Bette Cléo October 1, 2020 worksheets
I have said ”Don’t Use Worksheets” about every way there is to say it, and each time I have included solid brain-based, researched reasons for this statement; and yet, I know that many people will ignore the science in favor of the convenience. It is very difficult to fight the tide when there are so many internet sites pushing worksheets at parents, and so many reputable textbook companies doing likewise. It is difficult to remember the reasons to avoid them when one has very little time to devote to working with math. Worksheets just seem so much easier than doing things any other way. Can they really cause harm?
The answer, of course, is YES they can. In my perfect world of mathematics education, no pre-school child is ever exposed to a worksheet of any kind. I would swing my magic wand, all worksheets would disappear, and the memory of them would be gone forever. In the real world, I know that simply won’t happen. There will still be some parents who will insist on using worksheets.
Then along came digital copiers and the purple-ink mimeograph machine disappeared. But the teaching tool that the mimeograph machine spawned – the worksheet – has lived on… and on… and on. For decades – literally decades – teachers have been enamored with worksheets. So what is the bottom line? Are worksheets a serious teaching tool or an over-used form of busy work? The answer, of course, is both.
Quality may be a little more expensive, but good worksheets will motivate your child to produce neat work that they can be proud of.
Both lower-level-thinking worksheets and too many (even high quality) worksheets can hold students back by not providing stimulus and challenge. Studies have shown for years (just do a Google search!) that children learn best through active involvement and real-life experiences. Virtually every teacher knows that children learn to read by being exposed to books and by being read to, NOT by completing worksheets. The same applies to all areas of learning.
We have come a long way as teachers since those purple-ink mimeograph machines introduced us to worksheets, so let’s be vigilant! Avoid lower-level-thinking worksheets, do not use too many worksheets (even good ones) and NEVER use worksheets as busy work.Instead, let’s fill our classrooms with meaningful, thoughtful lessons and activities that peak student interest and promote higher-level learning. And that is a message worth copying and handing out!
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