After doing some research, I decided to go against worksheets, at least for a few more years. There was really no beneficial aspect to it, other then a child regurgitating matter they just learned. Or so I thought. On a whim while out of town with the kiddos and time to kill, we got a small workbook from the local dollar store. There was drawing and stickers and figured, why not, it’ll keep her entertained. Boy oh boy did she show me that day!
We started with the stickers, and things she loved doing. Tracing, drawing, doing lines. And then she pointed to 2 of the same objects, and looked at us with a smile. To my delight, she was showing us she could find the same things. I then asked her if she could show me the blue bird, which she did, and pointed to all of them in the pictures, mimicking counting sounds!
As some of you may know, our eldest is still non-verbal. She has a very limited vocabulary which is often jumbled and unusable. A sound has multiple meanings and only those who spend a great amount of time with her can decode it. Most of her communication is concentrated to sharing her wants or meeting a need. Imagine my delight when she decided to share information, just for the sake of socializing and showing her skills! And even better yet, she was showing us she understood the work, in a way she never could have before! While she doesn’t understand the verbalization of words to describe an object, she still understood what blue was, and for the first time in her life, was able to share with us! But it didn’t stop there.
We turned to a page introducing the letter A. She took off, and I thought I lost her. Oh well, we had a good run. But no, she came back running with a handful of her magnetic letters from the fridge. She spread them out beside the book and pointed out to the A. She grabbed the letter and put it on top of the A in the book. The pride in her eyes as she showed me her find was contagious. She kept pointing, and wanted to match more. Eventually I started laying out multiple letters and just asking her which letter was the A, and at that moment, she could point it out without looking at the page. She was showing me she was retaining some information!
We have since started using worksheets daily, not to work on schoolwork, but to progress in our communication skills. She has developed her social skills immensely since starting this method and will now babble to random strangers, with no intent in her communication other then wanting to share with the person. We now play matching games, memory games, and create worksheets as her interest changes. We also let her explore concepts through arts. Although it may not look like much, her drawing over letters still exposes her to them. Most often she will draw directly over them, or join them together.
I agree that worksheets are not a necessity to education in itself. They can be boring, repetitive and stressful to some kids, but with others, they may be a great tool. And there’s no need to follow the written instructions to use them. Take out some play dough and use it as a mat, use multicolored crayons and draw a crocodile purple, or maybe use nothing more then your fingers to trace! They can truly become open ended, just follow your child’s lead and have fun with them.