Published at Thursday, April 18th 2019. by Aceline Lecomte 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.
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.
There are many active, and far more interesting, ways for children to begin understanding words and numbers than via worksheets (Mason, 1986). A classroom with a developmentally appropriate curriculum is a print-rich environment. The walls are covered with signs naming objects, stories children have dictated, lists of words they have generated, pictures they have painted and labeled, and charts of classroom jobs (such as feeding the pet and passing out napkins for snack). At the small motor activities table there may be sandpaper letters to feel and puzzles to complete. Creative activities may include squirting shaving cream onto the table and having children make designs and write their names. And always there are many books to explore, examine, wonder about, listen to, and love as they are read aloud. In these ways, children learn that reading and writing are useful skills, not simply tedious activities adults invent to make school boring. It takes a lot of experience with words and print for children to understand why it is good to be able to read.
This understanding comes from the interaction between the words that are written and how they trigger knowledge outside the text. Humans are thought to have a set reserve, an established threshold for attention and absorption of information, commonly referred to as processing capacity. This being the case, it is generally believed that proficient reading depends on the ability to recognize words quickly and effortlessly. If word recognition is difficult, students use too much of their processing capacity to read individual words, which interferes with their ability to comprehend what is read. Many educators in the United States believe that students need to learn to analyze text (comprehend it) even before they can read it on their own, and comprehension instruction generally begins in pre-Kindergarten or Kindergarten. But other US educators consider this reading approach to be completely backward for very young children, arguing that the children must learn how to decode the words in a story through phonics before they can analyze the story itself. The reason why reading comprehension is such an effective learning tool is that, like art, it teaches students to manipulate particulars in attempt to represent the universal.
One Word Analogies, This unit contains classic analogies worksheets in which students must choose the pair of words that best express a relationship similar to that expressed in the original pair. Note that low beginning analogies have been created so that one word is static. This is not true for all other levels as both words are dynamic in them. More Classic Word Pair Analogies, This unit contains classic analogies worksheets in which students must choose the pair of words that best express a relationship similar to that expressed in the original pair. Note that these worksheets are to be used as supplementary materials. If this is your first time visiting our website, we recommend that you begin with the Read Theory analogies worksheets located in Unit 2 on this page. Synonyms and Antonyms Worksheets, Synonyms and antonyms are useful to know because they improve reading and writing skills. And since words represent thoughts, it can plausibly be stated that they allow students to understand the world at a deeper, richer level. It is important to remember that synonyms are not words that have the same meaning, but rather, words that have similar meanings. This means that by learning synonyms, students learn to differentiate between shades of meaning. This enables them to be more precise. In addition, by learning antonyms, students learn the logical opposites of important words, thus enhancing their overall command of language. On the first set of our worksheets below, students must choose the best antonym for the word given.
By my definition, these are NOT worksheets: A data sheet — for example, when we did our water science experiments and our magnet sensory play, my kids recorded their findings on paper. An activity sheet using stickers or other manipulative — such as my dot sticker pages. A printable used for pre-writing or organization of thoughts. A sheet that provides cutting practice. A play dough mat. Why I’m not crazy about worksheets: I prefer hands-on learning. I think it’s more interesting and is much more appealing for kids of all learning styles. A steady diet of worksheets can be boring and dampen enthusiasm for learning. Young children, especially, learn best through concrete experiences. Worksheets may be too abstract for preschoolers.
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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