By Gabrielle Gilbert. Kindergarten Worksheet. Published at Wednesday, October 16th, 2019 - 02:02:34 AM.
These are NOT good reasons to use a steady diet of worksheets. “My kids love worksheets.” Actually, I loved worksheets as a kid. My daughter loves them too. But we shouldn’t give our kids something just because they like it. My kids would love to watch TV all day and eat candy for dinner, too. We might also do well to determine why they like worksheets. Is it because they are easy? Because it means they don’t have to think as hard? Because worksheets let them be passive learners?. I’m just preparing my students for the next grade – because that teacher uses a ton of worksheets and workbooks. Believe me, this was a real concern of mine as a classroom teacher. How would my students be ready for the stacks of workbooks in the next grade if we didn’t do some in my room? Then I read somewhere — “It’s not your job to prepare your students for bad teaching.” That was a great comfort!
Below are some common misconceptions about the use of worksheets in the classroom. FALSE. Children do not always know what is best for them, just because they like something is not an indication that it is good for them. How many times have your students come to school dressed inappropriately for the weather or chosen to eat candy for lunch rather than the sandwich their mother packed for them? Because children do not know what is best for them, that is why we, as educators, must purposefully prepare appropriate materials and activities for our students instead of just copying off another worksheet, that is a cop-out in my opinion. As trained professionals in the field of education it is our duty to teach our students to the best of our ability and keep their best interests in mind while doing so. If we do not do that then we are cheapening the profession and adding to the already tarnished image teachers hold in this country.
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. 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.
This page came about because I receive many questions from teachers looking for worksheets for their Pre-K or Kindergarten classes. This deeply saddens me because while that teacher is taking the time to look for worksheets on the internet he or she could be using that time to search the internet for valuable teaching ideas that will benefit their students so much more than a worksheet ever could. I realize that some of you may be angered by the implication that worksheets are not good teaching practice or even harmful. My goal is to provide information only, if you choose to read it you can agree or disagree with my views, but at least I have put my message out there. A new “code name” for worksheets is “morning work.” What a child really needs in the morning is a warm greeting from the teacher and interaction with peers! My No More Letter of the Week page that also fits with this theme.
Homework, “My kids beg for worksheets because they want to be like their older siblings and do “real” homework. There’s nothing wrong with sending a few worksheets home, it’s not like we’re doing them at school. FALSE. When we send worksheets home for “homework” we are sending the message to parents that worksheets are the way that young children learn best. Most parents are not professional educators, it’s our job to not only do what is best for our students but to also educate their parents about what is best as well, if we don’t then who will? Many parents don’t know any other way to help their children at home other than worksheets and workbooks. For this reason we hold a “Homework Night” early in the school year every year to educate our parents about how they can help their children at home. Our presentation includes information on how worksheets are not appropriate for young children and why. We explain that worksheets teach children that there is only one right answer and they do not allow children to think for themselves. We explain how writing on paper with lines (two solid and a dotted line in the middle) is not appropriate for certain ages and why (visual acuity, fine motor not developed enough, creates frustration and lack of desire to write etc) We also tell parents that there is a difference between their young child and older siblings and how older children are more developmentally ready to profit from using worksheets occasionally. Then, we introduce our homework program and show the parents specific ways they can help their children at home each night.
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 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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