Published at Monday, 15 April 2019. Worksheet. By Fantina Leroux.
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.
Teachers who require young children to perform passive tasks like worksheets may be heard exhorting them, ”Do your own work. Eyes on your own paper.” There are few situations in the adult world in which we cannot ask a friend or colleague for help with a task, or for their ideas about a problem. In fact, leaders in business and industry say they need employees who can work in teams to solve problems. Yet we ask children to do what are often impossible tasks, and insist that they suffer through them alone.
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.
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