Friday, August 20, 2010

Kindergarten Homework and Uniforms

Some of my readers might be shocked that my two already have homework.  I don't remember homework from kindergarten, personally. 

Before I go on, I just wanted to explain exactly what the homework is.  The first part is reading.  Parents are supposed to read to their kids or with their kids three or four times per week. 

This part of the homework is pretty easy, since we were already doing that. 

The other part of the homework are simple worksheets and some suggestions.  They have a list of "amazing" words they are learning, and at home need to use those in a sentence.  The worksheets are along the lines of "find the letters in the picture" or match the shapes. 

I am not a fan of the current "teach to the test" mindset.  I think that it promotes kids who are good at memorizing and reguritating (ahem, like myself - I was a great test taker).  Do kids every really learn what they need to know?  Some of it sinks in.  And schools should have ways to measure a child's progress and make sure that the kids are getting the education they deserve. 

I also know that many people lament that kids are growing up too fast, aren't given enough time to play, etc.  I certainly don't agree with over-scheduling kids.  But reading with one's kids, discussing school and working simple worksheets are not unreasonable to my mind.  This homework takes a grand total of 30 minutes some weekdays.

It allows parents to understand where their children are at (in understanding) and for the kids to see how much the parents' value learning.  Is it busywork? Probably. Now if the homework weren't age appropriate, that would be one thing. 

The school my children attend requires uniforms.  Back in the day, I would have chafed at the idea of uniforms (I wasn't nominated as more original dressed in the yearbook for naught). 

I have to admit, I really like the uniforms.  Basically, the district has said that the kids have to wear a handful of plain colored collared shirts and khakis.  There are three or four various colors for shirts, pants, shorts and skirts.  So it is still very possible to be original within the guidelines.  The brands of clothes aren't important either.

The school is full of kids from different socio-economic backgrounds.  Whenever I see all the kids - you can't tell which kids are from families who struggle, and which families are better off.  I'm sure if I looked closely, I could probably tell. 

But the pressure is off the parents to buy the latest over-priced outfit from an expensive designer store.  Or multiples of these types of outfits.

And it's not as if kids won't eventually need to get used to uniforms or a dress code.  Almost everywhere I have worked has had a strict definition of what is acceptable and what isn't.  Some argue that kids will not have the responsibility or ability to be unique, and I can understand this argument.  But for now, it's made getting ready for school a lot easier for us. 

I grew up in a neighborhood where many of the families were much wealthier than we were.  Some of this will happen anyway - the subdividing and cultural shifts.  The longer this subdivision of class can be held off, the better - to my mind. 


C. L. Hanson said...

What fun! My kids didn't get any homework until first grade. Even then, it's quick stuff to train the kids (and their parents) to set aside time in their daily schedule for homework.

Re: uniforms. I feel about the same way you do in this issue. Where I grew up, the social pressure to wear EXACTLY a given brand from EXACTLY a small subset of stores was so intense, that it was practically a uniform. I remember being repeatedly teased throughout late elementary school and JR. High for not wearing the right things. The trouble is that it amounts to a uniform that some of the kids' families can't afford. So, in practical terms -- given the kids' maturity level up through early high school -- having them wear official uniforms may be quite appropriate.

Freckle Face Girl said...

I agree with you on homework & uniforms. I would have hated them growing up. Once I started working, I realized that quite a few days I would just wear black slacks & a button up shirt. How is that for not liking uniforms? Kids can still have nice or unique clothes for other occasions, but it is just easier all around to have school uniforms.

Chandelle said...

This is the first year that my kids will have uniforms, or, as the school prefers to call it, "school-approved attire." This is a Waldorf school so media- or commercial-oriented images or brands have always been discouraged, but parental compliance has been lax so finally the Board opted to go the uniform route. It's just as you described, khaki or navy bottoms with t-shirts or polo shirts in any color but black.

It is very simplifying, definitely, though there is significant debate about a school that claims to support creativity and individuality prohibiting personal expression in this way. Personally, the very idea of uniforms chafes at me ideologically, but I don't consider it worth the fight when I can also understand the argument that children can redirect their creative energy more productively if they're not so concerned with clothing.

Our school also differs broadly in socioeconomic scale, with some families being extremely well-off while others (ahem, like us) can barely scrape by, and I do like this equalizing force.