Kennedi Harper July 31, 2020 Worksheets
2. Know the author’s background. This person needs to have a background in education and, ideally, should be trained in the latest educational methods, like brain-based teaching/learning. I personally would never use any materials with my child that didn’t specifically mention being ”brain-based.” I am not talking about just ”research-based.” I see more and more sites claiming to have research-based materials, but what I find is definitely NOT based on how the brains actually learns. Brain-based learning is relatively new in the educational world, but most worksheet sites and materials are using old science or, more often, no science at all.
Some free worksheets are not good quality – the pictures are fuzzy, backgrounds print grey or speckled – and children tend to notice these things. If you are using the worksheets to educate your child, you may want to choose good quality worksheets that encourage your child to produce good quality work. After all, it’s a little difficult to ask your child to color within the lines and work neatly when the worksheet they are filling in hasn’t done the same.
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.
Students can certainly benefit from practicing new skills and concepts on paper. From letters and numbers to report summary formats, worksheets can provide students with a framework for practice – an avenue for synthesizing new information in their brains. Well designed worksheets can also give students a platform for expressing creative ideas and reaching towards higher levels of thinking.
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?
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.
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