I almost titled this blog post, “Remedial Does Not Equal Better” but then thought better of it and stuck with the worksheets title because I think it makes my point better.
I recently attended a homeschooling conference. I try to make it to at least one every year. You should as well. These conferences are great for renewing your vision for your family, providing encouragement and refreshment and, of course, they have curricula on sale. Now, I was on a budget and had already planned what to use for the upcoming six months, so I my purse strings were pretty tightly wound in the exhibit hall, but it was still a wonderful experience listening to the speakers. (More on that in a different blog post.)
However, I did catch many smatterings of conversations behind and around me that also gave me plenty to chew on and consider.
Hence, this blog post.
There seems to be a general understanding in the homeschooling community – especially amongst new homeschoolers – and correct me if I’m wrong – that worksheets are bad. I’m not talking about some worksheets, but all of them. I find a growing number of people who in rejecting the role of a traditional school are considering abandoning every aspect of it – I have written before about memorization here, here and here. I have also mentioned flashcards and how we use them in our homeschool.
And now it seems I must argue for worksheets.
I have to admit I don’t understand the knee jerk reaction to completely rejecting them. Even though my style leans toward unschooling, I do recognize the brain-body connection between writing and repetition and learning something well. And no, I don’t think you should focus only on how many worksheets your children can complete, and no, you shouldn’t be making kindergartners sit for hours and barrage them with worksheet upon worksheet, but there is no need for an en masse rejection of all worksheets, desks and pencils.
Here are a few of my reasons for why you shouldn’t reject all worksheets:
- Some children like them. Mine do. Worksheets give them a sense of accomplishment. They are something the child can look at and know that he has completed on his own.
- They break up the monotony. For all my read aloud friends, it’s hard for the child to listen all day long. Worksheets give children a welcome break and help them use a different part of their brain for a little while.
- Not all worksheets have to be math/reading/writing/comprehension based. You can find some great puzzles, brain teasers or connect the dots that kids love to do.
Just because remedial work in many cases limits worksheets doesn’t mean that all children need to limit them. That’s like saying because some people are near sighted, everyone needs to now wear glasses to read.
Yes, don’t just focus on finishing worksheets, give your children a complete education; yes, by all means, if they’re not proficient enough yet at writing, do the writing for them; and never, ever, ever, ever judge their ability and their worth by if they can complete the worksheet, but don’t be so sure that you can’t use them to gauge what a child has understood about what you’re teaching him with the help of a simple worksheet.
Do you use worksheets? Yea or nay?