Parenting Matters: Helping Your Young Learner Get a Solid Start in School

Dear Carol,
My son started kindergarten this fall. He loves going to school, but they have started sending home worksheets for math and vocabulary and he doesn’t want anything to do with getting his homework done. I end up helping him by doing it for him. Any suggestions?

Dear Erika,
It is great that your son loves school; that is the first and most important step to lifelong learning. He probably is enjoying the socialization that comes with having lots of friends to play with everyday. That in itself is an important step in his education. His vocabulary will increase the more he interacts and has conversations with his peers, with you, and with his teachers.

Doing his homework for him does not help him, but doing it with him will show him that you know the importance of his work, and he will learn from your engagement with him and interest in his work. One way to encourage getting his homework done is to make it “come alive” for him. Young children are concrete learners and have to see, hear, feel, smell, and taste the things they are learning about. In other words, use all their senses.

Here are a few suggestions to help him complete his worksheet and have fun at the same time:

Make his math worksheet real and meaningful to him. For instance if he has to begin to learn adding and subtracting, start with what is familiar to him. Take out all his small cars, count them together, write down the total, and then sort them. You have just practiced math skills.

To practice addition, give your son real-life scenarios, such as: “We have five people in our family and our neighbors are coming for dinner. They have five people in their family, too. How many plates do we have to put on the table for dinner?” He can count five and add five more and come up with 10. If he needs help use the little people from his building or play sets for counting.

When doing worksheets on vocabulary, spelling or definitions, play matching games.  Make up cards with stickers. Put the word truck on one card and a sticker of a truck on another and have him match them up. Increase the complexity of the vocabulary words as you go along. This will also help with letter and word recognition, as well as, spelling.

You and your son can have fun learning together. Play is one of the best ways to learn and to reinforce what is taught in the classroom.

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