Published at Saturday, May 04th 2019. by Slanie Allain in Worksheet.
Problem solving involves an element of risk. If we want children to learn to solve problems we must create safe environments in which they feel confident taking risks, making mistakes, learning from them, and trying again (Fordham & Anderson, 1992). In a play-based curriculum, each day provides opportunities to learn about reading, writing, and math through real, meaningful situations. For instance, children set the table for snack so each child has one napkin, one straw, and one box of milk. Children string beads to match the pattern on a card or wait their turn because there is room for only four children at the art table. Through these meaningful experiences children begin to understand number, quantity, size, and other mathematical concepts.
Well that should be a clue right there! If you are frustrated and your child is frustrated when worksheets are being used, then it’s not an effective learning tool. I know what you’re thinking! But what if my child loves doing worksheets?. I’m not going to tell you that a young child isn’t going to love worksheets because I was the type of child that loved worksheets. I would sit for an hour and complete a whole workbook. My mom couldn’t buy enough workbooks to keep me satisfied, so I know that some kids do love them. I’m not saying you should never use a worksheet, especially with those kids who LOVE them. Really you should only be using them with the kids that love them. If your child doesn’t love worksheets, you should be finding a new way to learn. Now that doesn’t mean you give them worksheets everyday, all day. Think of it this way, what if your child loved candy as much as they loved doing worksheets and they wanted to eat candy all day long? Would you let them? Most likely not. Just like candy, worksheets should be used in moderation with the ones who love doing them.
Hands on manipulation of objects, gives children the opportunity to create hypothesis, test them out, and use their problem solving and critical thinking skills to completely understand how it works. This is more towards workbooks, especially if you follow the workbook page by page. Just because the workbook says it’s for 3 year olds, does not mean your child is ready for it. Related: What to Teach My Preschooler and When to Teach It. It’s best to teach your child based on their interests and signs of readiness. A workbook does not allow room for every child’s unique growth and development sequence. This is a huge one for me. When I taught in the public schools, we were told to get kids to think for themselves and defend their answers. But, their answers and evidence must match the teacher’s guide and test answer key. Really? How is it possible to get a child to think for themselves and defend their position, but also be correct 100% of the time according to an answer key?. It’s just not possible! I look at it this way, if a child can defend their answer to any question using evidence then it’s correct whether the answer key says so or not. In 20 years, do we want people running this country who only know how to give one answer, or do we want people who can be creative and think outside the box?
Worksheets do not teach. They check what kids know. If someone handed me a basic calculus worksheet and said, “Here you go. This will help you learn calculus,” I’d be at a complete loss. Now if I got on the phone and called my twin brother (for whom calculus is simple math), he could talk me through it and I might have a chance of understanding it. Please keep this in mind when handing your child a worksheet. If it’s a new skill, sit right there and coach him through it. Worksheets can be a cop-out. Sound a little harsh? My opinion is that teachers and homeschooling who rely on worksheets are choosing not to find ways to really challenge and interest their kids. It’s the easy way out.Worksheets might not allow higher level thinking. Most worksheets have just one right answer, or one way to complete them. If we consistently keep our kids inside a box, they won’t be able to stretch. Teachers who use worksheets may not be teaching what their students are ready to learn. It really, really makes me cringe when a teacher or homeschooling parent has an entire year’s worth of worksheets printed and ready to go before the school year starts. (And yes, I’m including per-printed workbooks here.) How do you know that’s what your child will need to learn? Maybe your first grader struggles with addition in August. But she could have a firm grasp on it by December. Are you still going to give her all those per-printed worksheets or have her complete every page in that workbook? Challenge her with something new.
Ah, worksheets. I hesitate to even write this post because I don’t want to open a giant can of worms. The truth is that “worksheets” is one of those words that stirs up a lot of emotion among educators. Actually, I get pretty worked up about worksheets. I’m not going to claim that today’s post is indisputable fact. It’s my opinion — and while you may or may not agree, I want my readers to know where I stand. Are worksheets good or bad? First of all, what do I mean by “worksheet”? My definition of worksheet: A printed page that a child completes with a writing instrument. No other materials are needed, multiple choice questions, matching exercises, handwriting practice, coloring pages, math problems, fill-in-the-blank book reports, word searches and crossword puzzles, copy work.
If we cannot demonstrate children’s progress with worksheets, how do we provide evidence of learning? Here are several ways: Portfolios – A portfolio is a collection of a child’s work. Portfolios can include the following: Work Samples: Keep samples of each child’s drawings and writing, including invented spelling. Photographs of creations of clay, wood, and other materials can also be included. Children should have a say in what is included in their own portfolio. Date each piece so that progress throughout the school year can be noted. Observations: Keep observational records of what children do in the class. There are many efficient methods of recording children’s behavior. Audio and video tape can capture them in action. Occasional anecdotal notes also help.
Before a child can hold a pencil and make an accurate mark on paper, he must have a great deal of small motor control. He needs practice with various materials and objects that require grasping, holding, pinching, and squeezing. He must have ample opportunity to make his own marks with objects such as paint brushes, chalk, fat crayons, and felt-tip markers. Only later, when he has achieved the necessary finger and hand control, should he be asked to write words or numerals with a pencil. The timing of this accomplishment will vary among children. Some four-year-olds and most five-year-olds are ready to write a few things, notably their own names. But, we must remember that each child develops on his or her own schedule, and some six-year-olds may be just starting this task. If they are encouraged, rather than criticized, they will continue to learn and grow and feel confident.
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