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Homework in Preschool and Kindergarten
Homework from vanessa on Vimeo .
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
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.
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
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
- Number Identification 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.
- 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 Tip Sheet
- Name homework explanation
- Ways to Help Your Child Learn the Alphabet at Home
- Supporting Math Skills at Home
More Teaching Tips from Pre-K Pages
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THE Best Way to Handle Kindergarten and Preschool Homework
Shared by Mary Catherine 30 Comments
Learn how to create a meaningful preschool homework plan for your students using a homework calendar. Be sure to check out the rest of my free preschool printables next!
Below I’ll share how to incorporate a preschool homework calendar into your plans. These homework activities are perfect for preschool, pre-k, and kindergarten students.
Be sure to note that this isn’t a “traditional” homework plan. Not by a longshot! Instead, it’s focused on hands-on, age-appropriate activities (rather than inappropriate worksheets and such).
“Miss Mary Catherine, what about homework? Her brothers have homework most nights, and I could really use some help in that department.”
Questions like this one aren’t unusual at preschool and kindergarten Back-to-School Nights or Meet the Teacher gatherings. At least not for me.
Parents want the best when it comes to their children’s education, and it’s often assumed homework is an integral part of that.
But early childhood educators want to do what’s developmentally appropriate and best for their students – and research has shown that traditional homework doesn’t fit into that. So how to do we merge each of these viewpoints?
Table of Contents
Do We Really Need Preschool Homework?
As I mentioned above, I’ve noticed that many parents ask about homework. I think some people assume school and homework go hand-in-hand. I’m referring here to the traditional view of homework, with kids sitting down at the kitchen table to fill out pages and pages of worksheets.
I’m inclined to disagree with that, especially when it comes to early childhood students. Young kids need hands-on learning experiences , both at home and at school, to grasp important early learning concepts. I most definitely don’t think the traditional worksheet homework is appropriate for young kids.
Listening to books read by their parents, free play time at home, and maybe some additional hands-on learning activities are more along the lines of the kind of homework I recommend.
The BEST Way to Handle Kindergarten and Preschool Homework
So we’ve established that sit down, pencil to paper homework isn’t that great for preschool and kindergarten. How, then, should homework be handled?
My suggestion: create a preschool homework plan centered around monthly activity calendars.
Explain the research to the parents, and have a quick chat about developmentally appropriate practice . Stress the importance of down time after school, and encourage daily reading snuggled up with the kids.
At this point, parents might still want something more. That’s where the homework calendars come in.
Kindergarten and Preschool Homework Calendars
The printable homework calendars I’ve sent home are definitely not preschool worksheets . They include a variety of tasks that kids can do – sometimes with their families, and sometimes on their own. My goal is for my students, and their parents, to see how learning can take place in a wide variety of ways. Additionally, kiddos with older siblings love having their own “homework” to complete like their big brother or sister.
To put together homework calendars for your students, brainstorm ideas that cover topics such as:
- Fine motor skills
- Gross motor skills
- Helping others
- Self-help skills
Try to keep the daily activities simple, with some ideas the kids can do on their own and some they can try with their parents or siblings. Some of the calendar ideas can relate to your preschool themes , seasons or holidays, or everyday helping tasks.
These homework calendars can go home in their personalized folders at the beginning of the month, with the kids returning them at the end of the month. They can also just be used as suggestions when parents ask about homework for preschool kiddos.
Preschool Homework Ideas
As I mentioned earlier, using monthly calendars for preschool homework is NOT like traditional paper-and-pencil homework. The calendars are meant to be filled with developmentally-appropriate activities kids can do at home.
If you need some ideas to add to the calendars, here you go:
- Go for a walk outside and count the trees.
- Tell your family about what you did on the playground today.
- Listen to a family member read a book.
- Try to do 5 jumping jacks.
- Draw a picture of your favorite animal.
- Sing a song to your family.
As you can see, these are simple and very appropriate activities for young children. And none of them are focused on tracing the number 1 twenty times.
I’d love to hear your thoughts now! How do you handle preschool homework (or kindergarten homework)?
A Year’s Worth of Preschool Homework Calendars
I’m so excited to share with you how you can get a hold of the rest of the calendars now! I’ve received a lot of wonderful emails asking for an entire year’s worth of calendars. Thanks so much for reaching out – I love hearing from you!
So here it is – a full year’s worth of editable homework calendars. It’s a set that includes homework calendars for every month of the year. Each calendar is an editable printable, and there are three versions:
- One has seasonal clip art,
- One has non-seasonal clip art, and
- One doesn’t have any clip art. Each month has a version that’s already full of activity ideas, along with a blank version (but you’re able to edit every single version).
Click on the image below to get your own set of preschool or kindergarten homework calendars from Preschool Teacher101:
Be sure to join The Pack from Preschool Teacher 101’s waiting list . Members get access to all we have to offer – fully-developed lesson plans, digital games, dramatic play packs, circle time song activities, STEM challenges, and so much more!
Free Printable Preschool Homework Calendar
I’m happy to share one of my homework calendars with you. It’s even editable! That way, teachers (and parents!) can put their own spin on the homework.
How to Use the Activity Calendar
Grab the September homework calendar PDF and open it up. Click on any of the editable areas and make your own changes. You can change:
- The directions at the top of the calendar
- The date (just the number)
- Each of the homework tasks within the squares
Then print out the calendar and share with your students’ parents. You’re welcome to leave everything the way I’ve written it too. That’s what I am loving about editable PDFs – the flexibility of customizing documents.
Take a look at the homework calendars in action in the video below:
Get the Free Printable
This free printable preschool homework calendar is available to members of Fun-A-Day’s free email community . If you’re a member, fill out the form below and the download links will be sent to your inbox. If you’re not a member, you can join us by entering your information in the form. Then you’ll receive the printable as a welcome gift!
You can also access the form in a new tab if you’d prefer.
Supplies to Keep at Home
Our homework calendars have some great examples of short learning prompts to give to challenge your children with. On top of those prompts, I think it’s really important to spend quality time playing with your children each day as well.
But it can be difficult to bring out our-inner child to play with our actual child. That’s why I’ve created this list of some things to play with your kids. Check it out below!
I may get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.
- Build with blocks
- Play with toy vehicles
- Pretend play with various play sets
- Play dress up with costumes and masks
- Work a puzzle
- Play age-appropriate games with the whole family
- Bounce, throw, and kick playground balls back and forth
- Color in coloring books or draw pictures
- Read stories
- Draw with sidewalk chalk
- Create crafts
- Let your child decide!
Just follow your child’s lead and the two of you are sure to have a blast! Remember – your child will cherish any time you spend with them. They’ll cherish that quality time even more when you’re investing in them and doing something they love. So don’t worry about embarrassing yourself or looking silly. In my book, the sillier – the better!
Originally published August 8, 2016
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August 8, 2016 at 10:52 pm
What a great idea and the clip art- so cute! I could definitely use this with my little ones!
August 9, 2016 at 12:39 am
Thanks so much, Dana!
August 9, 2016 at 9:27 am
will you have the rest of the months available? this is good!
August 9, 2016 at 10:46 am
Thanks so much, Mary! I’ll be working on the rest of the months soon, yes. Glad you like it. 🙂
August 9, 2016 at 5:21 pm
I would love to win this CD! I am a preschool teacher and would use it for my class. 🙂
August 9, 2016 at 6:39 pm
Wonderful, Stephanie! It’s pretty awesome. 🙂
August 9, 2016 at 7:01 pm
Thank you so much. This calendar is perfect for “homework.” I’d love to buy the rest of your calendars, if you chose to create them!
August 9, 2016 at 9:19 pm
You’re so sweet, thanks Christina! I’ll be working on the rest of the calendars soon! 🙂
August 11, 2016 at 8:48 am
What an awesome calendar and a fun way for “homework” I would use the CD for my preschool room!
August 11, 2016 at 5:00 pm
Thanks, Olivia. 🙂
August 11, 2016 at 2:08 pm
As a kindergarten teacher that is reticent to give “homework,” this calendar is perfect! I can’t wait to utilize it and to see the future months.
I love making different signs and worksheets for my classroom to make things cute and bright and the Kiddlywinks CD would be perfect! No more searching! Thanks so much!
August 11, 2016 at 5:01 pm
Thanks, Maegan! It is a pretty versatile clip art collection! 🙂
August 11, 2016 at 11:33 pm
What a great idea. This is my kind of homework!
August 12, 2016 at 10:02 am
Thanks so much, Danielle!! 🙂
August 12, 2016 at 1:24 pm
Great giveaway! I would love to win and use for these for creating printable for my Homeschooling students.
August 13, 2016 at 9:51 am
Thanks, Jenny! 🙂
August 25, 2016 at 8:21 am
I would love to have the kidillywinks CD for newsletters and preschool activities. I love all of DJ Inkers ciparts and fonts! This CD has some really cute things! Thank you for the homework calendar!
August 26, 2016 at 10:36 pm
Glad you liked it! 🙂
September 19, 2016 at 2:30 pm
Hi!! I really like this calendar! Do you have the rest of the months? I have parent’s who WANT their children to have homework. So I have been looking for easy things to “assign” my 3s. Your calendar is PERFECT!!
September 22, 2016 at 12:11 pm
Thanks, Mary! 🙂 Yes, that’s part of why I started setting up homework too – parents and kiddos who want it coming home. I just updated this post so it has links to where to find the year’s worth of homework calendars , along with where to check out the Preschool Teacher 101 community .
September 19, 2016 at 3:19 pm
I absolutely love this Calendar and want to start using it with my preschool class. I look forward to seeing the other month Calendars that you create! Thank you so much for this!!! It’s such a great way to get the parents more involved.
September 22, 2016 at 12:09 pm
I’m so glad that you like the calendar, Sarah! I just updated this post with the information about where to grab the year’s worth of calendars –> Here at Preschool Teacher 101’s shop . I’d also love for you to check out the resource of Preschool Teacher 101 here .
September 24, 2016 at 9:51 am
Hi Mary Catherine! Love your blog! What a lovely job you’ve done. Was hoping to print out the calendar for use at home, but when I click the link it’s a blank template. Is there another link for the filled out version? Thanks so much and looking forward to following you! 🙂
September 24, 2016 at 8:35 pm
So glad you stopped by Fun-A-Day! 🙂 Here’s the direct link to the printable – https://fun-a-day.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/Sept-Cal.pdf . It should pop up as a PDF with the ideas already in there (although you’d be able to edit it). Click in a box to change up the text if you’d like to. 🙂
September 27, 2016 at 1:51 pm
I want to buy your homework calendars but can’t figure out out to purchase them. I am able to put them in a cart but that is all. Do I have to purchase a membership in order to buy them?
September 28, 2016 at 10:41 pm
No, you don’t have to become a member to get the calendars. Once you’ve clicked “Add to Cart”, select “View Cart”. Then click on “proceed to checkout” and enter all the details regarding billing. If you are doing those steps and it is still not working please let me know specifically where you are having trouble, so I can help. Can’t wait to hear what you think of the calendars! 🙂
July 31, 2017 at 5:06 am
Any early childhood teacher that has had child development knows that that kind of pressure on young children is not age appropriate. I would not put recommend a preschool or kindergarten that required their students to do real homework.
I have sent home games that children really like and want to share with parents. I have also suggested games and activities that parents can do with their child to help develop a skill but I always emphasized the need to be careful not to force a child to do an activity.
July 31, 2017 at 11:21 am
Love your ideas! That’s why I like the activity calendars – suggestions for families but no stress if it gets done or not. Definitely no traditional homework (I honestly don’t like it for elementary school either).
September 29, 2022 at 11:12 am
How can I get October- May homework calendars? I will pay for them if you have them for sale on your site. I love your philosophy about hands-on age appropriate activities to foster the love of learning.
October 4, 2022 at 9:49 am
Hi Kristen! You can get an entire year’s worth in our Preschool Teacher 101 shop here . They’re all editable and come with variations for you to choose from. Thanks so much for the kind words! That’s exactly what these are meant to be – hands-on activities that encourage kids and families.
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