“Modern Kindergarten” is a tongue-in-cheek series based on my experiences as a new Kindergarten Mom.

The school year is in full swing.  We’ve had school pictures already and our fundraiser (trash bags!!) is behind us.  It’s time to settle into the drudgery that is homework.

When did kindergarten homework start to require the participation of the entire family?

So…We have a reading packet with various reading/writing/phonics assignments; it’s about 4 pages long, front and back.  That is handed out on Mondays and due on Fridays.  I actually emailed the teacher in panic-mode during the first week because I couldn’t figure out how to do the reading packet (not my proudest moment).  We have a reading project that requires us to read to her 10 minutes every day, and then she colors in spaces on a picture calendar to prove that we did it.  There is also a family project, that all of us have to work on together, decorating … something.  I haven’t quite looked at the details yet.  On top of that, there are “suggested additional activities” in that reading packet for each day of the week, and a weekly homemade book that comes home with more “extra optional work” in the back.  Add to that, there is show and tell on the Fridays that they’ve had a weekly “letter friend”.  (Sudden panic as I remember that I need to help her find something that starts with M before tomorrow.)

On top of all that, there are the little things to remember, like which days are non-uniform days, which days she’s not having hot lunch, which days are child care after school, which days are car line, etc.

I literally have a spreadsheet/calendar where I enter all these things.  I have to, or I will never remember all these little activities and their due dates.  I feel like I am back in college again, trying to juggle working during the day and homework/projects at night.  My husband and I take turns doing the 10 minutes of reading every night, but otherwise most of the homework and projects ends up falling on me, the mom, to organize and remember.  He will have to join in on that family project, once I read the instructions and find out what we’re supposed to do.

It’s exhausting.  Mothers with multiple kids in the school system?  I applaud you, seriously.  How do you not lose your mind keeping track of different kids with different teachers and different assignments?

When I was 12, I had to write a 20-page report (by hand, kids!) complete with bibliography and index cards with cites.  My parents had absolutely no participation in that project except to drive me to and from the library so I could find my reference information.  Ah, the good old days.

In fact, aside from the 9th and 10th grade algebra and geometry that had me weeping tears of frustration as my dad desperately tried to help me get a passing grade, I don’t have any recollection of a time when my parents sat with me while I did my homework.  For that matter, I definitely don’t remember any “family projects” or “extra assignments to do with your child” either.  I honestly do not remember having my parents as involved in my schoolwork as I seem to be with my daughter’s.  What has changed?

It worries me a little that there are so many “extra assignments to do with your kids”.  Are they are not teaching enough at school, so these home projects are necessary to make sure that she learns to read, write, do math, etc.?  Am I over-thinking this?

I understand that part of the reasoning behind this is to force allow parents to spend time being involved in their child’s education.  I get that.   But there is a major difference between helping your child out when they get stuck on an assignment, or walking them through a task they don’t understand … and having actual assignments for parents.  I don’t need assignments or projects.  I have enough to do in the 2 hours before bedtime that I have free after work.  (i.e., the nightmare that is dinnertime)

I will continue to slog through reading packets, do math activities that require cutting out paper bears, and work on family projects.  I will keep my little spreadsheet with due dates and things to remember.  I will sacrifice my free time to make sure that my daughter is keeping up with her lessons.  I might have a glass (or two!) of wine to get me through some of it.

And who knows — maybe I’ll learn something new.

Homework is a family affair.  High-five!  We got this!

Homework is a family affair. High-five! We got this!


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