Published at Monday, 15 April 2019. Worksheet. By Fantina Leroux.
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.
When a student reads a text, he or she is forced to absorb a great deal of particular facts concerning an infinitude of seemingly random subjects (volcanoes, molecules, skateboarding, etc.) and assimilate them into the bigger picture, establishing just how they fit in, or relate, to the broader world. Mathematics, the diametrical opposite of art, challenges students in an inverse way; it teaches them to manipulate universals in order to represent the particular. No matter what the number ”3” may come to stand for – volcanoes or molecules or skateboards – the student will be able to manipulate these things given his or her understanding of math. Based on this understanding, one might actually say that reading comprehension shares a unique association with art and math, each providing a way of understanding the world from a fundamental, yet polar, perspective.
Early childhood education experts agree that the years from birth to age eight are a critical learning time for children (Bee, 1992; Kostelnik, Soderman, & Whiren, 1993; Willis, 1995). During these years, children have many cognitive, emotional, physical, and social tasks to accomplish (Katz, 1989). While children may have the ability to perform a task, that does not mean that the task is appropriate and should be performed. Educators agree that learning to read, write, and compute are undeniably important skills for children to acquire. The question is how and when they should be learned.
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