Published at Saturday, May 04th 2019. by Eleanor Duhamel in Worksheet.
Mathematical understanding is more than recognition of numerals and amounts. Sorting, categorizing, putting items in a series, and problem solving are all important math concepts (Raines & Canady, 1990). The teacher may believe that Jamaica understands the concept of ”four” if she circles four flowers on the worksheet. But until Jamaica can transfer that learning to other situations, such as the number of places at the table for four people, Jamaica does not truly understand what ”four” means. Similarly, Jamaica may be able to print the letters ”R,” ”U,” and ”N” on a worksheet, but be unable to read the word ”run” when she sees it in a book. The mere accomplishment of the worksheet task does not signify the child’s ability to read or comprehend.
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?
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.
Teachers who require young children to perform passive tasks like worksheets may be heard exhorting them, ”Do your own work. Eyes on your own paper.” There are few situations in the adult world in which we cannot ask a friend or colleague for help with a task, or for their ideas about a problem. In fact, leaders in business and industry say they need employees who can work in teams to solve problems. Yet we ask children to do what are often impossible tasks, and insist that they suffer through them alone.
I don’t think it’s a bad thing to teach kids to sit for a few minutes and complete a simple pencil-and-paper assignment. And for young kids, I mean it when I say “a few minutes.” Thirty minutes is not a few. Worksheets might be a useful assessment tool. If your child is doing a worksheet on a learned skill, you might see what he understands and what you need to revisit. In the early childhood community, however, some educators believe that worksheets are inappropriate for this age level and may not tell you what a student truly understands. My kids like them. Wait, doesn’t this contradict a point I made above? Not really. If my kids want to sit at the table while I’m making dinner and do a few worksheets, I don’t have a problem with that. It can be relaxing for them. It’s not a replacement for other learning because I wouldn’t be teaching right then anyway… and I don’t have the space or time to set up a big hands-on learning center while the stove is on, the baby is crying, and the toddler is hanging on my leg.
The sentences given below are taken from a story, but they are jumbled. That means they are not arranged in their proper order. Rearrange them in their logical sequence. The young man sold his share of the property and left for another country. The father tried to dissuade his son, but he wouldn’t listen to his father whom he regarded as old and ignorant. Years went by. The younger son began to get restless because he was unhappy with his lot. He led a luxurious life and spent a lot of money on gambling. They were living together happily. Soon all his money was gone and he became a pauper. Once there lived a rich farmer. He went to his father and asked for his share of the property. So the father gave him a third of his property. He had two sons. Once there lived a rich farmer. He had two sons. They were living together happily. Years went by. The younger son began to get restless because he was unhappy with his lot. He went to his father and asked for his share of the property. The father tried to dissuade his son, but he wouldn’t listen to his father whom he regarded as old and ignorant. So the father gave him a third of his property. The young man sold his share of the property and left for another country. He led a luxurious life and spent a lot of money on gambling. Soon all his money was gone and he became a pauper.
These are NOT good reasons to use a steady diet of worksheets: “My kids love worksheets.” Actually, I loved worksheets as a kid. My daughter loves them too. But we shouldn’t give our kids something just because they like it. My kids would love to watch TV all day and eat candy for dinner, too. We might also do well to determine why they like worksheets. Is it because they are easy? Because it means they don’t have to think as hard? Because worksheets let them be passive learners? I’m just preparing my students for the next grade – because that teacher uses a ton of worksheets and workbooks. Believe me, this was a real concern of mine as a classroom teacher. How would my students be ready for the stacks of workbooks in the next grade if we didn’t do some in my room? Then I read somewhere — “It’s not your job to prepare your students for bad teaching.” That was a great comfort!.
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