September 8, 2017 Carol Miller

Do Standards-Based Learning Worksheets Make Learning Engaging?

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Imagine a situation where your child, who is starting college, gives you a call and says she is failing her philosophy, art and creative writing classes.

She tested extremely well all throughout high school on standardized exams and can regurgitate any material given to her.

Now, imagine another situation where your other child reaches out with this same call and says he is failing mathematics, language, and history.

His mind flows creatively in some subjects, but he doesn’t have the discipline for learning repetition.

I know, these are two extreme instances, but we all have seen how the educational system tends to overreact and overcompensate, through the years, on certain issues about how children learn.

I recently talked to parents who said their child’s curriculum is completely moving away from worksheets and others in a different district get fed worksheets.

Who is right?

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It is now standard practice that schools and preschools are adapting to the current teaching culture and using worksheets for children as one of their most efficient tools for learning.

Kids love to have fun even when learning.

Worksheets can help children learn better and faster. It’s a proven and effective teaching methodology worldwide. The question is, does this form of education, so widely accepted, impede wonder and imagination?

Worksheets offer a distinctive learning avenue to kids. They are not only enjoyable to do but even facilitate ease of learning and knowledge retention in the young minds.

Children, early in their educational pursuits, infrequently have the first idea on how to study.

However, if you give them a worksheet to solve, they will take it as a challenge and work their minds to find the answer.

This is how worksheets for kids come in handy; they help children think more and understand their syllabus.

As Compared To Heavy Text Book Hypothesis, Worksheets Are Easier To Comprehend Even For The Parents. This Makes It Easier For Parents To Spend Time With Their Kids And Make Them Revise Or Explain The Worksheets To Them

Worksheets can help children, in many ways, like promoting the importance of daily exercise in a very fun and encouraging way.

We don’t want children to think of tasks as work, so worksheets have the ability to allow them to think of being active as fun. This is in addition to the standard math, vocabulary, and reading comprehension worksheets.

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In many preschools, kindergartens, and child care centers, young kids spend their time on worksheet pencil and paper tasks.

Teachers, who utilize worksheets, believe they are demonstrating children’s learning growth to parents.

However, there is a train of thought that worksheet activities are not developmentally appropriate for the preschool and kindergarten years and can cause many problems which we will go into detail about below.

Worksheets Help Children Develop Cognitive Abilities

The mere accomplishment of a worksheet task does not signify the child’s ability to read or comprehend, but there are many reasons why worksheets are so readily used in the classroom.

Better Comprehension

These innocent young minds undergo a lot of pressure while exploring different topics of the syllabus. At times, they often try to memorize concepts if they don’t fully understand the meaning of them.

In this scenario, worksheets provide an excellent means of understanding of different concepts.

Through worksheets, the learning experience is much more productive and enriching for young minds who often hate going through long stories and conceptions listed in books.

Fun Learning

Making children study for long hours is one of the most difficult tasks as they have a very short attention span. So, the time kids manage to sit, and study is very precious for parents.

Now to make these young minds understand what they are learning is a very tricky task.

Worksheets are a great tool for practicing, and practice often helps children understand concepts better.

Makes Studying Easier

Regular studies are good, but it will not be useful unless children know what they are studying.

Children often despise reading long, tedious stories. In fact, they like to understand the meaning first and then study.

This is possible only if the topic interests them, or else they skip the question or try to memorize it as is.

Worksheets, on the other hand, explain every single problem in a very simple manner which is also comfortable for children.

When Children Talk About Their Memories From The Year, They Remember The Interesting, Enjoyable Exercises And The Arts-Based Activities. It’s Rarely A Worksheet.

There is a movement away from worksheets and to use more arts-based lessons in some educational institutions.

Teachers are discovering that there is a positive correlation in student engagement.

As the art materials are brought out for an activity, the excitement becomes apparent. If a student is out ill on a given art day, they miss learning experiences and not the memorization actions of a worksheet.

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Hands-on learning is educational methods that directly involve the learner, by actively encouraging them to do something to learn about it. In short, it is ‘learning by doing.’ But is it an effective way to learn, or a trend?

Hands-on learning allows children observe and understand what is happening directly. This is a particularly advantageous way to teach kinesthetic learners, who learn best by example. It

is often hard to accurately comprehend something you have never directly seen or experienced. This is why lately hands-on learning has become more popular in education. There are more vocational classes that provide job experience than ever before.

The Worksheet Quandary
Worksheets typically have a ‘correct answer.’ Students may learn quickly that putting down a wrong answer is emotionally costly. Worksheet activities can make them feel ignorant and incompetent so that the child realizes to stop taking risks by guessing.

Problem Solving Contains An Element Of Risk. If We Want KidsTo Learn To Solve Problems, We Must Create Safe Environments In Which They Feel Secure Making Mistakes, Taking Risks, Learning From Them, And Trying Again

In a play-based, hands-on curriculum, each day provides opportunities to learn about reading, writing, and math through real, meaningful situations.

Through these significant experiences, children begin to understand the number, quantity, size, and other mathematical concepts.

A play based curriculum presents kids opportunities throughout the day to cultivate the ability to think abstractly by understanding real objects using their senses.

Emotional Development
In any group of young children asked to do a writing task some will succeed, and some will be less successful. The successful children may actually comprehend the assignment or may just have guessed correctly. The less successful ones often learn to think of themselves as failures, and eventually may give up on studies or themselves.

Parents Sometimes Report Children Have Overanxious Actions Such As Headaches Or Refusal To Get On The Bus. These Kids Have Determined At An Early Age That School Can Be An Emotionally Traumatic Place

Physical Development
Children are born with a need for activity. They play as naturally as they breathe including running, jumping, climbing, and crawling. When we insist that kids sit still and perform what they may consider a trivial task like a worksheet, we force kids into a position unsuited with their developmental needs and abilities.

On the other hand, if we allow kids to decide their task from among suitable offerings, we may see them as young as three years old spend a half an hour to an hour completely absorbed in building with blocks, hand painting, or engaged in storytelling. When adults arrange for developmentally appropriate activities for kids, they will learn and work hard.

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Social Development

Teachers usually state, regarding worksheets, to do your own work and don’t look at others papers. There are few situations in the real adult world in which we can’t ask a work colleague or friend for help with an undertaking or their thoughts on a problem.

Leaders in business and industry say they need employees who can work in teams to solve problems; however, we ask kids to do what are tough tasks and make them suffer through them solo.

These foundations for social interactions are built in the early years of children’s’ lives.

This is the time when we find out the roles we may play, the rules for getting along in the world, the consequences for not abiding by rules, and how to form friendships.

The only way to figure out these concepts is to connect actively with others. When we do not allow children enough time to complete basic social tasks, the stage is set for social problems later on.

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Developmentally Appropriate Activities
There are many active and far more enjoyable ways for children to begin understanding words and numbers than via worksheets.

A classroom with a developmentally suitable curriculum is a print rich environment. The hallways are enveloped with labels identifying objects, stories kids have read, lists they have produced, drawings they have painted, and charts of projects.

However, there are downsides to these procedures.

Often demonstrations will give students the central idea of how something works, but place less importance on detail.

For children hoping to attain the good grades, they may need to study their subject more to develop a deeper comprehension of it. Students may feel after learning the fundamentals they do not need to do any more studying, which could negatively impact their grades.

Parents and teachers need to go through these exercises with worksheets and hands-on learning:

  • Is the worksheet the center of the lesson, or is it just a tool for obtaining thinking?  If the educational activity is designed around a period of direct training followed by a block of time during which the students finish worksheets, it is likely that your kids are not entirely thinking or engaged in deep and meaningful ways. Figure out how you can spice it up.
  • Does the worksheet ask kids to complete comprehension questions from a story? You need to find meaningful ways to determine their understanding.
  • Does the worksheet expect children to recall and list truthful information about science or social studies? Figure out ways children can demonstrate what they understand. Can they make a drawing? Can they build a clay structure? There are endless avenues.
  • Could the worksheet be substituted by technology? In this day and age, kids have access to smartphones and computers. Mastering technology can prepare a child for work in the real world.
  • Is there an experience that could replace the worksheet? Instead of completing a worksheet about the formation of a butterfly, could children go into the woods and locate butterflies in the forest? Could they keep a journal and describe what the butterfly is doing over the course of five minutes?
  • Does the worksheet ask students to draw or label something? You should let them make a complete drawing instead. They are far more likely to recall the appendages of a tree if they draw them rather than tagging a worksheet of clip art.
  • Is the worksheet full of route math problems and facts? Math and vocabulary worksheets are necessary for different stages of development. Could you try to balance these worksheets with stations and games? They are socially and physically engaging.

The question is not whether we should make use of worksheets in our teaching, but it should be ‘Are you working with children in the most real, captivating learning experience at this time?’

Too Often Worksheets Turn Into The Curriculum Instead Of A Carefully Selected Tool Used To Support The Curriculum.

Demonstrating Progress
Worksheets and workbooks should be utilized in schools only when children are older and developmentally ready to profit from them.

Our challenge is to encourage parents and others that in a play based, curriculum children are learning valuable knowledge, skills, and attitudes that will help them be successful in school and later life.

If we fail to demonstrate a student’s progress with worksheets, how do we provide evidence of learning? Below are a few examples:

Portfolios: A portfolio is a compilation of a child’s work; they can include the following:

Observations: Audio and video tape can capture kids doing activities.

Photos: Photos of activities in the classroom should be shown around the school. They give illustrative proof to adults of kids working and learning in an electrifying and fertile atmosphere.

Work Samples: You should embrace keeping samples of the work of students, and they should have a say in what is included. Each sample should be dated to emphasize the progress throughout the year.

Checklists: These can be used to record the skill development of children. Growth in skills like handwriting, letter understanding, and number recognition can be listed and checked off as children understand them.

Proper Worksheets: Children can improve imagination and wonder from appropriate worksheets that emphasize this development.

Subject Labels: Parents can understand what their kids are learning by signs in learning areas detailing the value of work in that subject. Signs assist disbelievers in witnessing what is happening as children work at play.

Parent Bulletins: Teachers can send home recurring parent newsletters which detail the activities kids are doing at school and the teacher’s goals and objectives. When parents comprehend the importance of developmentally suitable activities, they will feel convinced that their children are growing and learning, not ‘just playing.’

There Is A Time And Place For Worksheets And A Time And Place For Hands-On Learning And Do It Yourself Projects; Combining These Methods Will Develop A Well-Rounded Child

Wrapping up, monitor your kids’ worksheets and what they contain.

Which ones are valuable and worth keeping? Which ones could be replaced with something that focuses more on imagination and wonder?

If you can trade out a few ‘boring’ worksheets for something more imaginative, you have taken a step in the right direction.