Believe it or not, homework is an essential part of kindergarten. It gives the students a great opportunity to begin organizing the use of their time and to set up successful habits that will last for years to come. Homework should not take long or be frustrating. I believe 10-20 minutes is appropriate for this age, depending on their mood and your family schedule.
For homework, your child should do two things each and every day:
I will be sending home books for your child to read to you in their messengers. Most books are to be returned the next day, but books with their name on them are theirs to keep and read over and over again for fluency. If a book does not come home, please have other books around that your child can read to you. Each child is different, but it is okay if they have books memorized! Just let them know to look and point to the words for real reading. As they grow in reading skills, I would continue your routine of reading to them each day as well. This models fluency and love of reading. Reading to your children is one of the most important things you can do to help them succeed in school.
2. Do an activity
The activities you choose should reinforce and practice skills they need to master. Sometimes I will send home specific activities to do, and sometimes you will pick your own. This way, you can personalize it to your child's needs. There are ideas in below and printables on the Sight Words and Math pages. Also, under Useful Links you will find a handwriting practice website to make printables and the Starfall website which is a good homework activity as well.
Where do I start?
When choosing an activity each night, be sure not to run before you walk. Work on what is needed first for your child. I would recommend, for example, letter names, phonemic awareness, and sounds before sight words. :)
The Alphabet Chant: To begin, start with the Alphabet Chant. They need to know that inside and out. Print an extra one, cut it up and have them pick a letter from a bag and say the chant for that letter. Find creative ways to review the letters they don't know each night. Pick a handful of letters to master each week and keep adding to them.
Phonemic Awareness: Rhyming and Identifying Beginning Sounds. This is the next step. These are activities done orally. The child listens and responds. Read the directions on the homework sheets the get ideas.
Letter names and Sounds: Learn the letter names and the correlating sounds.
Activities to practice letters and sounds:
- Write the letters and say the sound.
- Make the letters out of play dough. Paint the letters, use chalk, markers, etc.
- Scavenger hunt--Find objects that begin with the given letters.
- Car practice--Find words that contain the letters on signs around town.
- List and draw five words that begin with each letter.
- Look for the letters in books, magazines and newspapers.
- Review the alphabet chant. Have your child point and say it to you.
- Be creative! Make up your own letter game! (memory match, go fish, etc.)
- Go to www.starfall.com and click on the ABC practice.
Phonemic Awareness: Blending and Segmenting. Blending is putting sounds together to make words and segmenting is listening to a word and breaking it down to the sounds they hear. Both are oral activities.
Sight Words: These words can be learned throughout the year. Be sure to have them memorize, not sound out. I sometimes call them SNAP words because they have to know them in a snap.
Activities to practice sight words:
1. Write each word and then read it. Use a favorite pen, crayon, paint, chalk, etc.
2. Write each word and then chant the letters.
3. Write a sentence, letter, or story using the words.
4. Look for the words in a book.
5. Make note cards with the words and practice reading them over and over.
6. Stomp, sing, whisper, or clap the letters to each word.
7. Turn out the lights and shine a flashlight on each word and read them.
8. See how many words you can read in 2 minutes. Race your previous time.
9. Write the sight words on your bathroom mirror and read every time you look in the mirror.
Numbers: Number names, writing numbers, ordering numbers, counting, etc. are activities you should include each week.
Handwriting: Practice sheets can be printed and are an easy way to work at home on letters or sight words.
*Other activity ideas will come home as the year continues and their needs advance, but hopefully this gives you an idea of where to start. Set aside a time and spot for daily homework routines and you will definitely see increased progress over time. Remember that the attention span of your child is short and homework shouldn't be frustrating. Five or ten minutes may be enough on some days and other days your child may be motivated and want to work longer. Make it fun and mix it up and always remember to read each night.