12 Oct Just Say No to Preschool Pressure
Recently I was having a conversation about preschool with a mother of three children under the age of six. She explained to me that one of her current concerns is that the new preschool her three-year-old was attending sends him home with homework. Initially, she was shocked and confused considering her older child did not have this demand. Her resolution was to adopt the saying from the 1980’s war on drugs campaign. “Just say no” to the pressure this preschool was putting on her child. I applaud her and encourage others to do the same.
Over the past ten years there has been as increase in the demands placed on preschoolers to perform tasks formerly introduced in kindergarten. I have had countless conversations with parents about this. One of the reasons their child cannot complete the work given is become it is not developmentally appropriate. My resolution was to “just say no” because there is no rule that homework is mandatory. In fact, the National PTA and the National Education Association created a 10-minute Rule. It was established after extensive research from Duke University. The rule recommends that 10 minutes of homework is suggested starting in 1st grade and adding another 10 minutes per grade.
Therefore, homework should not be issued to Kindergarten. In fact, an overload of homework is associated with a decrement in performance according to other research. As a therapist, I have noted that some children also suffer from decreased self-esteem and stress on the small joints of their hands from too many expectations. Yet, despite this rule, the average Kindergartener completes 25 minutes of homework daily.
How should you handle the pressure to do homework in preschool? You can keep calm and politely let the teacher know that your child will not be completing any homework. Instead you will spend the time playing. Jay Giedd, a neuroscientist at the University of California, San Diego, states most kids younger than 7 or 8 are better suited for active exploration than informational or educational explanation. He adds, “The trouble with over-structuring is that it discourages exploration.” Hence, parents should take the time after school to engage with their child by participating in playful exercise and activities that improve and encourage creative, social, and fine motor skills like building with toys, coloring, drawing, assembling, and even food preparation.
I hope you find this tip helpful. If your child is having difficulty with age-appropriate activities for a preschooler, talk with your pediatrician about consulting with an occupational therapist for help. Have a playful day!
Amy Baez, MOT, OTR/L
Amy Baez is a pediatric occupational therapist, award-winning handwriting author, and Founder of Playapy. For more information about Playapy services and products, visit www.playapy.com or email [email protected]playapy.com.