Published at Monday, 15 April 2019. Worksheet. By Fayette Riviere.
The foundations for our social relationships are laid in the early years (Kostelnik, Stein, Whiren, & Soderman, 1993). This is the time when we discover the roles we may play, the rules for getting along in society, the consequences for not following rules, and how to make friends. The only way to learn these concepts is to engage actively with others. When we do not allow children enough time to accomplish fundamental social tasks, we set the stage for social problems later on. Middle and high schools cope daily with antisocial behaviors that in some cases reach the point of violence. If we expect adolescents to know how to work and live with others, and solve problems peacefully, we would do well to begin the process when children are young.
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.
Why I occasionally* pull out a worksheet: By occasionally, I mean less than once a month with my preschoolers at home. In the classroom, when I taught first grade and above, we used a couple of worksheets each day — but if I didn’t need sleep, I would have replaced even those with more thoughtful activities. Sometimes, a worksheet is all that will do. When my kids have created letters in a variety of hands-on ways, it’s time to practice writing them. You need a handwriting worksheet for that. When kids have explored math concepts in hands-on ways, a worksheet may be helpful for additional practice. In my opinion, an occasional worksheet doesn’t hurt. Many educators would disagree with me on this one, and I respect their opinion. But I think that when worksheets are the exception, rather than the rule, of what we give our kids (even preschoolers), it’s okay. I do think that we should never force young children to do worksheets. If your preschooler is not interested in (or even resists) a worksheet, Put. It. Away. You may also find that your preschooler is excited about a worksheet but wants to stop after a few problems. Let him!
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