Homework Time

Updated on October 07, 2010
C.L. asks from Reisterstown, MD
16 answers

My 5 year old son just started kindergarten this year. His teacher began sending homework home on the 1st day of October. I'm having a difficult time getting my son to pay attention and consentrate long enough for me to even finish reading the directions to the homework assignment. I find myself getting very frusterated with each attempt at homework. For example, his assignment for Monday night was to identify 5 letters that were printed on a sheet of paper that was glued in his homework book. The letters were: H, C, G, F, B and D. He knew C and D with no problem at all. I spent almost an hour of pointing to and saying 'H' and having him do the same. Then, when I simply pointed to the letter and asked him what it was he said "I forgot". Does anyone have any suggestions on how to get him to consentrate a bit hard so that he is able to retain the information I am trying to give him?? I will try ANYTHING! Thanks!

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So What Happened?

Thank you all for the many wonderful suggestions! I think that we are starting to get a routine down after school. I do work full time and have a 4 1/2 month old that I'm still breastfeeding, so we do the best we can schedule-wise on a day to day basis. My 5 year old seems to do great with homework assignments that include drawing of some nature, it just seems like the letters bore him. Every night when I get home from work I sit him down to do homework and after he has completed that night's homework assignment I breifly go over one or two of the letters he was having diffculty with (H, F and G). He was finally able to identify 'H' the last night and I totally jumped for joy! I don't think that he has ADHD or any other attention disorder, I just think he is a regular 5 year old who just wants to play and draw. I just have this fear that he is going to fall behind his classmates, but then again don't all parents have that fear when their child starts school for the first time? Since this is our first child entering school, I think for us, we just need to find what works for us and our son. I will definately try some of the wonderful ideas that you all gave to me, some I never would have thought of! Again, thank you so much!

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answers from Washington DC on

I skimmed many of the answers. I hope I'm not repeating. My thought is that he may need some play time before homework. Maybe sitting still and following directions all day in school is wearing him out and he needs a break before homework. Could always be the other way around: sit down and get the homework done and out of the way before play. Try some different routines to see if one works better than the other.

Also, I would definitely talk to the teacher to see what she (or he) would suggest and to get input on how to handle things when he just doesn't seem to be getting the homework. Communicating with the teacher about what homework he struggles with helps the teacher to know what he needs help with.

Good luck!



answers from Washington DC on

i have a kindergartner as well. and sometime sitting for long periods of time is tough..i mean really they are "only five" BUT one activity that i've used with him is this online program called "STARFALL" its colorful animated for them and it just might be fun and grab his attention long enough to grasp the letter recognition. we're working on the same things here. i've found the more often he sees them the better. also suggest trying to mix it up a little, identifying letter in signs or books etc.
Good luck -


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answers from Lynchburg on

Dear C.-

One thing that worked with some of my kids was 'rainbow' letters (or words).

I simply had them trace...over and over...the letter (or word) in different colour markers...hence 'rainbows'. I had them also SAY the letters each time.

Shaving cream on plastic placemat is fun...and messy...as is pudding (and tracing letters in either)

Hope this helps! I found that trying ways for the kids to learn thru all the senses helped...for one kiddo...we made alphabet cookies...he 'ate it up'...lol


3 moms found this helpful


answers from Albany on

Wow, homework in kindergarten? That's just plain crazy! His attention span is WAY too short to finish the task at hand, there is NOTHING wrong with him for only getting 2 letters, then being done with it! I can't imagine WHAT his teacher is thinking!

If you are to keep his attention longer than a couple minutes on 'hard copy', you will need to use PLAY.

Get those fridge magnets that are letters, use those. He will respond to something he can touch, move around, 'play' with much better than a worksheet.

5-10 minutes should be the going rate of homework in FIRST grade, nevermind kindergarten!

He likely already knows ALL his letters, I sincerely hope this 'homework' is 'optional'!! As it will cause a great deal of frustration on your part, stress on his part, and will actually inhibit his cooperation level!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

homework in kindergarten should NOT be like this. i know it's all fashionable to have one's yearlings reciting the alphabet any more, but for sane mothers kindergarten is the age to START getting this stuff down, not already have it in the bag. and you don't teach a child how to read by hammering on 'em. he sounds frustrated and rightly so.
if you're reading to him daily, he already knows his letters. he's pushing back in the only way he can from pressure that is over the top. it's good to challenge children to just past their comfort zone, but if you keep on them after that you are going to cause resentment and it will be counter-productive and eventually ruin their enjoyment of and attitude toward learning.
let him do the letters he knows, praise him, take a short break. come back BRIEFLY- no more than 15 mintues- to the ones he doesn't like. and if he doesn't get it, let it go. trust your child. it sounds as if he already knows it, and he'll regurgitate obediently when he's not in the hot seat and he's darn good and ready.
there's this huge fear among parents that teachers will consider them do-nothing parents if they don't 'reinforce' schoolwork at home, and this causes parents to turn their homes into pressure cookers. in an ideal situation all of life is a classroom, but the fact is that children cannot remain indefinitely in a focused 'YOU MUST LEARN THIS NOW' environment. they need a break. they need to play. kindergartners especially learn through play and need the pressure off.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

Yes--there IS homework in Kindergarten!
My son is in 2nd grade and in K, I tried to make a big deal out of going through his backpack, looking at what he did, and finding the homework assignment(s).
We tried to get in the habit of a small snack & break right after school then do the homework right away b/c when they are tired...5 minutes turns into 45 minutes!
It's most likely a mater of him getting into the routine of it.....
I second the idea of rainbow letters--many colors--tracing over and over.
Is the issue that he really doesn't know the letters or that he won't focus on the homework?
If he doesn't know them--don't worry--he will! Kids really level out in K and the teacher expects some to be ahead and some still learning.
If it's a focus thing--just keep doing the homework at the same time, in the same place every day. Or break it up into little pieces with small breaks in between.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

This works for us and I have a 1st grader and K.

Don't make a big deal of it. It isn't written anywhere that they must start and finish the homework in one big shot....when they get home they want to relax and play....so after a snack and about 15 mins of play time....I take the paper and a crayon or marker or pencil depending on what the assignment is and ask them to answer two question and then I will play a game with them (like a quick game of hide n seek or something) then later while I am making dinner I ask them to answer a couple more questions and before bed before reading a story we finish up the homework.

By the end of the next week they will want to start and finish the paper in one sitting (at least majority of it will be done)because they know I am coming back again and again.

If he wants to have an extra cookie for snack sure but must answer homework question first...try those types of things and see how it goes.

Good Luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

He's probably bored with sitting at the table. Get him up and moving. You've had a lot of suggestions that are great. You can also try LeapFrog's Letter Factory. He will learn the letters and the sounds faster than you think. The songs are catchy (The Farmer and the Dell tune) and give you a way to refer to the letter. For instance, "C" shows a bunch of letter "C's" that are frosty cold, so all they can say is the "k-k-k" sound. He'll get a visual and audio and a "treat" of watching a show. The trick is making it fun so he will love learning. Don't be too hard on yourself or him. It's crazy for a 5 year old to have to do his letters, but that's the push right now.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Cumberland on

I don't mean to be critical, but I am good at it and I am having a hard time wrapping my head around a 5 yr old just now learning the alphabet-?! Also-can't the paid professional teach your son the alphabet-and get it done at school? Homework in kindergarden? Anyway-perhaps you could teach your son the letters by showing him words that begin with the letter-that way the letter has more meaning-it is not just a symbol on a page. You may want to pick up a copy of "The Hurried Child" by Elkind-in short, it is the opposite school of thought that proposes not teaching children to read until they are around 7.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Sacramento on

Children (and adults too) learn through play. It is the best way to learn. At 5 years of age, children do not have the capacity to sit studiously...they are still learning. So, make it fun. Sing little songs, have little sayings that include the letter sound and name. like *clap* Ffff *clap* Ffff *clap* Ffff, F says Ffff!

Write the letters on a piece of paper. If he gets it correct, draw a silly picture next to it, preferably one that corelates to the picture somehow. If he doesn't get it. then move on to the next letter without a picture. It keeps things interesting. If he doesn't get it right, do not dwell on it. Tell him the correct answer and move on. You can give him another opportunity the next round through.

The rainbow tracing is a great idea from Catwalk W. and Theresa N. is absolutely right about the fun and the time scale.

You may have to do several short bursts of 'fun' to get the homework done. IF it isn't fun, or you drag it out, children will shut down. It is simply human nature.

Talk to your child's teacher. They may very well have suggestions that can help.

My son brought home pages of homework in Kindergarten...Boring, tracing homework. It was a struggle but we managed. Now that he is in first grade, something clicked for him, and he is a homework champ. I think part of it is developmental, and part of it is he knows it is going to happen so we make it fun.

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answers from Washington DC on

I think homework for a kindergarten kid is insane. I realize I may be in a minority here, but assuming that you read to your child every day, and he sees YOU reading every day, he will learn his letters in due time--and he may even learn to enjoy reading. Making this a chore for him so early, on the other hand, may simply teach him that letters and books and reading are a chore. And handing out candy for learning things only conveys the message that reading is something difficult that kids need bribery to master. Reading IS the treat, or should be. He is a child; he needs to play--and the more he plays outside, the better. It's a whole 12 years before he has to get his Harvard application in. Relax and enjoy him for the age he is, and throw that homework in the trash--unless, of course, he really is interested in it. I'm all for challenging kids, but there's a difference between challenging and forcing them to do things at 5 they're really not ready for until 7.

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answers from Minneapolis on

I agree with that you should get in the habit of doing homework when you get home. My son is in 1st grade this year and he has homework nearly every night. Last year in K it was once a week. Make a habit of sitting down and looking through his backpack. Read the directions to the homework and then explain it to him. Have something to look forward to when he gets done, such as a snack or being able to do an activity to motivate him to do his homework.



answers from Augusta on

My son is also in kindergarten and I find with both of my kids they have to do homework immediately after school. If they don't I've totally lost them and homework turns into a HUGE deal.
Get home , have a small snack and sit down and do homework. He shouldn't have such a hard time remembering what his letters are.
My son has writing homework everyday , he has one letter each week . First day is writing the letter , uppercase and lowercase over and over again . second day homework is thinking up and writing words that begin with the letter and drawing a picture of the words he wrote. Wednesday is always writing his name 4 or 5 times. Thursday's homework is finding something or a picture of something that starts with that letter for show and tell on Friday.



answers from Lynchburg on

I haven't read all the answers, but skimmed over a few. In an age where other kids are reading earlier and earlier and schools are starting to divide those kids into advanced classes and "regular" classes, and work is becoming more competitive, you need to keep his future in mind. I know homework in kindergarten seems rough. My son is the same age, and his homework started the first week of school and I've been suprised and a bit frustrated at some of it-but there are so many people out there who are getting their kids involved in everything from foreign languages to dance to math acceleration. Anything you can start doing now helps set a stage for their future. I don't have the money to pay for foreign language lessons, but you'd better believe if I did my kid would start learning that soon, b/c when they grow up it will help with employment, for anything from working in a Spanish restaurant to being a doctor in the U.S. and knowing a little French, German, etc, would be great if they ever want to go visit Europe or end up as an international business major. I know that's not a common thought-with the whole "let kids be kids" mentality, but you're an adult. You know the possibilites his future could hold. The kids can't even grasp the possibilities their futures could hold. If you don't help him try to have the tools to do what he may want to do, who will? He's only 5. So you teach at home, you just have to do it in an age-appropriate way. Something he'll understand and hang on to. I would try (and do try) to find something to relate it to. He had a problem with the letter H? Okay, well Hotwheels begins with H. So does hungry. So does help. So focus on things like that-just pointing them out. "You're being a great helper by picking up your toys today. Did you know 'help' begins with h? And your cars are called 'hotwheels'. That begins with H too." That gets them used to the sound as well. So write out on index cards or something a letter. Read with him for 5 minutes, and have him point out any letter h he sees. Then read for 10 more without there being any work attatched. Have him pick out a word he likes that begins with the letter h. Write the word on an index card and make the letter h bolded. Make up 5 sentences with that word. Write them down. See if he can find the h's. Don't put him on the spot by asking him what it is. Show him what it is, and ask him to find something that looks just like it. That repetition will teach him, and he won't worry about answering questions wrong.



answers from Norfolk on

I play the penny game with my kindergartener. For every answer he gets right he gets a penny, for every answer he gets wrong he loses a penny. The whole point is to repeat until he gets pennies for everything. Put them in a piggy bank and at the end of the week take him to the dollar store to let him spend his money.



answers from Washington DC on

First, I would talk to the teacher about the fact that he doesn't already know his letters, do they expect him to? Some school now a days do think incoming kindergarten students should know all their letters.

Second, I would ask the teacher how long this homework should take.

I really don't think the teacher wants you spending an hour doing this with him, after he spent a whole day in school. If she does these people are crazy, that is too much for a five year old (I am assuming full day kindergarten here).

When my son was working on his letters we played "skittle-alphabet." I took a bunch of letters - 10 to start, some of which I knew he knew already. I made flashcards, we went through all of them and for each one he got right he earned a skittle candy. Then the ones he got wrong we went over once or twice, that's it. With my son, I couldn't stay at the table until he got them in one sitting. He just doesn't learn that way. My daughter could do that. Then a day or two later we did the same thing with the same group of letters. (You don't want the gap, in days to be too big, but it doesn't have to be every day.) The skittles (or treat of your choice) were to motivate him and make it fun. We used yogurt raisins with our daughter. Then once he had the 10 I added 4 more to the pile, and kept going until he could get all 26 pretty regularly. Then we did the same things with the lower case letters -- "b" "d" "p" and "q" lower case are still hard and that is developmentally normal at 5. I think it took us a couple of months before he knew all his letters. If you start now, he'll have them before the end of the year.

I would be careful about saying anything negative about your child's concentration or attention because the next thing you'll know someone will want to lable him as having ADHD. Just something to think about.

Good Luck.

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