Switching crayon colors helps beginning homeworkers stay focused

Sara's simple hack for adding variety to Pre-K and kindergarten homework assignments:Crayons

My daughter's in pre-k this year, and with it she has "homework" for the first time. And not fun, project homework, but rather rote "practice tracing your letters" homework. Necessary, but not something my 4 year-old or I consider fun. One hack I've found to keep her somewhat focused and continuing to work is to hand her a different color crayon for each letter. I don't know if it's the variety, or my sitting next to her, but this works much better than expecting her to focus and keep going on her own with a single color.

Related: Set up a homework station to make afterschool assignments easier


  1. Eric says

    Homework in pre-k is not necessary. Can’t kids just be kids anymore? My daughter is in pre-k, no homework yet but I’m dreading it in Kindergarten.

  2. says

    Nice hack – varying colors or even writing tools (crayons vs. markers, etc.) definitely keeps my kids interest up.

    But, rote homework that’s “no fun” and expecting the kid to stay focus on it? In Pre-K?!? That’s wrong on so many levels…

  3. Katherine says

    I love the hack – but it makes me sad that parents just roll over when their kids get this kind of busywork. My mom was particularly good at advocating for more meaningful homework in smaller quantities. It can be done. Alfie Kohn’s _The Homework Myth_ is worth reading on this topic, and he has some decent suggestions for parents at the end.

  4. says

    This is a clever idea and I’m so glad it works for your family.

    But it makes my heart break to read about a pre-K student doing homework! I just can’t believe that tracing letters, as valuable as that is, is better for a 4 yr old than playing. Or almost anything else a 4 yr. old would choose to do.

    I would recommend Alfie Kohn’s “The Homework Myth” for anyone who is interested in this topic.

  5. Uly says

    Practicing letters is *not* necessary at the age of four – and homework certainly isn’t! Think back to your childhood – did you get homework in pre-k? Did you get homework in kindergarten? You may not even have gotten homework in the first grade, and yet, you’re perfectly literate now.

    The evidence has come in, time and time again, that homework in the lower grades – particularly repetitive drill-and-kill busywork – has no (that’s NO!) positive correlation with test scores either then or later in life, nor literacy, nor any marker of success.

  6. says

    This is a great idea to make letter practice more fun. My son (in first grade now) used to come home from kindergarten and show me the “rainbow writing” he had done that day. The got a single large letter to practice tracing, and they would go over and over it with as many colors as possible. Great writing practice, and he really loved the end result!

  7. Parent Hacks Editor says

    I hear you all about the “necessity” of homework. I’m thankful that, at this point, my 1st grade daughter’s only homework is to read (in her case be read to) 15 minutes per night.

    “The Homework Myth” has been mentioned by so many PHers over the years…I need to read it.