Vedette Cassie August 8, 2020 Worksheets
2. To Pay or Not to Pay?
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.
4. NEVER use ”skill and drill” worksheets. These are the worksheets just made up of columns of problems. There are better materials out there, so don’t resort to skill and drill. The very worst problem of skill and drill worksheets is the greatly increased chance of a practiced mistake. The same problem will likely appear several times on the same sheet. A wrong answer once means a wrong answer several times; and a practiced mistake takes hundreds of correct repetitions to fix. This danger alone is important enough to never use any worksheet. I am quite serious about how difficult it is to repair a practiced mistake. Learning is hard enough. Re-learning is much more difficult.
In 1986, mimeograph machines were (for the most part) replaced by digital copiers in elementary schools. Those of us teachers who experienced using mimeograph machines will forever remember the distinct smell of the still-damp, purple-ink worksheets that we handed out to our students – by the ream full. (If you’re like me, you can remember that smell right now!)
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.
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?
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