Published at Saturday, May 04th 2019. by Damien Cohen in Worksheet.
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.
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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Before a child can hold a pencil and make an accurate mark on paper, he must have a great deal of small motor control. He needs practice with various materials and objects that require grasping, holding, pinching, and squeezing. He must have ample opportunity to make his own marks with objects such as paint brushes, chalk, fat crayons, and felt-tip markers. Only later, when he has achieved the necessary finger and hand control, should he be asked to write words or numerals with a pencil. The timing of this accomplishment will vary among children. Some four-year-olds and most five-year-olds are ready to write a few things, notably their own names. But, we must remember that each child develops on his or her own schedule, and some six-year-olds may be just starting this task. If they are encouraged, rather than criticized, they will continue to learn and grow and feel confident.
The sentences given below are taken from a story, but they are jumbled. That means they are not arranged in their proper order. Rearrange them in their logical sequence. The young man sold his share of the property and left for another country. The father tried to dissuade his son, but he wouldn’t listen to his father whom he regarded as old and ignorant. Years went by. The younger son began to get restless because he was unhappy with his lot. He led a luxurious life and spent a lot of money on gambling. They were living together happily. Soon all his money was gone and he became a pauper. Once there lived a rich farmer. He went to his father and asked for his share of the property. So the father gave him a third of his property. He had two sons. Once there lived a rich farmer. He had two sons. They were living together happily. Years went by. The younger son began to get restless because he was unhappy with his lot. He went to his father and asked for his share of the property. The father tried to dissuade his son, but he wouldn’t listen to his father whom he regarded as old and ignorant. So the father gave him a third of his property. The young man sold his share of the property and left for another country. He led a luxurious life and spent a lot of money on gambling. Soon all his money was gone and he became a pauper.
Hands on manipulation of objects, gives children the opportunity to create hypothesis, test them out, and use their problem solving and critical thinking skills to completely understand how it works. This is more towards workbooks, especially if you follow the workbook page by page. Just because the workbook says it’s for 3 year olds, does not mean your child is ready for it. Related: What to Teach My Preschooler and When to Teach It. It’s best to teach your child based on their interests and signs of readiness. A workbook does not allow room for every child’s unique growth and development sequence. This is a huge one for me. When I taught in the public schools, we were told to get kids to think for themselves and defend their answers. But, their answers and evidence must match the teacher’s guide and test answer key. Really? How is it possible to get a child to think for themselves and defend their position, but also be correct 100% of the time according to an answer key?. It’s just not possible! I look at it this way, if a child can defend their answer to any question using evidence then it’s correct whether the answer key says so or not. In 20 years, do we want people running this country who only know how to give one answer, or do we want people who can be creative and think outside the box?
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