Published at Sunday, 28 April 2019. Worksheet. By Aceline Lecomte.
Young children are still in Piaget’s Preoperational Stage, which means they need symbols to represent objects. These young children cannot think abstractly. For example, they need a ball in their hands to understand what a ball is. Seeing the word ball on a worksheet or sometimes even just a picture of a ball, means nothing to them. That’s why hands on learning is best because it gives the child a symbol for their thinking. A very popular type of worksheet for this age group is handwriting sheets where the child is expected to trace the letter. These are not developmentally appropriate for young children. Even though huge letters that take up the whole page may be annoying to most adults, it’s normal for a child to write this way. Their fine motor skills are not refined enough to focus on tracing small letters. I know worksheets are the easy way to give a child something to do and easy to plan, but sometimes the best things in life are not easy. Happy Learning!
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.
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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