How to help your four year old with her homework


Regular readers will know Flea started big school this month. I definitely had mixed feelings about her starting full-time in a mainstream school only a couple of weeks after turning four, but she is thriving. It's a lovely school, she loves the children in her class, and having a small group means she's settled in and made lots of friends really easily.

But there's homework. Seriously? Homework? For four year olds? Okay, so it's not trigonometry but still.

Every day Flea brings home a folder in her bag. Inside are some flash cards and cut out words to match up, a small early reading book to look at, and a sheet of card with phonic sounds and short words for Flea to 'revise'. Also in the folder is Flea's 'reading record' where the teacher comments on how she's done each day, and specifies what homework needs to be done.

I've now worked out the best way to help Flea with her homework. And I'm going to share my secret with you. 

Here's what I do: after Flea's in bed, I take everything out of the folder and mix it up. I make sure to put the flash cards in a different order. Then I put everything back in the folder, and put the folder in Flea's school bag.

It's actually a perfect plan. What I've realised is that the next morning, Flea will go through these materials with her teacher. So it's not like she's not reading the book at all. What's more, her teacher invariably writes: "Great reading today, well done!" in Flea's reading record, and even adds a smiley face. So Flea is obviously keeping up with what's expected of her.

I know, I'm a terrible parent. But I just don't believe a child's life should be all about school at this age. So I will often collect Flea from school and we go somewhere. We might visit friends, we might go swimming, or we might go to the beach or the park. We might go out for dinner together, or go to the book shop. We might just go home and play. But personally, I think at her age, all of those things are more important than doing an extra 15 minutes of school work.

Still, I won't be mentioning any of this at Parents' Evening next week. Just in case.

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