Homework with My 5 Year Old

Updated on September 01, 2011
J.V. asks from Las Vegas, NV
18 answers

It's the third day of kindergarten for my son and he has homework tonight. It was practicing writing his name. Now I have had him do the ABC's by tracing them in a books and then writing them out on paper. Though for some reason tonight it was like pulling out teeth to get him to do it. I would make him trace over each letter first before he wrote it on the paper. He started to get frustrated and acted like he didn't know how to do it. After a quick break and a little encouraging talk we got him to write his name on the first line. We took a little bit longer break, he had a snack and we were right back to it again. Then he again started to get frustrated and act like he didn't know what he was doing. Now I know it doesn't help that I get frustrated or even when my husband starts with his mouth cause he's frustrated. I tried to tell him to trace it with his finger first but he would huff and puff and try to cry at me. He even tried to get me to do it. I don't think I can take my husband being basically not understanding that he is only 5 and he's in kindergarten.How do I encourage my son to where he stops acting like he doesn't know what he's doing or just flat out not want to do it. My husband's parents, I do believe, put pressure on him to be "perfect" from a young age and I think that is where he is coming from. Now we have had disagreements about how we are going to handle our son in school in the past. I came from a home where if I did my best then that was good. I didn't need to be perfect all the time and I don't expect that from my son. I guess what I'm asking is how do you guys handle homework time?

1 mom found this helpful

What can I do next?

  • Add your own comment
  • Ask your own question
  • Join the Mamapedia community
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

So What Happened?

I want to give a huge thank you to all who have responded so far. The ideas are excellent! I'm gonna keep trying to experiment with different things and see which one(s) work for us. I did talk to him and told him that his teacher just wants to make sure he understands what he did in class. Have to wait and see how he's gonna be when he gets his next homework assignment. Thank you again!
Forgot to mention my son is in A.M. kindergarten so he does come home eat lunch first then I let him play a little bit and homework if he has any. I might be doing the homework right after he eats to see if that would be better for him.
Again thank you to all!

Featured Answers


answers from Kansas City on

this is just me...but- you're not asking him to do it perfectly. you're asking him to DO IT. to me, that's not doing something i asked him to do - which means a time out. i have a 5 year old boy too....i know how stubborn they can be! which is why i feel it's important to really teach him that no matter how unpleasant something is, if it's something we have to do, tanrums/whining/crying/stalling are just not an option. you do it. or you get in time out. period.

**now, having read some other responses let me say- my son is not a huge fighter when it comes to this kind of stuff. maybe because i am strict about it, maybe because he just enjoys it more than some kids. but we have fun with this stuff too, we color and draw and do cutting and gluing on weekends for fun. so to him, it's not like trigonometry. i think that making it fun sounds great. he is so little still. but ya know, when it comes down to it, this is a good life lesson about having to do something that we don't really want to do. good luck!

Edit My Answer
1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

I've seen this work several times: "walk" each letter on the floor. You basically "draw" the path that later goes into writing. It's fun and kids learn the strokes easier... Also, it is important no to push too hard. Every child has unique learning speed. Good luck!

More Answers



answers from Portland on

I suggest you talk with his teacher. I doubt that the homework is so important that you have to push him to do it. It also sounds like the homework was only to practice writing his name. You can turn that into a fun game. Most kids think of writing their name as a good thing to do.

If your son is pushed to the point of frustration he will resist even more. Kindergarten is the time to build good memories about homework. It should be brief and fun. It's not a chore! If you make it into a chore now you will always have trouble getting him to do it.

There are some good books about helping your child to do homework. I suggest seeing if the library has one. Also google homework and kindergarten on the Internet and see what you can find.

I googled parents' guide to kindergarten homework and saw several sites that listed books on this subject.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

in kindergarten our teacher had some fun ideas to help with spelling words and or name.

Get beans, beeds, m&ms, nuts, pennies...... whatever and spell out the name. Or take choc syrup and a paint brush and write the name. Water colors, paint, crayons, rainbow letters......... the idea is to make it fun and not to just do a pencil and paper. When he has some fun time writing with fun elements, then the paper and pen will come. Good luck.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Honolulu on

My son is in Kinder.
He gets homework like this, too.

A kid when tired, has a hard time doing homework. Especially a child this age.

MANY kids, are at different stages of writing or reading, in Kindergarten. It is no big deal.
Why pressure the poor child, per your Husband? He is only 5.
A child, if expected to be 'perfect'... will ALSO many times, just not want to do it. Because, they will then be 'wrong' and not 'perfect' enough per the Parent's expectations... thus, the child does not want to do it. Thus will not do it. Thus so much pressure on the kid, thus, so much arguing between the parents about the child doing their homework and how... thus, the child seeing the parents argue/get upset over them and their homework... the child then, does not want to do it. Because... it is so STRESSFUL... and the child will NEVER be able to do it, PERFECT enough. To the parent's satisfaction.
Hence the kid, again won't want to do homework.
Because, it is a pain.
Hence, a vicious cycle.

My Daughter, in Kindergarten, even if we did NOT pressure her, she would CRY... while doing her homework and then not want to do it. Because... she tended to be a 'perfectionist.' Even the Teacher noticed. And thus, she really got so much in ANGST over homework. Even if we did not pressure her.
It took time, for her to enjoy homework.
We taught her to just 'do your best..." and that every child is different.
YOU are your own, person.

My kids, both do well with homework. They are not perfect, but they enjoy doing homework.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

At this age, I figure that writing his name once a day would be good for homework. He's probably tired after school and maybe would do it again in the morning or on the weekends when he's not so tired. I don't think it's worth a fight especially since he was at school already. He needs time to decompress. =) Just my thoughts!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

My DS hated writing anything and homework in K was a battle at first. Here are my hints:

1) Find a routine for after school and then stick to it! It will depend on your child...is it better to just get the work done before they get engrossed in playing or do they really need some down time first. My son can't transition well so we do HW right after he has a snack...no getting involved in playing. I had to just be tough on this one until he got used to it.
2) Be creative. Sounds like you are working at this (i.e. write with his finger first), but go further. Have a set of fun alphabet cards sitting out. Have him find the letters for his name (help him if he needs it) and line them up. Then he can just copy the letters. My son had a hard time learning how to imagine the letter in his head and write it down from memory. Much easier to copy at first until he developed some muscle memory for letter formation. Also let him have access to different writing utensils and to experiment (markers, pens, pencils, pencils with grips, white board with markers, chalk, crayons). My son still prefers to do his HW with pen and the teacher doesn't mind (but in school he has to practice with a pencil).
3) Do not be overly fussy about the results. Do NOT criticize or correct him at all until he has reached some level of comfort. The quickest way to shut down my son's efforts and desire to try is for me to open my big mouth. He is welcome to ask for my help or advice but I do not allow myself to offer anything unless I am asked. If your husband can't keep his opinions, frustrations, etc. under control then I suggest that only you are in charge of HW time.

Remember, many kids are not ready to write at age 5. So be patient and understanding about how complicated and daunting the writing process can be. If he is resisting, he probably feels overwhelmed and needs things broken down into littler steps. It will come with time.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Rochester on

My daughter is very smart and when she starts to act EXACTLY like your son is acting, I know she is just overwhelmed. It's not that they can't do it, it's that they can't do it perfectly and aren't living up to our high expectations for our smart children.

Wow, I didn't even read the part about you putting pressure on him to "be perfect" but now I see it, and that just cinches it for me! I do this to my daughter sometimes (because I know how well she can do) and this is EXACTLY how she acts.

A few months ago, I realized she does a LOT better, and is a LOT happier if I just let her be a little imperfect. Really, since I've relaxed a bit, she's done a LOT better. (With us it's math, not handwriting, but still...same issue.)

So just try to relax, let him know it's okay if it isn't perfect as long as he tries...and maybe do it with him? You do your own sheet while he does his? Or tell him he can make a worksheet for you to do if he does his...my daughter loves that. They don't realize that they're learning while they're making the sheet, so bonus. :)

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

I think you need to have him sit down the minute he gets home and start his work. Give him a little snack and a drink and then get right to it. Tell your DH to stay out of it. If you can get the homework done before he gets home, even better.
Remind your son that homework is not something you assigned, but that his teacher thinks it's important. Remind him that she only asked him to do this one thing and that once he is finished, he can go play.
Homework was not negotiable in our house. You got off the bus, you sat at the table with your snack and you did your homework... end of subject. It is still that way.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

A couple of things could come into play. First, make sure that you're having him do his work exactly the way the teacher has them do it in class. He can become confused and frustrated if you are expecting something different than the teacher. I found when my kids were that young, they needed a break after school. My daughter had a.m. kindy so she'd come home and have lunch and play and do homework in the mid-afternoon, before she'd be hungry or tired. My son had p.m. kindy and I had him do the homework the next morning. Good luck

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

Did he know how to write letters before Kindergarten? If not, and this is his first experience, he might really be having trouble writing those letters. Try to back off a bit, and look into finding alternative ways to help him write his letters afterschool.

He might do better if you write the letters on lined paper first, then have him write directly (trace with his pencil) on the letters you wrote. Then after tracing them about 5 times or so, having him try writing them by himself on the following line. Lakeshore learning sells many handwriting tools, including (Zaner-Bloser) lined paper that is used in schools, to help teach early writers how to properly form their letters. If you do purchase Zaner-Bloser paper, be sure to get the Kindergarten lined paper. The paper changes it's line widths for each grade level. Beginner paper has very wide lines.





Get a guide on proper handwriting, and make sure he is seated properly at the table, and that he is holding his pencil properly, so he won't get hand fatigue. If he has an improper grip on the pencil (too tight or too loose) he may need a special grip for his pencil to help him hold it properly until his hand is stronger and better able to hold a pencil.




If you're not sure if you doing the right things to help him, call his teacher. She will probably have suggestions that will help. You don't want him to get too stressed out.

Last but not least some kids don't have the motor skills to handle a pencil properly at this age...they might be a later bloomer. So give him some time. If he continues to have problems by the end of the year, have him tested for something called dysgraphia. This is a disorder where people are unable to write properly. There are special therapies that should help him if that's the case. Right now, it's too early to tell if this is a factor.

See: http://www.as.wvu.edu/~scidis/dysgraphia.html

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

Using the creative approach with writing the name is a good idea. I would add to the list making the letters out of play doh. Finding letters in nature is fun, too, as is writing one's name in the sand or making it out of sticks.

Do talk with the teacher and find ways to have fun while doing homework. Do not get stuck in this battle for control. As a high school teacher, I have seen the far end of homework battles, and it gets even harder to reverse later on. Nip this in the bud.

I was wondering how many times the teacher is expecting your son to write his name. Ask.

Brain Gym has a clever way to write the small letters by using a sideways 8. It helps kids remember where to start when forming the letter. Look online.

I'm also wondering how many letters his name has. :) My daughter starts kindergarten next week. I'm wondering what I'm/she's in for. Good luck!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

I would skip the homework. It is WAY more important that your son learn to love school and learning than that he trace his name x number of times. You could try presenting letter writing as a fun game at a time when he is not tired or late in the evening. There is no evidence that there is any benefit to homework for kids prior to high school. The evidence for high school kids is inconclusive. He is in kindergarten - he will learn to write there. I specifically picked a kindergarten that does not have homework - I think family time is way more important and happily so do my son's teachers.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I would calmly explain to him that he's a big kid now and that big kids get homework. Tell him that you and his teacher expect him to do it, but that you do not expect it to be perfect since he is learning. My daughter was similar in kinder last year and it was because she wanted it to look perfect and couldn't do that yet. I encouraged her to just try her best then we can do something fun after.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

If it is actual homework for the class, then explain how the teacher is expecting it from every child, and just ask him to do hit best. If he does not do it perfectly, let it go. Just support him in making the effort. Maybe point out what he did wrong, but don't make him do it again, just advise him for the next time with that specific thing. If this is not homework for the class, it is harder because you do not have that leverage. So if it is your own thing for him, maybe make is shorter. Other ideas: Let him make some decisions with it, as if it is his own idea. Like how he wants to plan doing the homework. Give him small rewards, like points, and after a week of points, he gets a reward (anything from a dollar story gift, tv show, dessert, etc.), or pennies in his piggy bank.



answers from Omaha on

Try setting a timer, say 15 min. Once the timer goes off, he is done with homework for that day.
My daughter has trouble with her fine motor skills. She is also in kindergarten. I will write the word or her name in highlighter several times and have her write over my word. This has worked out well for us. 3 weeks in, and her writing has already improved.



answers from San Diego on

just another thought - but don't kids need their names on just about everything for school? why not have him practice on his own items? "we know this coloring book is yours - because see - here's your name on it. and you wrote it! wow"



answers from Los Angeles on

I guess I don't know how to handle it, but I would try not to stress your little guy out over it. Tell your husband that more than anything homework for this first year of school is setting a tone for his acadmic career- and while you want your child to understand that it is important, you really don't want him to come to hate it. As much as possible we want to keep learning fun both and school and at home- at least for as long as possible while they're young. I second the idea of the timer. Maybe you can lengthen it over time. If he's not finished but has been pretty focused then he's done. I bet if you write a note to his teacher (like "this is how far he got in 15 mins") s/he would be okay with that and it's probably good feedback.

Next question: Teaching Letters to Preschooler