Published at Saturday, 04 May 2019. Worksheet. By Darcel Rey.
When we use a hands on material like unifix cubes to help solve problems on a worksheets, it’s not okay. But if the worksheet (or printable) is used to enhance the activity such as counting mats, it’s okay. The worksheet should be an afterthought, not the reason for the manipulative. With that in mind, lets talk about why worksheets should not be in the early childhood setting. A worksheet does not teach, no matter how hard you believe they do, they just don’t. Children, young children especially, need time to explore concepts and manipulate materials in order to learn. A cut and paste worksheet on the life cycle of a butterfly is really just giving them cutting practice, not teaching them about the life cycle. But the simple manipulation of life cycle models or watching the life cycle happen in front of them is much more meaningful and appealing. Hands on learning benefits all learning styles, even those kids who love to write.
Really all worksheets do is test rote memory, a way for children to just spit back information to you. In the end, do we want a child to memorize concepts, or do we want them to understand them and apply them to different situations? I bet it’s the latter. By using a hands on approach to learning, we give kids the opportunity to test the concepts in different situations, so they can understand how this concept can be applied to different areas of their life. Hands on learning gives children the opportunity to use and refine their problem solving, creativity, and critical thinking skills. Again, worksheets are there for spitting out information. Where is the thinking in that?
Children are born with a need to move (Kostelnik, Soderman, & Whiren, 1993). They wiggle, toddle, run, and climb as naturally as they breathe. When we insist that children sit still and do what for them may be a meaningless task, such as completing a workbook page, we force children into a situation incompatible with their developmental needs and abilities. When children cannot or will not do such a task, we may label them ”immature” or ”hyperactive.” We may complain about their short attention span, or as in Jamaica’s case, criticize her efforts. On the other hand, if we allow children to choose their own task from among appropriate offerings, we may see children as young as three and four years old spend 30 to 45 minutes completely engrossed in building with unit blocks, painting at the easel, or listening to stories. When we plan developmentally appropriate activities for children, they will attend to them, work hard, and learn (Bredekamp & Rosegrant, 1992).
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