What a find! The Daily Telegraph published an article about homework being offered to preschoolers. It seems there are a couple of early learning centres which are offering worksheets to children to fill possible gaps in learning or to help prepare their children for school. Interesting idea, but worksheets…really?!

The article included a couple of very interesting comments from child psychologist Dr. Michael Carr-Gregg suggesting that this was possibly a little unnecessary. He suggested,”four-year-olds needed to feel safe, secure, valued and heard, rather than ‘hot-housed’. Most importantly to play. Nothing develops and lights up their brain like play. We are trying to force these kids into a cognitive state they are not ready for yet,” he said. The article even went onto look into what the Department of Education suggested regarding homework and the researched evidence around its value for young learners, but alas no help there either. There is a reason for this!

So what can science tell us about early learning and specifically this notion of ‘homework’ for preschoolers? First and foremost the best kind of learning comes from play which is full of purpose. The purpose is all about developing well-being through play which captures powerful relationships, problem solving capabilities, thinking skills and young people with a strong sense of agency. Now there is some homework worthy of your preschoolers time.

Research shows that there are a number of ways well-being can be successfully worked towards. For our context here, homework for preschoolers, I suggest two main ways to achieve a goal of well-being. Firstly, strong and purposeful relationships, which build confidence and capacity, can change everything. If a person struggles with creating great relationships then life is going to be super tricky to navigate. At preschool great relationships is a core competency to focus on. A preschooler then must be to learn how to create a relationship, strengthen and trust one, and negotiate its hard parts because it is critical to a successful life.

The second way to achieve the well-being goal is to develop thinking and problem solving skills. The reasoning behind this notion is that when a person can independently solve problems they face, with creative and critical thinking, they are able to influence their world. That’s called agency and that matters – big time.

So with this in mind I’ll give you some homework do to with your preschooler… It will be homework to last a lifetime and have an influence which will never fade:

  • Show your preschooler how to love, care, be thoughtful, share and be gentle (don’t confuse this with being weak). Make sure you are explicit and step it out so that they know how to do it themselves. When they get it, get excited and celebrate one of the greatest skills they will ever learn.
  • When your preschool faces a problem, talk them through the steps to solve it. Help them achieve their goal rather than you doing it for them. It doesn’t matter what the problem is; from tying up a shoelace to learning to read or write their name, ‘doing with’ is always better than ‘doing for’.
  • Talk with your young learner about whatever it is they find interesting and then explore it some more together. Also show them how to navigate through all the choices life has to offer. Help them to become experienced at making choices on their own, know what they value and why and how to become active in their world by making great choices which empower them and those around them.

Finally, if you are going to give your preschooler homework make sure that it is the right kind, otherwise it is madness.

 

 

(worksheets… honestly?!)