Homework at this age is really quick and mostly based around activities. So, it wasn't surprising when I came home to a terribly out-of-sync round of clapping.
The clapping died down and the room was silent for a beat before my daughter spoke.
"But I still don't know anything about Minnesota!" she announced.
I realized if someone from Minnesota heard me tell my daughter everything I know about the state, he would just shake his head at me, put on his Viking horns and return to the Mall of America.
Did you know kindergartners have homework? Before I had a kid in the system, this seemed unnecessary. And then my daughter started preschool, and I would ask her about her day. Often, she couldn't remember.
"Do you remember anything about your day?" I'd ask. "What did you have for lunch?"
"Peanut butter and jelly," she'd reply.
"No you didn't," my wife would respond from the other room.
We practiced. In the morning, I would ask her to remember one thing about her day. It could be a fun, happy, hard or sad moment. Anything.
"And we'll talk about it later," I said. She liked this mission.
At dinner, I asked her about preschool and she told me it was great.
"What made it so great?" I asked.
"At snack time, we had graham crackers," she replied. For the next few months, she regaled us with daily reviews of snack time.
When she got to kindergarten, and the homework came, it made a lot of sense. When you are talking about learning the fundamentals of reading, writing and math, you need to put in the time to set the foundation. Homework at this age is quick and mostly activity-based. So, it wasn't surprising when I came home from work to a terribly out-of-sync round of clapping.
They were counting syllables.
When I entered, my daughter greeted me: "Hi, dad- (clap) dy (clap)."
I nodded proudly. "Very cool," I said.
She made her way around the table counting the syllables in everyone's names, even the cat's. Then we threw some harder ones at her and she responded like a champion despite her sister's random support claps throwing off her count. Soon, we were all clapping along with her as she nailed syllable count after syllable count.
Then the room grew quiet for a moment.
"But I still don't know anything about Minnesota!" she yelled.
As I put together my list of fun northern facts (mostly Kirby Puckett baseball statistics), my wife interjected and asked her to count the syllables. She clapped her way through it, got very excited and then completely deflated. I think she figured it out, got excited that she figured it out, and her excitement made her forget the answer. There's a lot of moving parts to this exercise. So, she started over until she got it.
And I added, "first of all, Minnesota is a state."
She shook her head at me. "No, I think it's a different Minnesota."
I tilted my head like a confused dog.
"Don't worry," she said. "I'll teach you about it tomorrow."
David Manley is a husband, father and an editor at The Canton Repository. Share your stories with him at email@example.com. Find him on Twitter: @DaveManley.