Published at Saturday, 04 May 2019. Worksheet. By Lacey Guillet.
As a parent and educator, when I walk into an environment with early learners, whether that be in a home school setting or preschool setting, I want to see those kids engaged in their learning. Young children should be manipulating materials, testing hypothesis, and exploring the world around them. No matter where I look, I should not see a child doing a workbook. Worksheets are not appropriate for young children for many reasons. Let me start off by explaining what a worksheet means to me. A worksheet is paper and pencil. There are no other materials used in conjunction with the worksheet. These include handwriting practice sheets and coloring pages. Sometimes parents like to pull out manipulative for math worksheets to help the child “build” the answer. I still count these as worksheets. You really only need the manipulative anyway, and the child will get far more out of the lesson if he writes his own equations rather than writing an answer down on a worksheet. A worksheet is not a printable that is used to enhance a hands on activity. Do you see the difference here?
When a student reads a text, he or she is forced to absorb a great deal of particular facts concerning an infinitude of seemingly random subjects (volcanoes, molecules, skateboarding, etc.) and assimilate them into the bigger picture, establishing just how they fit in, or relate, to the broader world. Mathematics, the diametrical opposite of art, challenges students in an inverse way; it teaches them to manipulate universals in order to represent the particular. No matter what the number ”3” may come to stand for – volcanoes or molecules or skateboards – the student will be able to manipulate these things given his or her understanding of math. Based on this understanding, one might actually say that reading comprehension shares a unique association with art and math, each providing a way of understanding the world from a fundamental, yet polar, perspective.
Sometimes a parent or teacher just needs a break. You’re going to use worksheets once in a while? I won’t judge you. Planning hands-on activities takes time and resources we don’t always have. Sometimes we just need something simple. Like when you’re 9 months pregnant to the day and the baby shows no sign of making an appearance. Ahem. (Update: our baby finally made her appearance, two weeks late!). My bottom line? A steady diet of worksheets is bad news. For some preschoolers, worksheets are never appropriate. For preschoolers who enjoy them, I don’t think worksheets are harmful every once in a while for a change of pace. For older kids, worksheets are appropriate when nothing else will do the job. Thoughtful teachers and homeschooling will strive to limit their use of worksheets in favor of activities which promote higher-level thinking and hands- on experiences.
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