Published at Monday, 15 April 2019. Worksheet. By Fayette Riviere.
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.
Checklists: Record children’s skill development on checklists. Progress in beginning letter recognition, name writing, and self-help skills, for example, can be listed and checked off as children master them. Appropriate worksheets: For example, children experimenting with objects to discover if they sink or float can record their observations on paper divided into a float column and a sink column. This shows that they are doing actual scientific experimentation and recording the data. Parent Newsletters: Teachers can send home periodic parent newsletters which explain the activities children are doing at school and the teacher’s goals and objectives. When parents understand the value of developmentally appropriate activities they will feel confident that their children are learning and growing, not ”just playing.”
Worksheets do not teach. They check what kids know. If someone handed me a basic calculus worksheet and said, “Here you go. This will help you learn calculus,” I’d be at a complete loss. Now if I got on the phone and called my twin brother (for whom calculus is simple math), he could talk me through it and I might have a chance of understanding it. Please keep this in mind when handing your child a worksheet. If it’s a new skill, sit right there and coach him through it. Worksheets can be a cop-out. Sound a little harsh? My opinion is that teachers and homeschooling who rely on worksheets are choosing not to find ways to really challenge and interest their kids. It’s the easy way out.Worksheets might not allow higher level thinking. Most worksheets have just one right answer, or one way to complete them. If we consistently keep our kids inside a box, they won’t be able to stretch. Teachers who use worksheets may not be teaching what their students are ready to learn. It really, really makes me cringe when a teacher or homeschooling parent has an entire year’s worth of worksheets printed and ready to go before the school year starts. (And yes, I’m including per-printed workbooks here.) How do you know that’s what your child will need to learn? Maybe your first grader struggles with addition in August. But she could have a firm grasp on it by December. Are you still going to give her all those per-printed worksheets or have her complete every page in that workbook? Challenge her with something new.
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