Literacy In The Early Years – Why worksheets don’t work?
A lot of research has been done all around the world on the use of testing and worksheets, and the results are always the same. Test-based, traditional, norm-referenced assessment is not beneficial and in some cases, harmful to children’s learning.
Here are some of the key reasons why worksheets do not work:
Not child responsive: Worksheets are usually selected by the teacher, based on what they want their students to learn, often regardless of students’ interests.
One size fits hardly anyone: For some students, a given worksheet will be too easy, and they will fly through it. For other students, the same worksheet will be too complicated, and they will struggle through it.
Work without real learning: Students can complete a worksheet without learning anything. For example, a student who can do simple addition under 10 or match words to pictures can complete 20 questions without building knowledge, gaining new understanding or challenging a misconception.
Work without thinking: Students can complete worksheets without really thinking. Many worksheets are “watch and do”, “read and copy” and “fill in the blanks”. They do not leave much room for critical thinking or encourage the development of cognitive skills.
Incoherent content: Worksheets force children to operate in situations detached from real life. For example, “How many toys does Adam have in total?” Who is really interested to know how many toys this make-believe person has?
Focus on the end product instead of the process of thinking and learning: When worksheets are being used, the focus is on whether they are completed and finished. If they are not completed with the desired pre-determined ‘right answers’, adults may think that the child is incompetent. This is dangerous as our focus should be on the child’s learning and thinking process.
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