Published at Monday, 02 August 2021. Worksheets. By Jeanie Halima.
Several months ago, as I was beginning to write materials for parents to use while helping their children with math, I decided that I should do some research to see if materials similar to mine already existed. I checked a local educational store which is primarily for home-schooling parents and I checked out the new educational section Barnes and Noble had just added to their stores. I was shocked at what I found. Worksheets, worksheets, and more worksheets. I would pick up a book with a lovely cover and catchy title, but inside–just worksheets! Both stores had row after row of very enticing books and workbooks each containing page after page of worksheets. So very disappointing! What do I have against worksheets? Keep reading. I think that everyone agrees that students today are weak in their basic arithmetic skills. Many adults are equally weak with basic skills but you probably will never hear them admit it. If you were to investigate this weakening of basic skills, most sources would point to the advent of the calculator; and there is some truth to that. But the beginning of the decline in basic skills actually goes further back–to the widespread use of copy machines. Yes, copy machines.
In my research, I did find one excellent book by Marcia L. Tate titled ”Mathematics Worksheets Don’t Grow Dendrites.” She is referring to the latest in brain research that shows that boredom actually destroys dendrites (connectors in the brain). She gives 20 different strategies for improving learning and provides many different activities designed for K-8 math. I highly recommend her books. Both Marcia Tate and I are saying the same thing–don’t use boring, fill-in worksheets. We want our children growing new dendrites, not destroying them. I also offer a caution here. Many of the materials offered online for parents to help their children are nothing more than worksheets. Look before you buy. You don’t need worksheets. Use a small whiteboard instead.
When your children have their addition facts memorized, they make fewer mistakes. One of the most common comments made by homeschooling mothers is how many math problems their children miss on a daily basis. One way to put a stop to this is by having your children memorize these facts. Having to stop and calculate basic facts on each and every math problem makes for a very long math lesson with many mistakes. This is frustrating to both the parent and the child.
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