Regular Life

Regular Life

In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: it goes on. – Robert Frost


Homework in kindergarten. I will just leave that out there for you to think about for a moment. For now let me just say that my opinion on it changed Wednesday night.

The assignment was to identify shapes and then make a pattern out of them. No more specific than that, and the simplest he has had thus far. I figured it would be easy enough, considering that Benjamin had known at least five shapes for quite some time.

I dug through a plastic container of wafer-thin foam shapes and picked four each of circles, squares, and triangles of various sizes. Two of the squares, still attached to one another, served as the rectangle.

Quick, related sidenote. The other night when Benjamin said he didn’t know how to read yet, I said, “There’s at least one word you’ve known for a while.”

“Which word?”

“It’s on a sign that has eight sides.”

“An octagon?”

I had forgot that he knew that shape. “Yes. Do you remember the word?”


“Can you spell it?”


“See, you can read that word.”

That shape was something we had taught him, so while it still impressed me, I wasn’t surprised at all.

Back to Wednesday night.

At the kitchen island, where he always does his homework, I presented the shapes to Benjamin. He quickly identified the three (what I call) most basic shapes: triangle, square, circle.

I slid the rectangle toward him and said, “What is this shape?”

“Two squares,” he said.

“Yes, but together, what do they make?”

“A rectangle.”

Building on that same line of thinking, I combined two triangles. They didn’t make a square as I had hoped they would, because they were equilateral (look it up, I had to). They made a rhombus, which I didn’t have to look up but which I wasn’t going to ask Benjamin to identify.

Instead, I turned the shape slightly and presented something simpler for his consideration. “What’s that shape?”


Figuring he wasn’t going to pull that one out of his hat, I blurted, “It’s a diamond.”



Benjamin reached out his tiny fingers and turned the shape slightly.

“It’s a rhombus,” he said.


The pattern Ben made for the second part of his homework.

(Note: I composed this post, resized the photo, and posted both using Puppy Linux 4.00 (“Dingo”) on a Toshiba Portege 7020CT with a Pentium II and 192 MB RAM)

8 Responses to Shapes

  1. I’ve known all along that he’s a genius! ;o)

  2. It looks like his shape-person is pregnant. The large belly-circle with the smaller baby-circle inside it. These shape exercises have obviously taken him back to his wistful days in the womb and how everything (from his perspective) was much simpler then. I see the construct as a statement of how man, as a society, would benefit from a return to simpler ways. Indeed, doing so would have us dance for joy, as the shape-person is obviously doing.

    A very smart boy you have on your hands there, Mark.

  3. Yes, indeedy. Must run in the family.

    As I thought about homework for kindergarten, I read on. As I did, I realized that in Benjamin’s case, a secondary, or perhaps even primary, objective was achieved: the parent became involved i n the child’s schooling.

    Good show, Mark. Good show, Benjamin. Keep it up, boys.

  4. What IS a rhombus??? New game comin out. Are you smarter than a kindergartner???

  5. I agree with Simon, but I wonder if he’s psychic and knows something about his mommy that we don’t! *LOL*

    So Mark, how DO you handle homework? Do you help him while he’s doing it, allow him to do it, examine the results, if wrong direct him in the right direction, or something else altogether??

  6. Shan – Well, of course.

    Simon, Dave – His shape person, according to Benjamin, is a snowman, and the dot on the stomach is his button.

    Simon – Thanks for the deep analysis (is it okay that I chuckled?). I’ll ask him about his Luddite tendencies.

    Pops – Well, heck yeah. On both sides.

    If getting the parent to participate more was the goal of homework at this age, then it’s succeeding. I enjoy watching him, because it helps answer the question he never does when we say, “What is one thing you learned at school today?”

    Amy – It’s a diamond, basically. Did you click the link? If you pushed down on a square (assuming that possible) and to one side, it might lean over to become a rhombus.

    Dave – We have him do it all. We of course help him spell if he’s putting a word to paper (child’s name, whatever), but we encourage him to sound it out and spell it himself before we just start spelling it.

  7. My point exactly

  8. points


Comments are closed.