How much homework is too much for pre-schoolers?

How much homework is too much for pre-schoolers?How much homework is too much for pre-schoolers? How much homework is too much for pre-schoolers?How much homework is too much for pre-schoolers?
How much homework is too much for pre-schoolers?

My five-year-old son recently came from school with some homework that left me shocked and confused.

His teacher wanted him (if we’re being honest, me) to make all of SIX musical instruments over one weekend.


She didn’t even give us the option of choosing which six items, based on what we could find around the home; she listed the instruments she wanted.


(I still don’t know what a castanet is, by the way).

How much homework is too much for pre-schoolers?

I Tweeted about it and soon realised that I’m not the only one who found this activity excessive.

In fact, I learned that many other parents have also been suffering silently with homework they found overbearing from teachers.

This led me to do a deep dive into how much homework is appropriate for a preschooler, and what to do if I thought he was overwhelmed.

What the experts say


There are a lot of varying opinions when it comes to homework, especially when it comes to tiny tots.

In fact, some scholars believe pre-schoolers should have no set homework at all – just a space to freely discuss their day and what they learned with their parents.

In the United States, the accepted guideline – supported by the National Education Association and the National Parent Teacher Association – is a 10-minute rule.

10-minute rule

Children should have no more than 10 minutes of homework each day for each grade they’ve reached.

So a first-grader would only have about 10 minutes of homework to do, for example.

In Jamaica, the Early Childhood Commission, which governs schools at the early childhood level, allows practitioners creative freedom when it comes to determining activities to meet each learning objective.

Interactive learning

The word “homework” isn’t even mentioned once in the Jamaica Early Childhood Curriculum Guide.

What is included are suggested ways for teachers to involve parents.

For example, the guide says things like “Ask parents to talk to children about the weather and encourage them to watch the weather report and forecast on television.”

What I did

Now my son is in his final year of kindergarten (K3) and will start first grade next year.

He is a brilliant child by every measure, and he very much enjoys academic work.

I wouldn’t dream of standing in the way of him reaching his full potential, especially knowing that the entire Jamaican educational system can be a bit… um… ambitious.

So it’s pointless to fight it if we plan to remain here.

Being realistic

But, and this is a big but..... We were NOT going to make six musical instruments!

I told his teacher just as much.

I suggested that she try the method his last teacher used, which I found very age-appropriate and effective.

She gave him one or two pages of homework each evening from his textbooks or suggested a short activity for us to do together.

On the few occasions when she gave us home projects, they were simple and could be done with little technical skills. For example, plant a pea and take it to class when it had germinated.

Changing workloads

She gave a long time frame for larger projects and didn’t give more than one or two of those per term (this new teacher had also given us other projects to work on at the same time).

I even suggested to her that she could have asked each child to make one instrument, then let the class be a band.

That way they could all learn the different instruments, with less burden on each child and parent.

Let’s just say the conversation didn’t go as well as I wanted.

Red flags

But in the end, we decided my child would not participate in that activity, or any other that I felt was too burdensome for us to complete.

Still, I’m happy that I spotted the red flag and spoke up on my son’s behalf, and in the process allowed other parents to voice similar experiences.

Hopefully, going forward, his teacher will be more conscientious with the homework she prescribes.

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