Margot Maëlya February 22, 2021 worksheets
If you have read my article ”Helping Your Child With Basic Arithmetic? Stay Away From Worksheets” then you know that I am not a fan of traditional worksheets. After writing that article, I found another credible teacher who has written many ezine articles expounding on the benefits of worksheets. I decided some clarification of position is in order. The primary problem with most math worksheets is that the problems are already written out and the child need only write the answers. For learning and practicing the basic skills of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division, it is much more beneficial for the child to write out the entire fact and say the entire fact out loud. A child will learn a multiplication fact much faster if they are writing out 6 x 8 = 48 at the same time they are saying ”six times eight is forty-eight” than if they just see 6 x 8 = ___ and only have to supply the 48.
Here are five reasons why math worksheets don’t work if you want students to understand math, enjoy math, and think mathematically. 1. Math worksheets are not engaging. Numerous research studies have found that when students are actively engaged with the content, they have a much better chance of understanding and remembering what they have learned. Unfortunately, math worksheets tend to bore most students, especially those who need the most help in math. Engagement entails much more than rote repetition of a procedure. Math worksheets tend to present very similar problem types over and over, leading to mundane practice of disassociated skills. For students who understand the material and successfully complete an assignment, another worksheet becomes meaningless. On the other hand, for the students who don’t understand the material, an alternative method of instruction is what’s needed. Another worksheet simply adds to the student’s frustration, or worse, contributes to a belief that ”I’ll never understand math.” A cute image or a ”fill-in-the-blanks” riddle does nothing to increase engagement or learning (and let’s face it, those riddles are not funny!). Instead, teachers need to increase engagement by providing students with exercises in which they discover patterns and relationships, solve problems, or think creatively about math relationships.
No matter what materials you choose, it is most important that you supervise your child constantly so that mistakes get caught rather than practiced. I learned this particular lesson the hard way. When my daughter was young, she did something that needed ”attention.” I no longer remember what it was that she did, but I told her to write the sentence ”I will not disobey my parents again” 50 times. I should have known better, but I didn’t check on her at the beginning and then I got busy. So, sometime later, she brought me 50 sentences of ”I will not disobey my parents agen.” She had just practiced misspelling ”again” as ”agen” — 50 times! I’m not certain that we ever really got that fixed. This issue of NOT practicing mistakes is extremely important. Parents shouldn’t give worksheets as busy work and teachers should only use them if you are going to have a non-math teacher substitute. White boards with supervision are always a better way to practice skills. If you need some time to do chores, your child will get much more benefit by helping you with the chores. And maybe you can work in a little discussion of numbers or counting while you do chores together.
Homeschool worksheets are a vital part of the student’s homeschool experience. They allow the child to test his or her knowledge, and they offer them a practical application for their learning. Worksheets also, when used properly, provide both the students and parent / tutor immediate feedback as to the child’s progress. This means they can be used to point out areas where the student needs further reinforcement. Homeschool worksheets fortunately will not over-tax your budget. There are many places where you can get them at extremely low costs. In fact, several websites offer printable worksheets for free. You can find worksheets for a wide range of courses–almost any course you want to teach your children. These include spelling, writing, English, history, math, music, geography, and others. They’re also available for nearly all grade levels. There are printable middle school, high school, elementary school, and even pre-school worksheets.
Rather than using worksheets, a better method is to use individual size white boards and have the child writing entire facts many times. Having a child writing 9 x 7 = 7 x 9 = 63 while saying ”nine times seven is the same as seven times nine and is equal to sixty-three” is many times more successful than a worksheet with 9 x 7 = ___ and the student just thinks the answer once and then writes that answer on the duplicate problems. I will admit that there is one type of worksheet that I used in the past and found relatively beneficial, although it had a different kind of flaw. For my Basic Math, Pre-Algebra, and Algebra classes, I had several books of ”self-checking” worksheets. These worksheets had puns or puzzle questions at the top, and as the students worked the problems they were given some kind of code for choosing a letter to match that answer. If they worked the problems correctly, the letters eventually answered the pun or riddle. Students enjoyed these worksheets, but there are a couple problem areas even with these worksheets. Some students would get the answer to the riddle early and then work backward from letter to problem answer, so they weren’t learning or practicing anything.
There are other sources for worksheets also. You can find many public schools and private schools which will provide free worksheets for you if you buy textbooks from the school. Or you can usually find textbooks and workbooks at the public library, where you can also copy any worksheets that you want to use. So what kinds of worksheets should you get? Anything where you feel that your child needs further drill. We often have this notion that worksheets are just for math. This, of course, is not true. While they are excellent tools for reviewing math facts such as the multiplication tables and division facts, they are just as useful for reviewing parts of speech or the states in the union. When you’re teaching your student to write, there are a whole host of worksheets online that you can use. Many of these include clipart that will help the students learn the sounds of letters and letter combinations. There are other sheets that help the student learn to write his or her numbers. It’s helpful having printable worksheets for something like this, because parents often go through quite a few of these before the child masters writing the numbers or letters correctly.
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