Many preschools today are doing away with the concept of using worksheets as a medium of teaching in their classrooms. The Montessori method of teaching or the Playway method of teaching is more extensively used. It is true that the more the children are involved in the process of learning the faster they develop the skills needed for their all-round development. However, one cannot completely do away with the use of worksheets in preschools as they have their own advantages too.
Through this post, I will be discussing the importance of integrating worksheets into the preschool curriculum, the complete guide to making a worksheet for preschool and also the drawbacks of using worksheets. Although I personally did not like using too many worksheets as a method of teaching, it is completely up to the discretion of the teacher and how the preschools integrate the lesson in the curriculum whether to use worksheets or not.
Benefits of Using Worksheets
For many years educators and preschools have been using worksheets to improve the language skills of the children. To develop their logical thinking. The use of worksheets helps enhance the children’s problem-solving abilities. It also enhances their language skills and improves their handwriting. It enhances their small motor skills and carefully created worksheets help increase their brain capacity and knowledge.
- Worksheets created by the teachers can be creative and fun for the children to solve.
- When children are rewarded for solving the worksheets correctly they are motivated to perform better.
- Art and coloring activities can be done on worksheets which helps in writing in later stages. Art is an activity that lets the children express themselves.
- Worksheets are a great way to reinforce the concepts done in class.
- Worksheets are a guideline for the teacher to know whether the children have understood the concepts that have been taught in class.
- Worksheets can be created according to the skill level and age of the children in the class.
- In today’s digital age where children are glued to electronic devices, parents should also be encouraged to make children do simple, creative worksheets instead of just handing them devices to play on.
Components Of A Worksheet
As discussed earlier worksheets are an important part of the preschool curriculum. It is a guideline for the parents too as they are able to understand the progress of their children. Parents also get to know exactly what is being taught in their child’s classroom. Worksheets are evaluated and used as records to put on the child’s progress report. Let us see what are the important components needed to create a good worksheet.
Worksheets are created by teachers as per the skill level and the age of the children in the classroom. These worksheets are blueprints and should be carefully kept in files or folders so that they can be duplicated whenever required.
- Paper: The paper on which the worksheets are made should be a blank white A4 size sheet. Colored sheets should be avoided as the pictures and letterings are clearer on plain and blank white paper.
- Border: Worksheets must have a border on all 4 sides. No fancy borders are needed, just a thin line border on all 4 sides of the paper.
- Heading: The heading of the worksheet should be appropriate and should explain exactly what the worksheet is about. The worksheet should also state the subject that it is related to such as English, Maths, EVS, etc.
- Instructions: Although children may not be able to read the instructions written on the worksheet it is important that the teacher is clear about what she expects the children to do on the sheet. For example, if the activity is to count objects and match it to the number the instruction should be as follows:
“Count the number of objects on each line and match it to the correct number”.
- Pictures: The pictures that are used on the worksheets should be clear and appropriate. All pictures used should be line drawings. The pictures should be labeled wherever necessary.
- Font: While making worksheets it is important to keep in mind that the instructions should firstly be simple to understand and secondly the font used should be simple. Fancy cursive fonts should be avoided. The font that is most commonly used is “Arial”. The font should also be of an appropriate size. The instructions and labeling should be legible.
Skill Level Of Worksheets
Worksheets are used by teachers at every level and at different stages in their classrooms. The skill level of the worksheet depends on the skill sets being taught in the class and the age of the children in the classroom. The difficulty level of the worksheets increases with the progress of the lessons in the class and depends on the age of the children.
For example, worksheets for 2-year-olds or children in the nursery class are simpler than worksheets for 4-year-old children and those in the kindergarten class. For example, a number worksheets for the younger children would be simple recognition of numbers 0-10. As they progress the worksheets could include counting objects or writing missing numbers.
Introduction Worksheet: For every concept done in the classroom the teacher must have an introductory worksheet. Depending on the age group of the children in the class, the level of the worksheet is decided by the teacher. For example, if a letter is being introduced in a lower age group then only a single object relating to that letter can be introduced with it. Similarly, if vegetables are being taught in higher classes then separate worksheets with underground and leafy vegetables can be created.
Revision Worksheets: These are used in class by teachers to check if the children have grasped the concepts taught in the class. This gives the teacher a picture of how many children have understood the concepts and how many are in need of more help. It also enables the teacher to evaluate whether to move on to the next concept or to redo the previous concepts.
Critical Thinking Worksheets
These worksheets are very important to use in class lessons. Some of the different types of critical thinking worksheets are:
- Picture talk worksheets: Use of these worksheets helps enhance children’s observational skills. Depending on the picture teacher can frame questions like why is this so or what do you think will happen? Such questions make the children think beyond what is just there in the picture and help enhance the children’s reasoning skills. For the younger children, the teacher can ask them to observe the picture and point at the different objects in the picture, as instructed by the teacher.
- Sequencing the pictures in the correct order worksheets: These worksheets help children to make sensible and rational decisions in order to reach the end of the solution. For example, if the worksheet is of a person eating a banana. The sequence would be:
- He peels the banana.
- He eats it.
- He throws the peel in the bin.
- He washes his hands.
For the older children sequencing of stories or nursery rhymes can be done. Sequencing of the daily routine of the children can be taken as a concept.
- What’s wrong with the picture worksheets: These worksheets improve the observation skills of the children. It also makes them aware of their surroundings and they are able to reach a conclusion about what is wrong in the picture. For example, if the picture shows fish flying in the sky, children will be able to say that fish live in the water, whereas birds fly in the sky. Similarly, the teacher can make a worksheet with the picture of an elephant with its tail and one ear missing. The children will need to identify what’s missing in the picture.
- Odd one out worksheets: These worksheets help children categorize objects into groups. If enables them to identify what things do not belong to a particular group. For example, if there are 4 underground vegetables and one vegetable that grows above the ground the children identify that as the odd one out of the group.
Also Read: Sorting Activities for Preschoolers
- Coloring Worksheets: Coloring is a great activity for children to improve their concentration and muscle control. It helps them in writing as they progress to higher grades. Children should be encouraged to color within the outline and in one direction, starting from the edges and moving towards the center. Worksheets for children can be created where children are told to color the objects in their appropriate colors. For example, if there is a picture of grapes children are expected to color them in green color. These worksheets aid in teaching children about colors and the colors of the things present in nature.
Also Read: Introducing Colors to Preschoolers
Drawbacks of Worksheets
There are many preschools that are doing away with the use of worksheets. However, sometimes it becomes the need of the hour to use them. Parents need to know what their children are doing in school and a worksheet gives them that guideline. During my tenure as a teacher, I avoided the use of worksheets in my classroom. Except for coloring worksheets, I never felt the need to use worksheets as a medium to teach children. There are various reasons why hands-on activities are preferred over worksheets. I have listed a few of them here:
- Worksheets restrict children’s creative thinking abilities as they provide the children with the option of only 1 correct or wrong answer.
- Worksheets restrict children from the hands-on experience they get by using other materials. For example, sorting toy animals into different categories of wild, farm and pet animals are much more enjoyable and better conceived by the children than when they just use a crayon to circle them on a worksheet.
- Worksheets are not a medium for teaching. When children use all their senses they learn faster and better. Worksheets should be used only as a medium to recap or evaluate the children from time to time.
- While doing worksheets children have to sit in one place. There is no movement and nothing challenging in it for children. For example, while learning about animals and what they eat, rather than giving a worksheet and asking children to match the columns if the teacher arranges for toy animals and the food they eat in the classroom, the children can take the food to the respective animals. This activity involves movement and interaction amongst the children.
- Teachers have to create worksheets according to the curriculum set by the school. Some children may find it difficult to solve the worksheets and may lose interest in the learning process. Hands-on activities are interactive and child-friendly and easier to follow therefore children learn concepts faster.
- Worksheets restrict children from having real-life experiences. For example, showing real fruits and vegetables to children is far better than a pictorial representation of these on worksheets.
I have written many posts about using activities to teach concepts to preschoolers such as Activities to Teach Preschoolers about Reptiles, Learning Through Play-Doh, Blocks and Ice-Cream Sticks, Number Recognition Activities for Preschoolers, and many more.
Whether the school inculcates the use of worksheets in the curriculum or not depends on the teaching methodology they adopt. There is no saying that it is good or bad to use worksheets to teach children. However, it is important that the teachers should make the worksheets age-appropriate, fun and interesting so that the children to want to solve them. Worksheets can be very beneficial for teachers as it helps them to assess whether the children are understanding the concepts being taught in class.
As compared to teaching aids, worksheets are more economical for schools to use. As discussed earlier it also gives parents first-hand knowledge of what their children are learning in school. It also gives parents a guideline of what to teach their children at home.
The internet has a whole lot of ready-made worksheets but it is always advisable for teachers to create their own worksheets. Teachers have first hand knowledge of the lesson plan being set by them. Teachers are aware of the strengths of the children and the concepts being taught in class. They are also aware of the pace at which they want to introduce the worksheets. The aim is to let the children enjoy the worksheets that they are doing and no one knows better then the teacher what her class enjoys the most.