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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Worksheet Debate

Yesterday, at one of my favorite sites, I was reading a post about worksheets for children. I would like to write my opinion on the subject, hoping you understand it is my opinion—not gospel truth. I hope writing my opinion will not jeopardize my relationship with any of the magnificent teachers out there. I value their views and opinions and think that they are some of the MOST marvelous teachers I have met in years. Also, these people have helped me grow myself this year. I also believe that younger generations take direction from seasoned teachers, and I don’t want them to be totally turned off to a teaching tool that could be helpful.

I am a firm believer in a place for everything. While I feel that worksheets are not a way to teach a skill, or concept, I do feel that they can add to the teaching of a skill or subject. I strongly feel that children should experience a new concept in every way possible. They should be able to experience it in sight, sound, touch, movement, etc.

If we are firm believers in “not all children learning the same way”, then we should be providing different methods of learning a concept. Some children will learn through experience, some children will learn through play, and yes, some children will learn by sitting down and working to complete a task on a sheet.

I have a little boy in my class that loves to do this type of activity. He loves to sit and cut, color, glue, and just be involved in an activity that takes him from point A to point B. Do all the children enjoy this? No, but if he does, shouldn’t he be allowed to be engaged in these types of activities? Shouldn’t I be supplying him with things he enjoys to do?

Now, I don’t want you to think this little boy sits at the table and does worksheets everyday. Ironically, I did have a worksheet out today about birds, but I have only done a few so far this year. When I have the worksheets I will talk with the children about it during Opening time, what they should do, what it is telling us about, etc. Then I place all the materials at a table during free time. The children can choose to participate in the activity or not, it is up to them.

If we truly believe that all children learn differently, then shouldn't we need to provide as many different types of activities available for a concept?

If we teach according to likes and dislikes of the children, shouldn’t we include all activities the children enjoy, even if it is not the “top teaching technique?”

It’s not an all or nothing attitude. In all aspects of life, a sprinkle here, a sprinkle there. There is no set recipe. You try this, you try that, you add this, you add that. Worksheets everyday? NEVER, but I do believe that one can find value in them.

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Jen said...

I agree!! Very well put. I don't like to see worksheets as the only method used, but sometimes they are helpful. My four year old loves learning work books, whereas my six year old prefers more hand on learning, so I offer them both. I think a combination of activities that gives them the opportunity to develop different skills is best. I like Howard Gardner's Theory and Bloom's Tax for Thinking.


Anonymous said...

I completely agree. My 5 year old could sit at teh kitchen table and do a whole book of worksheets. She loves them!

Unknown said...

I agree! My child loves activity
based worksheets with lots of pictures.


March 6,2009 11:30 AM

Deborah said...

As an author to MANY worksheets - I have to agree with what you said. Worksheets are helpful, but they do not make the learning experience alone.