Jump to content
Home
Forum
Join Us
Articles
About Us
Tapestry

The 'w' Word


HappyMaz
 Share

Recommended Posts

Hope you can help a jaded, well-behind-schedule researcher!

 

My research project for my degree is about the use of worksheets in pre-school settings. I'm trying to design a questionnaire which basically asks practitioners to select the arguments that support their own personal views and opinions about the use of worksheets - whether for or against.

 

I was wondering if you would be prepared to share any views (your own, or those of others!) either for or against? I don't need a huge list (five at most would be good), but if I could have a range of opinions I can choose the most popular to include on my questionnaire. So it doesn't matter if you're just repeating what someone else has already said - feel free to duplicate as necessary!

 

Thank you in advance - it will make it a bit more scientific than if I just write down what I think. :o

 

Maz

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Maz

My own personal stance is against worksheets Ifeel that

1/ staff use worksheets as an excuse not to put effort in to planning an activity

2/ worksheets are sometimes used as a easy way to map development

3/worksheets force children to comform to our views and ideas

4/ Worksheets stop a childs opportunity to explore and express themselves in a unique and individual way

 

These are my own personal views and as you can see I am totally against worksheets but accept the fact that others may feel differently.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Can make a child not want to draw as they feel they cannot do as well as the example shown so removing creativity

 

Can be used as a tool by adult to keep children sat down (seen this one in practice!!)

 

Child concentration, A child of this age is unable to sit for long to be involved in the task and quickly becomes bored

 

Development of other skills for holding a pencil etc are important, and may not yet be ready.

 

Inge

 

suppose you need a few positives too??

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Do you need to clarify what you mean by "worksheet"?

Probably Susan - I'm thinking about a printed paper and pencil-based activity to promote handwriting skills/letter formation, or the development of the concept of number, position, opposites etc. So not colouring sheets, which is a whole other issue!

 

Maz

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ten years ago when I was training I once watched a practitioner call a child from painting at an easle to 'come and do some work'. The child was given a pencil and had to draw a line from one side of the paper to the other pairing milk - cow, eggs - hen etc. I really saw little point then and I have never heard a comment to make me think differently. The aim of the activity was 'pencil control'. I decided then and there I would nevr be so lazy, afterall, everything she needed toknow was available to her with the easle, paints and brushes.

 

I see them as an easy way to look busy, to give an activity without the need to plan, to tick a box saying a child can/cannot do something. I've also seen the ones with the letters dotted on for children to draw over the letters while not one adult is there to support or advise on where to start and finish. The finished result is proof that the children have been doing some 'real' work and can displayed in books or on the wall.

 

I used to hate colouring in as a child because I went over the lines, something I still do.

 

On the plus side, they can be a source of pleasure for some children, and for those who dont want to have a go at mark making in any other area, then I suppose they could be the next best thing. My art teacher in secondary school suggested we use colour by numbers but mix the numbers and colours up first :o

 

The main question I would ask

1. Name one other way the information you are after can be gained in a well resourced setting

xD

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The main question I would ask

1. Name one other way the information you are after can be gained in a well resourced setting

:o

This is the next part of my research, Rea! I am going to select a number of worksheets, designed to promote development of a specific skill or concept, and then design an activity or experience to promote this learning in a 'hands on' fashion. I will also offer the worksheet as an adult led activity on a different occasion (with the same cohort of children). I will offer children the same inducements to take part in each activity, and then measure the incidence of participation, and also the level of engagement of the children as they take part.

 

This will obviously only address the issues of "children like worksheets" on the plus side and "there's always a better way to promote learning than worksheets" on the negative side - the research period isn't long enough to measure how effective worksheets are in promoting children's development of the skill or concept. And anyway, that sort of research calls for a bigger brain than mine!

 

Maz

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Some people may think a 'worksheet' is a useful resource alongside concrete objects to reinforce the written number for example!

 

Can be seen as a tool for writing for a purpose!

 

I personally don't think they are appropriatte for under 8's.

 

1/ inactive

 

2/ 2D

 

3/ adult representation of a concept / object

 

4/ BORING

 

5/ Children depend on an adults comment once completed, ie: not self directive or self satisfaction on completion.

 

6/ Are viewed by children as 'work' (hence the name maybe)

 

7/ non sensory

 

8/ Promotes an expectation of having a end product rather than valuing the process

 

9/ not environmentally friendly

 

10/ are not necessarily presented with a view to differentiation for individual levels.

 

11/ visually uninspiring

 

12/ often require adult direction on a 1-1 basis

 

13/ solitary task

 

14/ cost implication re: reproduction

 

15/ do not necessarily promote language development, shared problem solving, other cross curricular /holistic development/understanding

 

16/ unimaginative

 

 

Peggy

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Unlike you to sit on the fence Peggy - why not tell us what you really think? :o

 

Interesting what you say about them not being suitable for children under 8 - I wonder what the teachers among us will think?

 

Thanks for your huge list - certainly given me something to think about...

 

Maz

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This is the next part of my research, Rea! I am going to select a number of worksheets, designed to promote development of a specific skill or concept, and then design an activity or experience to promote this learning in a 'hands on' fashion.

 

 

Thats what I did for my tutoring interview. Instead of activities I took pictures I'd cut out of eduactional catalogues but I took worksheets I'd found in various settings and online and compared the worth of each. My wish is a ban on published books such as Letts and other educational books for use in the home.

They also hold no information for parents. When I saw them glued into my lads books at school I couldnt see what the thinking was behind them, what my sons had learnt or what skill had been developed, or even what information teh teacher had gained.

My 17 year old says they are just to keep kids quiet while teachers do something else.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

well I did try two sort of positives :o

 

I have actually used laminated sheets, which I suppose you could call worksheets, ie with squiggly lines on or dice type dots, which the children used with playdough, but only if they wanted to.

 

My staff wanted to have them in our office play area, for children to self select if they wanted to but I wouldn't agree to that, much prefer whiteboards and markers (boss's perogative xD )

 

I suppose that if worksheets are a part of the resource bank, so to speak, there is also a consideration as to how they are presented, adult directed and/or self select.

I agree with Rea's 'main question'. There are so many, many more ways other than a worksheet.

 

 

Peggy

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have actually used laminated sheets, which I suppose you could call worksheets, ie with squiggly lines on or dice type dots, which the children used with playdough, but only if they wanted to.

I don't think these would qualify under my description of a worksheet though - since they require a more sensory, 'hands on' approach to the child's engagement with them. Now if you were using a whiteboard marker instead of playdough....

 

Maz

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for listening to my 'confession' HappyMaz :o

 

I do recall this topic being discussed quite a while ago, with arguments for and against, have you tried a search?

 

I think you've chosen a really good subject to research and one that you will find really interesting to study. So, good luck with your research and filtering all the info down to fit your word count. xD

 

Be interested to read the results of your 'worksheet' activites with the children.

 

Peggy

Link to comment
Share on other sites

HappyMaz do you need other settngs to carry out your research? If you do I'm more than happy to try it our on my children.

 

My opinion on worksheets is again for some children they work well, for others no use whatsoever. I think they are the sort of thing which some parents see as 'development and preparation for school'.

 

We don't really use worksheets but do have colouring in sheets which the children do not really use this year but in previous years some of the children have absolutely loved.

 

I have brought over copies of the letters and how to draw them from the primary school. They are in a tough laminated format and are free to access in our writing area. So far no-one has shown any real interest. However the children do like stencilling letters, numbers anything really.

 

I know some places write with highlighter pen and get children to copy, so this is in effect the same thing really. I like the children to come up to me and ask me to write words for them to copy.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This will obviously only address the issues of "children like worksheets" on the plus side

A few years ago our preschool was given a huge amount of 'scrap paper' from the school we had just moved to. This was put into a tray and children were able to help themselves for mark making, drawing, DT etc.

 

Well, it turned out that not all of it was blank, some had old work sheets photocopied on. You can imagine my surprise :o when one of my 3 year olds asked me to 'mark his sums' (had a much older brother in the school). He had a Year 5 maths homework sheet and had filled in all the boxes with numbers, some were actual numbers others were just squiggles!! He had had a great time being just like his big brother.

 

Sorry for the little story, couldn't really think of a positive for work sheets!!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We dont use worksheets in my setting but the children have plenty of resources/papers with writing on for them to choose to copy, which they love so much!!

To get the point across to staff you could translate a worksheet into another language or text and ask them to complete it! Obviously this will be difficult which demonstrates how a child may feel if they cannot read the words on a worksheet given to them! x

Hope that makes sense!!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

To get the point across to staff you could translate a worksheet into another language or text and ask them to complete it! Obviously this will be difficult which demonstrates how a child may feel if they cannot read the words on a worksheet given to them! x

What a great idea! I do a similar activity when teaching students about the value of play - start with a foreign word (in Swahili so most people won't recognise it) and ask them what they know about the word. Then we do the same thing using the English word, then a clip art picture, then a photo, then a pretend plastic thing, then the real thing which they can smell, eat etc... Each time I restrict them to telling me what they know about the object from their direct experiences of it. Obviously the nearer we get to the real thing the more information they can tell me about it. Sometimes I get to the end of the exercise before they understand what I'm driving at - but others cotton on that I'm trying to show them how real objects are much more effective at promoting children's learning than words they can't read/understand, and plastic things that don't look, feel or behave in the same way as the real thing.

 

I don't have a problem with staff's attitudes to worksheets - in fact my deputy supervisor threw her hands up in horror when I outlined the 'action' part of the research which involved offering worksheets to children as an adult led activity. She was even more horrified when I wondered out loud whether we'd need to use them more frequently if the research showed that children actually liked the worksheets... :o

 

Maz

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Shiny

 

What an interesting story! Do you think this might indicate that putting worksheets in a role play area which was set up as a school would be appropriate to model what happens in 'big school'? I'm sure the 'teacher' would have a whale of a time doing the marking - complete with red pen! :o

 

Maz

Link to comment
Share on other sites

the dreaded work sheets there was a discussion on this ages ago so its worth a search

 

as for work sheets, some people (parents) like to see them it gives them a false sense of "more educational" our setting is a preschool playgroup and we have never done work sheets a any kind of planned activity or encouraged children to "come over here and do some work" but parents to pass comment that "all the children do is play" and that school nursery they do more "work" (can only assume they are refering to more formal adult led activities and probably worksheets)

 

now Im not a big fan of work sheets but I would agree that some of the older children in preschool enjoy the "school like activities" they pretend they are "doing work" and if the work sheet is available, age appropriate and chosen by the child as an option in the mark making area (or maybe maths area) then I think they can be used for the older children in the group to "play" at filling in, no pressure to get it right,

 

.... but to move a child from one activity to do a work sheet?!?!? to me seems bad practice

 

I think Id agree with rea that in a well resoursed setting there is probably other ways to get information, pencil control, matching and sorting can all be done without need for a worksheet

 

we have managed so far with out them and have not plans to start introducing them any time soon (with the exeption of some random colouring/ activity sheets in the paper tray of the mark making area)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

:o WOW, what a response.....I personally don't use worksheets and don't like them either. There are plenty of mark making opportunities within the setting inside & outside for the children. Parents seem to like them more because as already said they seem like 'proper educational work' they don't see past the fact that the child has got nothing out of the activity and would learn more through exploring and experimenting on resources available.

 

Would be interesting though to see if the role-play was set up as a classroom with worksheets in what the response would be like....might try that one....if i'm child-led!!!!!

 

Some one has mentioned colouring sheets.....do you feel the same about them???

 

Good luck Maz xD

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm not sure what it says about me but as a child I loved worksheet type activities. Obviously I'm not talking about preschool age - I don't think I can remember that far back! :o

 

We had some worksheet type activity sheets in our writing area but on the whole the children tended to turn them over and just use the blank side to draw on.

 

I wonder if 'lazy' would be the right word to use? I guess if you were stressed and short of time, a worksheet is the quickest way to provide a link to a topic. Perhaps some practitioners don't have a good understanding of child development and how children learn, leading them to think that these are a valuable learning tool? Also, as others have said, there is always pressure from parents to 'prepare' children for school and worksheets are seen as a way to do this.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We don't use them either, but like you Carol I remember liking them when I was at school, finding that I could learn on my own with little adult intervention (being a painfully shy child) I felt a real sense of achievment being able to go off with my little sheet full of questions and being able to work it out on my own? I suppose this is primary school memories. :o

Edited by Guest
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Maz what a fascinating research, Ive got so many questions.... (sorry cant resist)

 

1.Is this the only place you are asking for opinions? I think the nature of the forum is such that you may find more against than for worksheets (or at least amongst those willing to say so), but is this representative of the profession? Im very privileged that I get to go out to all sorts of settings and Id say on balance that worksheets in one form or another are common place in about a third of them, possibly more so in this final term before 'school'.

 

2. I think Susan said earlier that you may need to define what you mean by a worksheet especially if you are sending out questionnaires to unknown parties. Perhaps you would need examples of what is and what isnt.

 

3. If you are carrying this out in your own setting, the responses you will get will depend on your children's experiences already. If you never currently use them and then introduce them for the purpose of research, you will get a very different response from a setting that uses them frequently and where worksheet are a very familiar part of the routine.

 

I'm sure you will have thought out all these things already.

 

Im sure that I've used my fair share of worksheets over the years, and from my own experience find they are more likely to be used by the less experiences practitioners (I find this when I mentor trainee teachers, they sometimes like to have the 'security' of something pre published until they become more confident). But when I was maths coordinator in a small primary several years ago, I banned worksheets in maths, interestingly enough, our SATS results went up quite dramatically 2 years running. I wont tell you what else I banned...

 

Good luck with it all Maz, I'm sure we'll be looking forward to reading your findings...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Fascinating -

 

I work in a country where worksheets are very popular. Those work books walk off the shelves and children younger than 3 are pushed by their parents to write.

 

Before working in a pre school here i spent 4 years as a nanny and vowed when i had children of my own i would NEVER push them and never would allow a 'work book' into my house.

 

My 6 year old son started primary 1 last September, his teacher raves about him, great independance, imagination and interest. As i'm writing this my 6, 4 and 3 year old children have stolen my kitchen scales and have spent 1 and a half hours making play dough sweets, they have the loose change off the side and are happily playing at shops - haven't bothered me once -Bliss. My 6 year old has even made a sign saying sweet shop. The s is back to front, the w is an m, the e is ok and theres an h instead of a t.

 

Now i begin to doubt myself, have i done right? He is in a booster programme at school, he knows the phonic sounds but struggles to write a cvc word correctly, his letters are still formed incorrectly and he has found sight words a real struggle, who knows maybe work books would have helped - i am questioning this issue.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Now i begin to doubt myself, have i done right? He is in a booster programme at school, he knows the phonic sounds but struggles to write a cvc word correctly, his letters are still formed incorrectly and he has found sight words a real struggle, who knows maybe work books would have helped - i am questioning this issue.

 

He sounds very much at the same stage as my 7 year old last year and she is fairly average ability - I am in Scotland where formal education starts a little later and even then the emphasis is very much on play in the initial stages of schooling. When he is ready for it he will pick these things up very quickly so don't worry - continue to make sure that he is enjoying his childhood and is keen to 'read' and 'write' in his own way! The only reason he seems 'behind' is because of the children you are comparing him to. :o

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thx Carol, that makes me feel alot better, just freeks me out what some of these children can do at such an early age - but yes they can't play with other children or express an idea or opinion. His teacher is Austrailian and keeps saying' we don't expect this much from children in Austrailia at this age'.

 

Why do we expect so much under an english curriculum? Any one know? I hate to see him struggling and feeling under pressure, surely he's got enough of that to come, especially as he's said when he grows up he's going to be a Daddy and a teacher : :o

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've just a few things to add to what's already been said!

 

Re colouring sheets - have you ever seen the 'Anti-colouring book'? One of my children had it for Christmas a few years ago. It was fab in that it was a starting point for many imaginative activities, i.e. it was open ended, sowed the seed of an idea which the child could then develop..........

find it here http://www.amazon.co.uk/Anti-colouring-Boo...r/dp/0439963281

 

We don't actively promote colouring books but they are commonplace in some children's homes so we have some in our portable writing area which the children can choose to use if they like. There are also some dot-to-dots which they love!!

 

The only worksheets we have used are ones we have devised for a specific purpose and as someone has already suggested are more for assessment purposes. I'll attach a number recognition one and a letter one. My intention was to assess if they could find a specific number or series of numbers like 1, 2 & 3. The letter one was to see if they could identify the initial letter of their names. The children did really enjoy them and asked for more. These were really a one-off and for a group of children who were about to enter school.

 

I fibbed, just remembered an emotions one which we haven't done for a while. The idea was to see if they could read expressions. They had to try and draw a happy face and talk about what made them happy, then a sad one etc. The adult scribed their responses. It was a fairly useful one but perhaps it tells all in that I haven't revisited it for quite some time!

FIND_YOUR_LETTER.doc

FIND_A_NUMBER_1_TO_5.doc

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I am a supporter of worksheets and highlighter pen IF they are used in the right context.

 

We have drawers in our MM area with colouring sheets, match the shapes/animals etc worksheets, tracing paper, highlighter pens etc AS WELL AS plain paper, coloured paper, pens, crayons, pecils, etc etc.

 

The children have a free choice as to what they choose and what support from us as adults they want.

For example, A 3 year olds can choose a match the animals sheet and colour in the animals, do some drawing on the back or even look at the pictures and spontaneously discover that there are 2 cows, 2 sheep, 2 pigs. Or I might have another 3 yr old who would want my support as to what to do, then we could extend the learning by 'making' his own matching game.

 

I agree if you disturb a child from 'play' to do 'worksheets' then that is a no no, but giving a child a free choice to do what they want, will develop their imagination and yes some may get nothing out of it but some might.

 

As we all keep going on about it - Every child is an individual with individual needs and who are we to say they shouldn't do something like worksheets because we (adults) don't like them because they don't let children develop their own creativity.

 

We (the pre school staff) are not LAZY and everything in our pre school is very carefully planned for to enable each child to have full access to everything that will help them learn through all 6 areas of learning in a safe, stimulating environment.

 

Net xx

 

Thanks for the 'worksheets' LJW, we use similar ones for number and letter bingo.

Edited by net franklin
Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue. (Privacy Policy)