignment may cause short-term anxiety, but it can usually be completed in school the next morning with a teacher’s assistance.  In the long-term, the student learns how much is too much.

9. Pack up

The best part of doing homework is packing up the books when it’s finished.  Our ritual involves putting all of the materials in his backpack, and placing the backpack next to the door where Louie waits for his school bus.  My rewards are the smile on his face and his sense of accomplishment.  And we’re ready to do it all over again the very next day.

What are your tips and tricks for homework?



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