I Can’t Effing Believe My Toddler Has Daycare Homework

homeworkI have heard here on Mommyish and also from my sister who has an eight-year-old daughter that homework overload is a real thing. It gets even worse when you factor in uber-competitive parents that may take it upon themselves to finish little Timmy’s science project so that he gets first place in the science fair. Jerks.

So I was kind of expecting that I would have to put my foot down and force my kids to do their own homework when they started school. Or maybe I would be one of the parents that complained about “kids these days” getting too much homework for their age. Who knows?

But what I wasn’t prepared for was that all of this crazy competitive homework nonsense would start before my son turned two. In daycare, no less.

My son is in a really great in-home daycare program that seems to do a lot of interactive educational activities. I know that I would never be able to provide him with the same level of exploration at home. We’d probably be binge-watching Sesame Street all day long, like we do on the weekend.

I love the fact that he engages in so many activities and even brings home cute little art projects that basically consist of smeared paint. A few months ago, my son’s daycare provider sent home a mini “Me Doll” that he was supposed to decorate to represent himself.

Since he had no clue what was going on, I just let him haphazardly color all over the little doll, and then I turned it in. I also filled out his “About Me” sheet myself, thank you very much.

The day after I turned it in, my son’s teacher pulled me aside to have a little chat. Apparently, I had misunderstood the purpose of the assignment because the doll was supposed to be decorated much more elaborately than a few scrawls of crayon. Oops. The teacher also showed me a really freaking impressive Me Doll that another little girl’s mommy clearly made for her.


That put the fear of God into my husband and me. We didn’t want our son to be the lame ass kid with the terrible project every time they sent something home from daycare. On the next project, my husband went all out and used a myriad of impressive crafty supplies—yarn, glitter, stick-on letters, the works.

Since our kid can barely hold a crayon, we have little choice in the matter. Enriching a toddler’s life with art projects at daycare is awesome but sending home homework is overkill.

(photo: Getty Images)

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You can reach this post's author, Bethany Ramos, on twitter.
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  • http://carrie-murphy.com/ Carrie Murphy

    DUDE. This is ridic. You and your husband should boycott this. I totally understand you don’t want your kid to be the lame kid with the lame homework but WTF?!? If it were me, I would say something like, “We think X is too young to do take home projects and, as working parents, we don’t have the time or energy to do them for him. We’ll happily let him color on something if you send it home, but please don’t guilt-trip me if my son’s daycare homework isn’t an art project.” Maybe….if I were brave.

    • Bethany Ramos

      That is what I would say if I were brave too! ;) Working on it…

    • http://www.twitter.com/ilikeswears Dusty

      Make your husband do it! ;)

    • Julia Sonenshein

      YES. This is some straight up bullshit.

    • jane

      Alternately, you can say “oh, how nice” to each assignment, but you can say it in your “fuck you” voice. You know the one. What’s she going to do, fail you?

    • Mila

      Any version of this would be fantastic. I would just say I didn’t plan on my son having homework until he was at least in school. I’m happy to try to help but I don’t want work to cut into our family time. (And because it irritates me I would mention that babies can only color and that I don’t believe little Sally busted out the hot glue gun to do her own doll. FWIW). I really hope this was a one time thing. Geez.

    • Bethany Ramos

      Two times so far :(

  • Maria Guido

    That is just stupid. What the heck?

  • http://Mommyish.com/ Eve Vawter

    I need to see this fail doll your kid made

    • Bethany Ramos

      It had like one crayon scribble on it. But he sat with it for a really long time! A for effort!

  • elle

    If my son ever came home from his daycare with homework I would laugh and throw it away. Does that make me a bad mom? Maybe but he does not need homework yet. And when they said something to me at daycare I would say he is 2. He doesn’t need homework, and I don’t need to do his homework for him because I have a job and I already have home work. Gah, I hope this never happens to me, I so don’t want to be that mom. But I will if I have to. Pics of the doll fail?

    • Bethany Ramos

      Okay, this is not the same project because I couldn’t find that stupid doll, but this is the next homework project that my husband did because we felt the pressure to overachieve. It is a Thanksgiving turkey disguised as a dog, don’t ask. Obviously, a two-year-old did not do this!

    • Bethany Ramos


    • elle

      Omg that is cute! I am so not creative, I could never figure out how to hide a turkey as a dog, my husband would definitely have to do that.

    • Bethany Ramos

      Haha thanks. My husband is getting very good at crafting. I put the pasta on!!

    • Paul White

      this 30 year old couldn’t do that.

    • http://Mommyish.com/ Eve Vawter

      that is pretty damn adorable. It’s a Turdog!

    • jane

      Maybe with a dash, because I just read turd-og, instead of tur-dog.

    • marimba_girl

      Yep. Me too. hahahaha

    • Jessica

      We had this assignment too, in kindergarten. It’s great that she takes her job very seriously as an early childhood educator. It’s weird that she’s blatantly asking parents to complete assignments, and discouraging work done only by the child. Unless her motivation is inspiring parent/child interaction, but then she should tell you that and make it optional.

      ps- Great dog! We did “Sofia The Turkey” instead of Sofia the First.

    • Bethany Ramos

      Thanks! I take zero credit because I told my husband, don’t do it! I really do appreciate her commitment to her job, and she is an awesome lady. I’m just wondering what we’re expected to do on take-home projects…

    • FormerlyKnownAsWendy

      Ok, so I’m going to give you my (middle school) teacher wisdom and put your heart at ease. You can print this and give it to this nut. I mean..daycare provider.

      Homework is for the child. Not the parent. NEVER the parent. I refuse to accept work that parents have had too much of a hand in. You are teaching the child absolutely zero about how to be responsible and absolutely zero about the material. Parents are welcome to make sure the work is done, and even sometimes check the work. But providing answers is forbidden and ridiculous; doing too much for the child negates everything taught at school. Homework is for practicing skills.

      As for anyone under school age, homework is pointless. Shaming parents for not doing it properly is pointless. Giving perhaps a “family project” that they can work on together…for fun…may be okay. But shaming people who are paying you is a good way to have one less person paying you.

    • SarahJesness

      Agreed on the “pointless” thing. What’s a kid supposed to learn from decorating a doll?

    • Cat

      At the age of 7 or 8 it teaches planning and coordination skills… And maybe sewing. At 2, who knows. I know my mum made dolls that my brother designed when he was 4 or 5 which were great and very much a collaboration… But again, at 2 I don’t think he had the patience for something like that.

    • Bethany Ramos

      YES – thank you! I’ll remember this as my kids get to school age.

    • Lala

      Agreed that it was wierd she was encouraging parents to complete assignment unless it was supposed to be a work together project with the parents Which is absolutely ridiculous for a two year old to have to do anyway. Why can’t we let kids be kids!

  • Larry Drew SG

    The Chinese parents in your child’s daycare think there’s not enough homework.

    • Amanda Lee

      Nice stereotype. Not even funny.

  • http://www.twitter.com/ilikeswears Dusty

    I’d be asking the daycare what is the intended purpose of sending home projects for me, the parent, to complete? I’m paying for my kid’s life to be enriched, I learned how to do crafts 35 years ago. I mean, unless they are grooming you to do your kids’ homework in k-12, wtf is the point of this?

    • FormerlyKnownAsWendy

      This is a fantastic comment!

  • Mystik Spiral

    Bethany, I wouldn’t even bother with the “homework”. It’s not homework for your child, it’s homework for YOU, and seems to be feeding into some lame-ass parental competition bullshit.

  • Amanda Lee

    I would have a frank conversation with the day care provider (is she even a teacher???). Tell her, no, your kid is not going to do homework. You pay them, there are no grades, and it’s not like he can’t be held back. Also, I would call her out on the fact that clearly the parents completed that one child’s assignment.

  • lin

    I am a home daycare provider. I send home paper with scribbles all over it. Or a painted mess. Or a clump of glitter glue with some stickers piled on top of one another. The kids are damn proud of their work.

    • lin

      And definitely no homework. I think I would question the motives on that one…

  • SA

    I couldn’t have helped it, I would have laughed in the teachers face. I don’t mind the idea of sending home a project for the kid – mainly because I feel like I don’t have many ideas of projects to do with her and it sounds fun. However, expecting that a toddler should be sending back a doll with anything MORE than crayon scribbles on it is pretty dumb.

    This is what KILLS me about stuff like this. Teacher, child care providers, etc need to STOP allowing this to go on. If they stop allowing obvious parent creations to be selected for the model, first prize or whatever…parents will stop helping. I don’t think it would take much to figure out if a child did the work themselves or not – just ask them how they went about it, got their ideas, etc and you’ll know. (Obviously you can’t do that with a toddler, but…)

    • Natasha B

      My daughter’s elementary recently sent home a letter addressing this! (She’s in 4th) It pretty much states that if children turn in homework/projects that are blatantly done by parents, with very little to no child involvement, the child will receive a failing grade. Of course it was worded very nicely, etc. I thought it was pretty cool :)

    • Pumplestilskin

      My kids’ school does an academic fair every year. When my oldest was in 2nd grade she and her best friend worked together on a sign language project (her best friends mom is deaf). Their project board was handwritten by them, not typed but it had all kinds of facts on it. They 100% did it themselves, including recording themselves singing the school song (on my old tape deck no less) and then they signed along with it as their demonstration.
      Right next to them ,”Alpha Mom’s” son, in the same grade, “made” a scale model of theTitanic, painstakingly painted to accurate detail. His board was all neatly typed and headed with die cut letters (moms a sub at the school), Everything was laminated. His presentation, a computer simulation of the sinking, time lapsed so that it fit into the allotted time frame, on his dads lap top.
      She was livid that he didn’t win, even more livid when she read his judging sheet and it said, “child showed lack of knowledge on the subject” and “would like to see more of the child’s work next time”
      For the record, my daughter and her friend did not win either. They did get a special award and the librarian kept their project in the school library for quite a while but they got the pride in doing it themselves and all the praise they got (a lot from parents and teachers alike) was earned by them.

    • rrlo

      My son is still 2 -so we’re long away from homework. But from what I have read and my own personal experience, I think I will help my son plan out his work when he is older. Like help him define an idea, put some timelines on it, come up with the material and offer to help do a few tasks – like cutting shapes or gluing things. That’s the plan now… God knows what will actually happen in a few years…

  • blh

    That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard. My son is in day care and I’d point blank tell them no if they tried to send him with homework. A child that young gets nothing out of it, nor should they even think about shit like that. And I’m sure not going to it. I think even kindergarteners getting homework is stupid bc you know it’s really just the parents doing it or having to oversee every aspect of it.

    • SarahJesness

      Especially considering the specific assignment at hand. What’s decorating a doll supposed to teach him?

    • blh

      lol hell I think most projects I had in school were pointless and taught me nothing….

  • wkarel

    I think this is actually great. Not because you are pegged with a whole bunch of extra tasks – but it indicates to me that the teacher/director of the school is REALLY dedicated to her job and her mission as educator. For this reason, I think you have a good thing going !

    • Mystik Spiral

      How does sending a 2-year-old home with craft projects that the parents are expected to do educate the child? Silly homework assignments for toddlers does not equal dedication.

    • wkarel

      I don’t actually think that the project itself would education the child and she may be a bit ‘off” in her request. But, anyone who is that dedicated to her school and her children to send home a homework project is a good childcare provider. It is indicating to me that she cares. That’s all. She is into her work and she may be going a bit too far here with her homework assignment, but I think that is indicative of her dedication. That’s all. And if the author is really that broken up about this, she should find another daycare provider. Life is too short to get angry about the homework assignment.

    • Mystik Spiral

      Hmm, I disagree. I don’t see the connection between assigning essentially useless “homework” and dedication/caring. You say she’s into her work, but I don’t understand how that follows simply because she’s asking parents to do crafts at home.

      I’ve no idea what her motivation is, but if it’s her way of caring and being dedicated, I think this teacher would probably be more suited to teaching older kids, maybe K-3.

    • lin

      It doesn’t take dedication to assign homework. I think it demonstrates that she is a bit out of touch with the age group she is caring for. It isn’t the kind of environment I would want my toddler in. As someone else said, she may be better with older kids.

    • blh

      Pressuring a TODDLER and annoying the parents does not make a good educator.

    • SarahJesness

      Disagree. It probably doesn’t take much effort or caring to assign homework. The fact that she apparently wants the parents to do the assignment is just proof that it’s not about educating the kids. Just as well, what is a kid supposed to learn from decorating a doll?

    • lin

      Really?!? Where is the logic in assigning craft projects to the parents? I do very few crafts with the kids that require me to do anything more than supervise. I may give them a pre-cut shape to decorate or scribble on, but that’s about the end of my involvement. These are little kids/toddlers. They learn best by experimenting and having fun. They want to know that what they did is awesome and appreciated. Not that it isn’t good enough so mommy/daddy/daycare provide had to do it.

    • Alfreda Wells Morrissey

      Exactly!! My daughter had very few projects in kindergarten, and I always insist she be heavily involved. It is not the parents that need education. Now she is in grade 1, I will read her the directions and explain the directions if she doesn’t understand, but she sits and does her worksheets herself, then I check it over and point out any mistakes. I will listen to her read, and correct mistakes. I will call out her spelling words, but I refuse to do her projects for her. I don’t care if they are not as fancy as the ones the parents do for them. I always make sure all printing is done in her hand. If there is some creativity required, I will say what do YOU want to do and what do YOU need from me. I think it shows her that I trust her to do her own homework.

      I think you did exactly the right thing by letting him scribble on it in crayons. Otherwise give him glue and let him stick things to it half hazardly. There is not much else you can do without doing it yourself.

    • Lala

      Agreed. Isn’t she watching these kids all day? Shouldn’t she know what a two year old is capable or not capable of doing? Would make me weary about what else they are doing during the day or pressures being placed on the kids

    • SA

      How is she doing anything to ‘educate’ by sending home projects and then telling the parents they aren’t good enough when it is obvious the parent let the child do the project themselves? Educating isn’t giving parents homework.

    • Savannah61

      She doesn’t have a grasp on what is a developmentally appropriate task for a two year old. To me, that indicates that she is not a good educator. Also, assigning homework does not equal dedication.

  • Jessica

    I think you need to start browsing Etsy stores to see if your daycare provider is secretly selling homemade “Me Dolls” and fashionable turkeys for profit.

  • TwentiSomething Mom

    And often children (at least in my case) are in daycare longer than regular school children so expecting a toddler to go home and do homework after spending a full day at daycare is a lot to ask for.

  • Rachel Sea

    Keep sending in the crayon scrawls. If they want you to do the project for him, they should flat-out say so.

  • dcford

    HOLY CRAP. this is my life TODAY. my 2.5 year old is in daycare and was assigned a project to decorate a poster board to represent the theme for the month – transportation. They gave a few suggestions and encouraged parents to help children incorporate a few of the recommended components into the poster. The instructions were intimidating enough, but in an effort to engage my son in a cute little art project (which I already do on a weekly basis, thanks Pinterest), I provided him with a poster board, tape, crayons, and markets so he could draw “race cars,” “race tracks,” and “car sounds.” Of course it looked like a wild collection of scribbles and nonsense, but HE’S TWO. Seemed approp to me. I actually left daycare feeling GUILTY after seeing all of the elaborate, 3-D posters developed by all the other kids (letsbereal, THEIR PARENTS). I’m talking names spelled with Cheerios and glitter, paper mâché buses, insane shit. I refuse to do my kids projects, cause what’s the point of that?! so I think he might just continue to be the one kid who obviously did his own project!

    • Bethany Ramos

      Okay, this sounds even worse!

    • Jessica

      Somewhere, there’s a lady teaching third grade that is going to be THRILLED to have your son in her class someday, because your kid will have been attempting independent work for years before entering that classroom. Hang in there- you are doing what is ultimately the right thing, even if it doesn’t match up to the other projects visually right now.

    • Lala

      C’mon you know my snowflake has been writing her own name since 18 months. Clearly you are doing something wrong ;p.

    • oywiththepoodlesalready

      Doesn’t get any better when your kid is one of only a few kids in the whole of a grade to actually do their science project on their own. It’s so obvious who had the parents do the work or the majority of the work. I always was around for input if needed but they did their own shit. I had to do mine, they had to do theirs. I dread to think what it’s gonna be like by the time my 3 yr old starts school. ugh.

  • Beth

    Oh, please …. He’s TWO! Crayon scribbles should compose about half of his life. The other half should, of course, be binge-watching Sesame Street …. ;-)

    Seriously, though, why does EVERYTHING with kids have to be some pressurized, competitive blood sport! What are they going to do if your son brings in crayon scribbles and paint blobs? Kick him out of the daycare? Report you guys to CPS? There should be NO expectations on a two-year-old other than that he not hurt himself or other kids.

  • Aimee Beff

    WHAAAAT. I will be paying daycare providers to care for my kid during the day, not so they can dictate how we spend the limited amount of weeknight time my kids and I will have together. Plus, at the age your son is, it’s clearly not so much “toddler homework” as “parent homework” – yeah, it’s definitely better for mom or dad to do something elaborate than for the kid to actually have fun coloring and expressing himself at his actual age level?!

  • Williwaw

    The only “homework” our daycare gives is occasionally a request to bring a show and tell item in a particular colour. Since he is only two and can’t choose a particular colour on request, I usually assemble a selection of 5-6 items in the required colour and then let him choose which one to bring. If I actually told him to go choose something red or blue or whatever the colour was supposed to be, he would just go choose a ball. Probably in the wrong colour. He loves projectiles.

    • Spiderpigmom

      If I asked my soon-to-be-3, he would probably bring one of his countless cars/ trucks/ construction engines.The kid has a serious vehicle obsession. Each time I asked him what he wanted for Christmas this year, he answered with a specific vehicle name (just a different one each time): “I want a cement truck/ backhoe loader / ambulance / sports car. With wheeeeeels” (he always precises the vehicle should have “wheeeeeels”, for some reason).

    • Bethany Ramos

      That. Is. So. Cute.

  • aCongaLine

    My 2.5 year old is really really good at scribbling… but only on the walls. And only in markers.

    I vote boycott. Ridic, indeed. I did the in-home daycare thing for a while. I didn’t send home homework- quality time as a family unit is sacred.

  • SB

    How is it a “Me Doll” if mom and dad decorate it? I don’t think the daycare provider understood the assignment.

  • G.E. Phillips

    I call foul on the fact that she essentially said that your kid did it WRONG. Preschool Education 101=art should be child directed, not teacher directed; process oriented, not product oriented. Plus it’s ART and it’s subjective. Ugh, that part bothers me more than the fact that she gave your toddler homework.

  • thisshortenough

    I was always annoyed as a child that my mam would sometimes just take over my projects that called for me to be a bit more creative. Then I’d go into school and my friend would have projects her mam had obviously done. What’s the point in giving a project if teachers expect it to be done like an adult would have and parents panic and have to do the projects themselves. Yes parents should help and have input but it’s just boring for kids to have their parents do the projects and time consuming for parents

  • http://wtfihaveakid.blogspot.ca/ jendra_berri

    I think the message needs to be sent that there will be no sent-home projects from daycare. Daycare ends when the child leaves and then a family life at home begins.
    Try “I’m sorry you didn’t like my son’s artwork. I think he did his best.” Turn it around on her. There’s no way forward in that conversation for her without admitting she expects you to do it for him. Conversation checkmate.

  • C.J.

    I thought it was ridiculous when my kids had to do weekly book reports in Kindergarten. There is no way I would have went along with homework in daycare. Two year olds are not old enough to do homework independently. Other than daily reading with younger children I don’t think homework should be assigned if the child isn’t old enough to do it independently. I will help my kids if they get stuck but I have never done their homework for them.

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