Published at Monday, 15 April 2019. Worksheet. By Fayette Riviere.
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.
Welcome to the Child Led Environments Series where we are exploring how to set up and cultivate an environment conducive to child-led learning. 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.
Most preschool and kindergarten children are in what Piaget described as the preoperational stage of cognitive development. Letters and numerals typically mean little to the three- to six-year-olds in this stage. These children use concrete rather than abstract symbols to represent objects and ideas (Bodrova & Leong, 1996). Through pretending, children develop the ability mentally to represent the world (Bredekamp, 1987; Stone, 1995). Reading requires a child to look at symbols or representations (i.e., letters and words) and extract meaning from them. A play-based curriculum offers children opportunities throughout the day to develop the ability to think abstractly by experiencing real objects using their senses (Bredekamp, 1987; Kostelnik, Soderman, & Whiren, 1993). Blocks can represent an airplane or a train. High heels can transform a preschooler into a mother or princess. Blocks and high heels are three dimensional, tangible objects. Sufficient practice using concrete objects as symbols is a necessary prerequisite to the use and comprehension of print (Stone, 1995).
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