Published at Monday, 15 April 2019. Worksheet. By Heloise Vallee.
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.
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.
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