How to Help Your Four-Year-Old With Homework

I didn’t know what to expect when I came across this blog piece, How To Help Your Four-Year-Old With Homework,” but it put a smile on my face when I read it.

Have a nice weekend.

How To Help Your Four-Year Old With Homework
by Who’s the Mummy

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.

10 thoughts on “How to Help Your Four-Year-Old With Homework

  1. This is a cute essay, but I think the author should be encouraged to speak to the teacher. Otherwise the system just continues.


  2. Our school introduced a program for three year olds this year….soon there will be flash cards for toddlers and classes to go along with it.

    I kept my child in daycare til age 5 simply for the reason that I thought “school” was a level of sophistication that was not necessary for someone under 5. I think we are losing respect for who children are and what they need. I applaud Mom’s actions but I agree with FedUpMom…homework for 4 year olds must stop.

    Last night I did the same thing for my 8 year old’s math homework. A page with a grid was provided. “Draw a square”, it said. Draw a rectangle, Draw two other shapes…find the perimeter of all those shapes..
    Find the perimeter of two rooms in your house. How is an 8 year old supposed to do that without an adult helping? Busy, busy, busy work, that could just as easily been done at school in teams of two or three.
    I drew the shapes and we counted the squares together to find the perimeter. I’m not measuring any rooms.


  3. This post made me smile, too, but it also made me feel ashamed.

    I was just thinking, last night, about how the school is forcing me to turn my daughter into a liar and a cheater.

    She’s discovered (on her own) that spelling words 1-10 use ‘ea’ for the long e sound and words 11-20 use ‘ee’. She’s not learning to spell the words, just playing the system. I call that cheating and, I’m ashamed to say, I let her do it because I feel that actually learning to spell 20 words (plus 5 bonus words) is inappropriate for her age. BTW, one of the bonus words was meteorologist (did I spell that right?) Second grade, people.

    They do nothing to practice these spelling words in school. They’re sent home and told to write them 3 times per day. My daughter struggles with writing (she’s a lefty) and by the time she’s finished, she can’t even read what she’s written.

    I certainly don’t have the time to drill her on the words, though I do my best.

    And, since I’m not ALLOWED to read to her (and I do), if the teacher asks if Mommy read to her, she’s allowed to say, “no.”

    How are we supposed to raise honest, trustworthy, stable children if the schools force us to lie and cheat to meet their impossible standards?

    And yes, it eats at me but I really feel I’m given no other options.


  4. to zzzzz….spelling in our Grade 3 class is also based on those letter combinations…they want them to classify the words according to the way the letters are grouped….it’s got nothing to do with the words almost. I have no clue how this helps a kid to spell. But they work with about 20 words and do a test on Fridays on a “selection” of those words. There’s no grading, so it doesn’t count for anything but I don’t see how they are learning the words.

    “Meterologist” sounds a bit complex for grade 2…


  5. It still shames me that I allow, even encourage, her to cheat and lie that way. It’s a dilemma for me. Where do I draw the line?

    A few weeks ago, my daughter was supposed to get a prize from the “treasure box” at school but had missed the big dip into treasures because she was in speech.

    Her previous prize, 45 minutes sitting at the teacher’s desk, had yet to happen, too.

    In frustration, she “sneaked” a prize from the box, a ruler with some cutouts of animals.

    She told me about it and we talked. I told her I knew she was supposed to get a prize and that she was frustrated that she hadn’t gotten it but there was a right way and a wrong way and “sneaking” is the same as stealing.

    I sent her back to school with the ruler and a note to the teacher explaining what had happened. It was up to my daughter to apologize and up to the teacher how she wanted to treat it.

    It was scary for my daughter but, I felt, a good lesson. It tore my heart out to force her to return that 10 cent ruler, even though it was due her.

    It obviously gave the teacher a kick too, because she did finally allow her the time at the teacher’s desk and she has not missed a prize since.

    But how do I explain that it’s not okay to steal a 10 cent ruler that’s due you but it’s okay to cheat on a spelling test or lie about whether or not your mom reads to you? Especially when I’m not certain it is okay.


  6. First, I don’t think her strategy on the spelling test is cheating. It’s a strategy.
    Second, I wouldn’t coach her to lie…it puts her in a dilemma. I would confront the teacher head on and take your child out of the bind. You made her fess up about the ruler, so you need to do the same. It’s an adult problem, not a kid problem.


  7. Hi

    Thanks for posting my article (you can see it at

    I guess I’m being humorous to a degree in my piece – the teachers at Flea’s school know we don’t do the homework every night, and are perfectly supportive of this.

    So long as we’re reading with our children, or to our children, and encouraging a love of reading, that’s the most important thing at this age. We have always spent 30 minutes at the end of each day reading or telling stories, and I think that is more valuable for a 4 year old than any “homework”.

    I don’t tell Flea to pretend we’ve done the work – if a teacher asks her, I’ve no doubt that she’d be honest. And I’m fine with that.



  8. I agree and I have confronted the teacher and the principal. But the issue remains that she’s afraid that if the teacher asks her, she’ll get in trouble for admitting that her mommy reads to her.

    Let’s look at that again. She’s afraid she’ll get in trouble for admitting her mommy reads to her. That’s just so wrong.

    Anyway, the teacher has made a habit of asking my daughter questions that are really not her concern. I have spoken to her. I have spoken to the principal. But that doesn’t ease my daughter’s fears nor does it guarantee she’s not going to be asked again. I can’t be there every minute to jump in if she is asked.

    I also told her that, if the teacher asks a question that makes her uncomfortable, she can tell the teacher “My mom says to talk to her about it.”

    I did not coach her to lie. She asked, “If Ms. X asks me if you read to me, can I say ‘no’?” and I told her that’s okay with me.

    May be the wrong thing but no one said I’m the perfect mom 🙂 I still say it’s okay…I just wish neither one of us were put in that position.


  9. Sorry, I didn’t mean to sound critical…but does the teacher realize what the bind is and that she is placing a child in one when she asks? Because if she’s doing it to make the child squirm, I would have real problems with that. Most kids go thru a really strict phase where they are afraid of breaking rules, but your daughter shouldn’t have to feel worried about answering questions.


  10. I had a comment about the original post but Zzzzz’s comments seem to require a response more than the post does:

    What. Is. That. About? You are not “allowed” to read to your child? Says who? The teacher? The person the government randomly chose to instruct your child at school? THAT INFURIATES ME.

    Reading together is a bonding experience. It provides a chance to enjoy a book and time together, without pressure of “doing it the right way.” I STILL read to my fifth grader! I plan on reading aloud to my kids as long as they will let me. My reading hasn’t slowed any of their progress down; it encourages them to read MORE. There are days that I can’t get my eldest away from his books to start his schoolwork (I homeschool).

    Please. Please continue to read to your daughter. And encourage her to be proud about it. Not every little girl has a mom or dad who is able or willing to spend time reading with them.

    Oooh! This has me seething. SEETHING.

    The idea of 4 year old homework is laughable, but scary. I have an almost 4 year old and “teach” her alongside her brothers, but this is in a homeschooling environment. To provide her with a list that she must accomplish every day at THIS age is just… sad. They have the rest of their lives to have schedules and requirements to meet. Let them be LITTLE.


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