Now, it is no secret that my forum is one of developmentally appropriate practices, so it should come as no surprise that the worksheets I “must do” with my kiddos make me crazy. Why?
Young children learn best through real experiences, through concrete activities with manipulative materials. The abstractness and one-brained method of worksheets prohibit me from differentiating instructions for students in my class, who range from a working level of 18 months to that of a 6 year-old. Watching the thirteen “below benchmark” students in my classroom simply scribble on the sheet is frustrating at best. But the curriculum has a fix for that....another worksheet.
Worksheets are the easy way out. A concept should be taught with multi-levels of experimentation, direction, and differentiation. This takes time. Lots and lots of time. A worksheet simply takes a walk to the copy machine or a simple "rip" from a workbook.
To the other side of the coin, worksheets do not promote nor encourage higher level thinking skills, discovery, experimentation or out of the box thinking. As worksheets generally have one-way of doing, the most the high kids can do is color the worksheet to expand their learning.
Worksheets teach a program, not a child. Seriously? Do “Big Box Curriculum Companies” really think all 21 of my students are at the same place in the learning continuum? Well, if they do, I wish they could have experienced D’s tears today as they poured upon his worksheet.
Worksheets typically have only one right answer. If the concept is taught in a play-based environment, the students are able to take risks and to experiment, and learn from experiencing.
Now, I will admit that an occasional worksheet is beneficial. There are many pages that ask student’s to manipulate, cut, organize, practice handwriting, or make comparisons. Worksheets such as these, purposeful worksheets, if you will, can be used in moderation.
So as I go back tomorrow and pass out that next math worksheet, I will try not to look D. in the eyes, and quietly promise myself that I will teach him using appropriate methods “how to do the concept” at Learning Center time.