Published at Saturday, 04 May 2019. Worksheet. By Lauren Lemoine.
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.
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.
By my definition, these are NOT worksheets: A data sheet — for example, when we did our water science experiments and our magnet sensory play, my kids recorded their findings on paper. An activity sheet using stickers or other manipulative — such as my dot sticker pages. A printable used for pre-writing or organization of thoughts. A sheet that provides cutting practice. A play dough mat. Why I’m not crazy about worksheets: I prefer hands-on learning. I think it’s more interesting and is much more appealing for kids of all learning styles. A steady diet of worksheets can be boring and dampen enthusiasm for learning. Young children, especially, learn best through concrete experiences. Worksheets may be too abstract for preschoolers.
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