We all know that kids in school hate worksheets. I use to cringe when my teacher passed out these little sheets. They were supposed to help us learn the material, but it just seemed like busy work that benefited the teacher more than the student. Although adults loves worksheets and think that they are essential to early learners like preschoolers, here are the reasons why they don’t work for this age group:
1. Preschoolers are very, very hands-on. If you’ve worked with or spent a large amount of time with preschoolers throughout the day, you’ll realize that they need to be physically doing something in order to be engaged. They learn through doing and creating. Paper work is for people who can communicate their ideas through written form. Preschoolers are just barely learning to communicate, period.
2. Most worksheets are unsuitable. I’ve seen a lot of preschool worksheets. If you look at my homepage, I feature a lot of preschool worksheets in my writing. However, I’ve had to sift through a lot of junk to find any good ones. Keep in mind that worksheets are meant to show someone that you learned something. You can’t learn something through a worksheet, you either learn by doing or taking information in. So most are suited for kids who are a lot better at expressing their ideas on paper, not preschoolers.
3. It’s the lazy way out. I remember when I would go to work with my mom. She gave me worksheets to to keep me busy. Little did she know, I had no idea what I was doing. She had hoped that the worksheet would teach me math. Huh? Most worksheets are simply busy work for kids and many use it to teach kids how to do things rather than have to teach it themselves.
4. Do you have amnesia? Not everyone uses worksheets as a teacher. Some, I understand, use it to gauge the comprehension of their children. However, If you are spending quality time with your preschoolers, you won’t need worksheets. You shouldn’t have to ask them to repeat what they know by writing it down. I suggest, if you have your child at home, forget about the worksheets because they are usually used just to show the principal and parents that their kids were learning all day. This is so they don’t have to actually have conversations with the kids about what they are learning. You can’t have personal conversations with 30 students. Worksheets are perfect for this.
So what’s the alternative. How do we still get preschoolers to learn the three r’s without giving them busy work? Here are a few alternative ways.
1. Large white board with color markers. Okay, so you’re not sold on the idea of leaving worksheets behind, but that’s okay. Why not turn a large white board into a worksheet. Have kids practice their letters, numbers and spelling on their large board. Make it fun by using different colors and making pictures for words and numbers. That way it can still feel like worksheets but much more fun and engaging.
2. Turn paper into reality. For math worksheet lovers, you can try a much more engaging way to present the problems on the page. Use manipulatives to add, subtract and count. Have your students draw up their own equations and color them on a board.
3. Practice handwriting everywhere. The difficulty I found with handwriting worksheets is that my preschoolers like to write big when they are just learning to write. Also, they hate tracing. It allows no creativity, which preschoolers flourish on. My kids like to look at a big poster of the alphabet and copy the letters they see on a large board or sheet of paper. You simply can’t expect a preschooler just learning about spacial concepts and size to feel comfortable tracing lines on a tiny sheet of paper. The key to handwriting is being comfortable. Let them write anywhere and however big they want.
4. The best worksheet is blank sheet of paper. You want to gauge their reading comprehension? Have them draw pictures while you narrate a story. Do you want to gauge their motor skills with a cut-and-paste worksheet, have them cut out pictures in magazines and paste it to a sheet of paper. The best coloring page is one that they create. Have them create their own math equations rather than do it for them.