When worksheets are mentioned, most parents would be taken back in time when they had to complete their worksheets in school. The loose sheets of paper that had to be filled, mistakes were made and erasing them would leave a mark! School worksheets had to be submitted for review by the teacher; whereas parents struggled at home to create similar problems & puzzles for children to practice.
Read More: Do children need to learn beyond the classroom
Worksheets have always been a part of learning and education. With modern technology, the loose sheets of paper have given way to digital options. Engaging children with worksheets is a fun way to facilitate learning and improving the cognitive, social, and emotional well-being of children.
Here are some interesting ways worksheets act as great learning tools:
Children are known to have an innate ability to think logically. Worksheets enable kids to engage on their own and look for solutions. Worksheets that involve sequencing, spatial and pattern exercises or pictorial activities can build logical thinking in kids.
Helps gauge the child’s understanding of topics
One-way instruction is often monotonous and does not hold a child’s attention. When children solve puzzles & problems using worksheets, it encourages a child to think and apply their mind. It also gives parents a way to gauge the child’s understanding on that particular topic.
Great way to practice what is taught in school
Since worksheets are commonly used as a practice tool, they help children recall what was taught in school by applying their knowledge. It helps cement the concepts for future application.
However, worksheets often come with their own constraints that dilute their impact.
A few concerns surrounding worksheets could include:
- No customization based on the child’s proficiency level
- Static content which can be repetitive and not challenge the child after a couple of attempts.
- Solutions are typically, not instant. We have to wait for a formal review – thus leaving a gap in the learning process
- There is limited motivation for the child to regularly engage and solve worksheets.
That being said, with the advent of technology, easy access to the internet and new age tools; we can overcome these constraints to provide children with the same benefits in an improved and sustained manner:
Importance of a variety of Puzzles & Challenges
Any given concept needs to be viewed in a different context, applied across situations and strengthened. Think of divisibility and its application for ratios – whether we are referring to dividing pizza slices amongst children to distributing project work. We need to be able to apply core concepts in a variety of situations. Smart puzzles are the best option for simulated exposure.
In a related topic, read more on do video games help children?
Inculcating ‘Thinking’ as a Regular Habit
We all refer to practice as an important aspect for perfecting any form of sport or art. This also goes for the skill of thinking and problem solving. The more regularly children solve simulated puzzles and apply their core concepts; the more solution oriented they will become. 15 minutes daily is better than a few hours before a competitive exam later!
Every Child is Unique
Children studying in a given class in school will have the same instruction and pedagogy but different interest and proficiency levels. Most worksheets also are standard and the same ones are given to all the children. We, as parents, have the opportunity to customize outside the classroom when it comes to application of core concepts, puzzles, challenges and more. We should aim at age appropriate and customized difficulty levels for children to stay engaged and interested while solving problems.
Complete Learning & Motivation
In order for the learning loop to be complete, it is ideal to provide a child with a correct answer / solution immediately. It cements the learning and also incentivizes to try again or more forward. Further, challenges should increase in difficulty to keep children motivated and driven. And lastly, we all love to be recognized for our effort and rewarded for outcome. Always put in the good word, pat the back, give a badge for every bit of effort to encourage children to achieve the outcome!
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Worksheets are an age-old, tried and tested medium of reinforcing learning. They are designed to inculcate thinking and application. Today, with technology, we can truly enhance the worksheet experience to include customization, fresh content, regular nudges, instant solutions and gratification for input and output. However, it is ultimately the parents who play a pivotal role to facilitate, encourage and motivate children to apply their mind and aim high!
“The difference between ordinary and extraordinary is practice”
– Vladimir Horowitz