How Much Studying Is to Much for a 6 Year Old ?

Updated on November 07, 2019
R.B. asks from Rockville, MD
13 answers

Hi all,
Sorry, this is a long post please tolerate my rambling. Thanks in advance.
I have a 6-year-old (1st grader) who I am co-parenting with my ex. My daughter is pretty smart she was reading chapter books at 4. Her dad is Nigerian and believes that kids have to be SMART and continues to pressure her to do math problems all the time. The problem comes in as
1. He is teaching her differently than how she does it in school, also forcing her to memorize multiplication tables, and do 3rd and 4th-grade math
2. He continues to tell her that she has to do it to be smart, and if she does not she will not be smart
3. He now has taken to sending her math problems to my home sectioned by dates for her to do.
4. She tells me she is afraid when he asks her if she has done the work and to tell him she has not done the work.
5. He always wants her to get everything correct. Even on the standardized testing done at school his first question to her is, "Did you get all right?"

I do not subscribe to his strict academic standards, and I feel for her and do not know how to help her. My concern is as she gets older and he continues like this, she will have the undue pressure that if she is not the perfect student that she will be a disappointment.

The last tirade from him is below and it was sent because I do not make her do the math that he sends and I have told her life is not about being just smart.........

His Text

As I have said time and time again you don’t want what is good for this your daughter. Sometimes I wonder why too. I can’t imagine what parent discourages their child from learning - especially In this age of math and science! Even if she is going to be an artist mastery of mathematical principles will make her better.
I will keep praying to God to help XXXXXX so that this situation that you created would not negatively impact her future or that God gives her the wherewithal to get over the hurdles that you have been put on her path to success.

Does anyone know of any links or good books for adults and kids that might help put things into perspective? (I ask for a kids' book because if she reads it and repeats it to him he does not hear "My mom said". Once she starts with My mom said it seems that he must shoot it down).
Thank you and sorry again for the lengthy post.

Thanks for all the great ideas so far.
Sorry for the confusion I am not expecting her to defend anything or to be the go-between, it is just that she talks about stuff that happens when she is will me to him and she will say and usually My mom said, it is not me telling her to tell him anything. I take the approach of not discussing her dad with her. She is the type of child that if she reads something she will talk about it, so I figured it would be more productive if she said she read it (it makes him happy because she is reading) and it is not a statement coming from me that needs to be shot down because I came up with it.

What can I do next?

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So What Happened?

I have joint custody with her dad out of a 14-day rotation she is with me 9 nights and her dad 5 nights, which is a Friday, Sat, Sunday, Wed, Thursday alternating breakdown. On my weekends I make sure we do something active out of the house.

As they say, hindsight is 20/20 it was after the fact I realized that many of his actions were him controlling me. I used to wave it off as him not knowing how things are in the US as he has grown up in another country and that was how they did it there. He is still doing it to this day by even making one-sided decisions with portions of his court-mandated child support.

Thanks for all the great ideas so far.
Sorry for the confusion I am not expecting her to defend anything or to be the go-between, it is just that she talks about stuff that happens when she is will me to him and she will say and usually My mom said, it is not me telling her to tell him anything. I take the approach of not discussing her dad with her. She is the type of child that if she reads something she will talk about it, so I figured it would be more productive if she said she read it (it makes him happy because she is reading) and it is not a statement coming from me that needs to be shot down because I came up with it.

More Answers


answers from New York on

Talk to your child's teachers to see what is taught in school. We do not teach multiplication in first grade. That is a second grade skill. When a student becomes too advanced the school system will not be able to teach them and they will get bored and act out from bordom.
I am a reading intervention specialist and one on one math aid for kindergarten thru third grade. The students who know the info being taught are bored.
We do not teach multiplication to first graders. By law we have to give one hour of homework. No more than that as children need time for playing and the skills that free play teaches.(imaginary play teaches them to be innovative and to create their own story. It helps them to solve problems in real life.)
She should be making friends and learning how to be social. She should be having stuffed animal tea parties and playing with dolls.

10 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I want to be respectful of his country and his perspective, but I would consider his approach to be extreme for any child, and not developmentally appropriate for a six year old.

Even if he has full custody, I don’t think he has the right to tell you how to parent. You can say to your daughter, “this is how your father was raised and this is what he thinks is important”, and “there is room in the world for different perspectives,” and share with her your perspective.

Tell her father, “I will always show respect for your opinions, but I do not share them, and I will not be doing your work with our daughter while she is with me.” Maybe also let him know that of course you share his desire for what is best for your daughter, you just don’t agree on what that looks like.

See if you can discuss your concerns with her teachers. They might be in a better position to help him understand that the kind of pressure he is placing on her is very inappropriate and potentially harmful.

9 moms found this helpful


answers from Santa Fe on

That is crazy extreme for age 6! But what can you do? There will be different rules when she is at his house versus at your house and she is going to have to grow up navigating this. :( I think it is way too much pressure. I agree with you that she will feel stress and may get burned out young. When with you, you can focus on relaxing, keep up with any school homework, and do fun things together that are not academic. Learn to ski. Visit a state park. Tour a cave. Take her ice skating with a friend. Whatever fun things you have nearby. She might benefit from a good therapist at some point. Just keep telling her you love her no matter what.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

It sounds like he is very controlling both with your daughter and you. Of course this is too much for a six year old. I feel for her. It is obvious that he has no interest in your opinion so there is no need for you to argue with him. I would be very clear that you have your own style of parenting and are not going to bend to his demands. Be a calm loving influence to your daughter to counter his pressures on her. Consider a counselor for her as well as yourself. Perhaps her teachers at school can talk to him. What is the parenting time split? How much do you have her to provide age appropriate parenting?

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

I am sorry you and your daughter are going through this. It sounds like you and your ex are on completely different planes about this - perhaps that's one of the reasons he's your ex.

I don't know if this dilemma is due to cultural differences, personality differences, philosophical differences, or some combination. Or perhaps some desire to control you through controlling your child. Was he abusive and controlling when you were together? But it's abusive. He's blaming you for "the situation."

As this country is starting to come to grips with the folly of its obsession with standardized testing and as more and more schools, colleges and parents are opting out, it's a shame he is clinging to a particular viewpoint.

I'm sorry he views math and science as being supreme in "this age" and I'm sorry he thinks she needs those things to be an artist, or a social worker, or a music teacher. Or happy. Memorizing is ridiculous. Six-year-olds should NOT be memorizing multiplication tables at all, and they should not be doing homework at this level when assigned by a parent. Or by a teacher, for that matter. I disagree vehemently with the response below that says she must be enrolled in Kumon or something else. She doesn't need to be. In fact, unless she has a burning desire, she shouldn't be.

There are all kinds of learning. Kids learn through play, through reading, through visits to museums, through social activities, through art and music and dance...He's so wrong if he thinks he is "making her smart" - he is making her stressed, making her regimented, making her a regurgitation machine spewing facts. That is so far from "smart" that it's ridiculous. I'm sorry he has such a narrow view of intelligence. So I suggest you ignore his dictates to provide her with worksheets, and you protect your time with her. He may continue to torture her and, as she grows older, she will resent him and not wish to spend time with him. I think you should alert her teacher and hopefully get him to attend the school parent-teacher conference so the teacher/staff see what this child is up against. Let them explain the many types of assessments available, and how standardized testing of facts and recitation of times tables misses 90% of her abilities.

If you see signs of anxiety in her (sleep problems, eating problems, any negative habits or self-harm), consult her pediatrician immediately.

I'd work with the school psychologist on wording your daughter might use if the "my mom says..." triggers him. (Which, by the way, tells me it's about his anger toward you in general and not about her and her education.) But he's got to learn, perhaps through family counseling, that shutting her down is highly negative and very damaging.

I'm not sure you can educate him - he seems to have his own view of "education" and your views aren't included. You may have to limit her time with him but you'll have to go through the legal system to do that.

Start with the schools, her doctor (and maybe an outside counselor), and your lawyer, I think. Maybe he just needs some help and assurances regarding the public education process in this country, and some awakening about experiences he may have had as a child (which perhaps damaged him and made him so angry and so concerned about inadequacies?) - perhaps he will consider not doing to his child what was done to him.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Miami on

I would have your attorney work with the court on this. He is going to make her hate learning. The court advocate can tell him point blank that he has no business telling her that she isn’t smart if she doesn’t do math 3 grades above her level. That’s crappy parenting. And he seems to be making her afraid of him, if I’m reading this right, and that should be addressed.

He cannot hold you to having math “due” to HIM. If he wants her to do math that the school doesn’t assign, he can only have her do it on the 5 days they are together. Put your foot down with him on that. Period.

Oh - and NO, 6 year old first graders DON’T memorize multiplication tables in school, no matter what a poster on here says. Good grief.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I'm sure the school (teacher) or school counselor/psychologist, and it may be more relevant - specific to your child, would have some links, pamphlets or resources you could refer your child's father to.

I've heard of cases where they reached out to the parent who was putting un-due pressure on the child. Would that not be the way to go? Especially if it is causing the child stress?

Just keep some of these texts and show them - so that you can come up with a plan that's in your child's best interests. I would not put it back on your child. I think that's a bit much for a child that age. Just have your daughter's father attend some of the parent-teacher conferences or schedule a meeting at the school that you can both attend.

Start there.

ETA - I like Diane's suggestion "Start with the schools, her doctor (and maybe an outside counselor), and your lawyer, I think."

When I said keep the texts (emails, etc.) - that's for showing a counselor, lawyer if necessary of his views and domineering nature if needs be. If the teachers and school counselor can't assure him that your daughter is on track for learning in this country and all is well, then it will be necessary to go that route.

If he's controlling and abusive, then you need to intervene for your daughter's sake - if he starts to control her as he did/tries to control you.

My mom was a kindergarten teacher for many years and taught many children from different backgrounds. Some parents put a lot of undue pressure on their children - some had to be geniuses in their parents' minds and others put no value on education at all. It's frustrating because in families where the parents are together, moms and dads may disagree on how to raise their children academically.

Hopefully some of this advice will be helpful. Come back and let us know how things work out. Good luck :)

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

This is waaaaaay too much pressure on a child!!! And she is too young to be put in the middle and having to defend herself from not doing all the work he gives her. And I don’t think she should be spending all her free time becoming.”smart” and trying to get all the answers on every test right. This is what drives children to suicide. Do whatever it takes to get this through to him. Meetings with her dr, teacher, principal, therapists, divorce judge etc. I absolutely despise parents that demand perfection from their children! There needs to be a balance between fun and academics.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Tampa on

That’s a tough situation. For a kid and for you !

My husband and I are from former ussr.. and my husband is 52 his math, history and few others are by far much more superior bs his American friends ( and most are with higher education) I did some schooling in Ukraine but came her for most. And yes we all had to learn multiplication table over the summer before 1st grade.

School in US is borderline ridiculous. I speak with many moms who homeschool and most of the work is done in 3 hours. And most homeschooled children are advanced when compared.
Our daughter is in pre k in private but it’s an IB school she is 4 1/2 they are going over their letters and starting to read. She absolutely loves her school and teachers!

My 2nd born is a math wiz. I mean he absolutely loves math and challenges.. so hubby is teaching him. He is actually bored in math class that’s already advanced honors.

So maybe you can talk with him and come to some sort of compromise. Voice your opinion that she will not be doing that much work at your house. It’s good to have a well balanced child. Basically put your foot down. Also arrange a meeting with him, you and teachers. See what they say. Maybe offer him to send her to a respectable private school, maybe he wants to homeschool her. Explain that play dates, zoos, kids parties and just bumming around the house and watching tv with you is important as well.

It’s pretty much between you and him. And you know him better than us-figure out what approach will work with him to get him to ease up.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

You and your ex need to get some classes on successful co-parenting.
You both are not working together - it's going to be a disaster.
While standards are all good and well - the brain learns at it's own pace.
Not every kid is a wonder kid who can work way ahead of their age/grade level.
A very few can graduate high school by 12 years old - and even with that ability it takes a lot of support from parents to make it happen.
And even if they do - a genius child often suffers in social development.

Your daughter would/should not be expected to write a doctoral thesis at 6 years old.
There are many kids who don't really take to reading till they are 7 years old.
While there's some leeway in what is expected/taught at age/grade level - making her hate learning is a sure way to have this all blow up in everyone's collective face.

I hesitate to suggest that what your ex wants to happen during your custody time with your child should not happen - some standards are good to have.
But your ex is being unreasonable - this is where you and he need to have a meeting of the minds.

You need to talk to your pediatrician and teachers about this.
Get some professional opinions on your daughters development and abilities because I really doubt your ex will read books/studies and change his mind about his demands.
He can show you books about tiger moms - it's not going to change your mind.
To me it seems like your exes approach has more potential to cause damage to your daughter.

You need a counselor so you and he can meet and you can tell him
"when Sally is with me we are not going to take or work on any homework assignments that you assign her. She works on what her teacher assigns to her and that's it.".
It's not your daughters job to explain anything to him.
She's in a bad position if she has to say 'my mom' to your ex about anything.
You are putting her in the middle of an argument that you and your ex need to hash out.
This is also why you and ex need classes in co-parenting.

It's not that you don't want her to succeed.
You want her to enjoy learning and working way ahead of her grade level is more harmful than working at grade level and he has to be made to see that his approach is out of whack and unreasonable.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I agree to keep it light when she's at your house. First graders should be playing after school, not doing homework or worksheets.

However, as a teacher who has seen far too many kids who don't know their times tables when they are in high school, I don't see a problem with him reciting times tables with her. She can learn them at 6, and it would be beneficial. But his teaching methods sound counterproductive. Learning should be fun, not a chore.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I was confused. This is a different mom of 2 than the mom that's frequently posts. This is the first post for this Mom of 2.

Now to the question. More information would be helpful. Who has primary custody of your daughter? Sounds like she's full time with her Dad with you getting parenting time. Is a court involved? Perhaps you're not married and don't have a court ordered plan. How much time is she with you? How is studying with her Dad affecting her in ways other than her asking you to stop it?

Are all his posts sounding as reasonable as this one? He is telling you why he wants her to study this way. I don't agree with his method but I respect his right to do what he thinks is right for his daughter. If he grew up in Nigeria this is likely common there.

I suggest that you focus on your differences and approach him in an intellectual way. He can parent the way he thinks is best. You can parent in the way you think is best. Because he is very adamant, it's unlikely he's going to change his mind but perhaps you can ask for a compromise. Tell him you respect his right to teach his daughter in the way that he thinks is best. Ask him to compromise by allowing you to teach in the way you think is best while she's with you. No "homework" at your house. I would have an impartial person help you in doing this. Try to not attack him. This is a difference of opinion, not right or wrong. I suggest you find a professional who can help you with this. Start with talking to the school counselor. If you have a lawyer talk with him.

I suggest that parents fighting is as damaging as her Dad requiring that she study. Start changing a step at a time.

If you don't already have a court order or a lawyer, what I suggest will be more difficult. I urge you to find an attorney who may be able to help.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Diego on

Funny, I am like your ex husband. I recommend putting her in Kumon math. They give homework sheets and have tutoring sessions twice a week. It will be a compromise for you both and really help your daughter become a math wizard as they work at each child’s individual pace and have levels. She will have her own instructor so will take the pressure off you and teacher her responsibility. I highly recommend.

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