By Isabeau Lesage. Worksheet. Published at Sunday, April 28th, 2019 - 13:18:25 PM.
Worksheets, workbooks, and printables. Is there a place for them in the early childhood setting? Today I’m explaining why I think worksheets are not appropriate for young children. Welcome to the Child Led Environments Series where we are exploring how to set up and cultivate an environment conducive to child-led learning. How to Cultivate a Love of Learning, Toy Rotation: Why It’s Beneficial for You and Your Child, How to Incorporate an Encouraging Home Preschool Environment,9 Reasons Why Worksheets Are Inappropriate for Young Children,4 Aspects of the Adult’s Role in a Child-Led Approach. As a parent and educator, when I walk into an environment with early learners, whether that be in a homeschool 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 Provide Real, Meaningful Experiences. I go into a lot of detail about meaningful experiences in this post. Basically, a child needs to have a reason for learning the concept. Completing a worksheet is not a good enough reason for a child. Providing activities that connect to real life gives children a reason to learn it. If you present a worksheet to a child and say “Read this so you can answer these questions.” Are they going to be motivated? Most likely not!. But if a child is trying to learn how to build a sturdy fort, but must read the directions to learn how to do so, then that gives them a reason to learn. Worksheets Take Away the Love of Learning. I see parents all the time in different Facebook groups mention something like this… I’m at a lost. My 2 year old is frustrating me with learning her letters. I have tried everything, we do a worksheet a day, but I feel like I’m beating a dead horse. Well that should be a clue right there! If you are frustrated and your child is frustrated when worksheets are being used, then it’s not an effective learning tool. I know what you’re thinking! But what if my child loves doing worksheets? I’m not going to tell you that a young child isn’t going to love worksheets because I was the type of child that loved worksheets. I would sit for an hour and complete a whole workbook. My mom couldn’t buy enough workbooks to keep me satisfied, so I know that some kids do love them. I’m not saying you should never use a worksheet, especially with those kids who LOVE them. Really you should only be using them with the kids that love them. If your child doesn’t love worksheets, you should be finding a new way to learn. Now that doesn’t mean you give them worksheets everyday, all day. Think of it this way, what if your child loved candy as much as they loved doing worksheets and they wanted to eat candy all day long? Would you let them? Most likely not. Just like candy, worksheets should be used in moderation with the ones who love doing them.
Worksheets might be a useful assessment tool. If your child is doing a worksheet on a learned skill, you might see what he understands and what you need to revisit. In the early childhood community, however, some educators believe that worksheets are inappropriate for this age level and may not tell you what a student truly understands. My kids like them. Wait, doesn’t this contradict a point I made above? Not really. If my kids want to sit at the table while I’m making dinner and do a few worksheets, I don’t have a problem with that. It can be relaxing for them. It’s not a replacement for other learning because I wouldn’t be teaching right then anyway… and I don’t have the space or time to set up a big hands-on learning center while the stove is on, the baby is crying, and the toddler is hanging on my leg. 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 homeschoolers will strive to limit their use of worksheets in favor of activities which promote higher-level thinking and hands- on experiences.
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