Homework for Preschool, Pre-K, or Kindergarten
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
I believe every parent and teacher should be required to read The Read-Aloud Handbook: 7th Edition by Jim Trelease. Jim explains, very clearly and with plenty of anecdotes, humor and wisdom, the importance of reading aloud to children.
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
A useful tool that can help you not only assess students, but communicate progress to parents is ESGI. ESGI auto-generates personalized parent letters, in both English and Spanish, that you can use to easily show parents their child’s progress and provide them with personalized practice cards to help their child at home.
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
- Numbers 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)
More Teaching Tips from Pre-K Pages
Starting in February, 2008, the first grade team at Swift Creek Elementary will be sending home a monthly homework calendar each month instead of the weekly worksheets because research shows that worksheets don't raise student achievement in the lower grades, and research shows that worksheets don't guarantee learning. There is a notion that homework helps teach responsibility, and with your child completing Home Reading every night and returning their home reading folder everyday, we feel they are learning how to be responsible with that. Instead of worksheets, which require low levels of thinking skills, we have created monthly homework calendars to create higher level thinking opportunites at home. The monthly homework calendar schedule is designed to be completed on your family's timetable in a "pick and choose" fashion. Some of the activities are oral, written and/or research based, and prior to returning the homework calendar for the month, parents must initial or sign the calendar before turning it in.
My Monthly Homework Calendars
Homework Calendar Template (doc)
September Homework Calendar
October Homework Calendar
November Homework Calendar
December Homework Calendar
January Homework Calendar
February Homework Calendar
March Homework Calendar
April Homework Calendar
May Homework Calendar
June Homework Calendar
July Homework Calendar
Other Monthly Homework Calendars
Science Homework Calendars from the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh
Kindergarten Homework Calendars from www.kellyskindergarten.com
Mr. Lyons' Homework Calendars
Dr. Jean's Homework Calendar - March (more at www.drjean.org)
Dr. Jean's February Family Homework Project (more at www.drjean.org)
Other Homework Options
The There are a lot of other things out there, here are few links to some of the other stuff out there:
Compact for Reading - grade K (100 pages)
Compact for Reading - grade 1 (99 pages)
Compact for Reading - grade 2 (100 pages)
Compact for Reading - grade 3 (100 pages)
The first grade program at Swift Creek Elementary includes an important home component called Home Reading. Each night, Monday through Thursday, your child will be home a plastic, durable Home Reading folder which will contain two books, a Higher Order Thinking Skills: HOTS fan for questioning, a home reading directions sheet and a reading strategy card. The first book is a book for your child to read to you, it is a book on your child's independent reading level. The second book is a Parent Read-Aloud for you to read to your child. Research shows that reading to your child well after they become a reader increases reading fluency and comprehension. The Home Reading program would be not be successful without parent help. Parent volunteers are needed to read and listen to students read everyday from 9:30-11:00am.
Home Reading Directions Page
Home Reading Givens
Home Reading Folder Cover Sheet (tape to cover of HR folders)
Home Reading Folders (they last all year)
Nightly Reading Calendar Sheet (from www.drjean.org)
Connections for Homework Success
Grade 1 Connections - published by Wake County Public Schools. Creating Good Homework habit section is on page 2.
Elementary Connections - K-5, Wake County Public Schools
Word Wall Words
Phonological and phonemic awareness, spelling patterns and phonics rules are taught in the Word Work portion of the first grade balanced literacy block. This is an important component of our balanced literacy block because students learn to manipulate letters and sounds so they may be able to create rhymes, blend and segment letters and sounds, substitute beginning and ending sounds, and delete sounds. Click here for weekly word wall words, order and sequence in first grade.
Common consonant ending blends: -ng, -nk, -mp, -lt, -st
Common consonant beginning blends: bl, gr, st, tw, sp, fl
Common vowel word chunks: ai, ou, ow, oy, ee, ea, oi
Common consonant word chunks: ch, sh, th, wh, ck
High Frequency Sight Words
Click here to see a list of the first 150 words that students should be able to read and write fluently.
Lightning Words are the 35 sight words from Kindergarten. At the beginning of first grade, we spend 3 weeks before officially starting first grade Wall Wall Words reviewing and relearning these Kindergarten words. We call them Lightning words because we want students to know them as fast as lightning.