Published at Wednesday, May 01st, 2019 - 02:09:26 AM. Worksheet. By Suzette Couturier.
Are worksheets good or bad? Ah, worksheets. I hesitate to even write this post because I don’t want to open a giant can of worms. The truth is that “worksheets” is one of those words that stirs up a lot of emotion among educators. Actually, I get pretty worked up about worksheets. I’m not going to claim that today’s post is indisputable fact. It’s my opinion — and while you may or may not agree, I want my readers to know where I stand. Are worksheets good or bad? First of all, what do I mean by “worksheet”? My definition of worksheet: A printed page that a child completes with a writing instrument. No other materials are needed, multiple choice questions, matching exercise, handwriting practice, coloring pages, math problems, fill-in-the-blank book reports, word searches and crossword puzzles, copywork.
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 homeschoolers 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 pre-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 pre-printed worksheets or have her complete every page in that workbook? Challenge her with something new.
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