top of page

Homeschooling | Do Worksheets Really Work?

Updated: Oct 22, 2023

September 25, 2023

pumpkin-workbooks-table

If you have read my blog posts about homeschooling or know me personally, I am not a huge fan of “Worksheet School.” Now before you think I’m crazy, I am not completely against worksheets. They have their time and place, but I believe worksheet’s time and place should have a definite purpose and even a limit.


Before we jump too deeply into this blog post, I would like to take a moment to define the word worksheet. According to Wikipedia, a worksheet is “a loose sheet of paper with questions or exercises for students to complete and record answers.”


When I reference the word worksheet in this post, I am referencing the common concept of a piece of paper with material from a current subject where a student has to complete some tasks to showcase his or her knowledge. Usually there is a hard and fast right answer for every task or question on the worksheet. Often worksheets utilize concepts such as fill in the blank, multiple choice, true or false, etc.


In this post, I am challenging myself (and any others who care to be challenged) to think outside of the typical, current educational trend to use lots of worksheets. I am in no way criticizing those who use worksheets (I use them myself!), but I am challenging myself to utilize educational strategies that dig deeper and expand farther than the classic worksheet.


This post is not written like an educational journal or a scientifically researched article but rather a mom’s simple observations on the efficacy of worksheets. Also, this post will not have time to cover optional strategies to worksheets, but next week I hope to present some plausible ideas! This week is just food for thought about if worksheets actually work, and next week I hope to give you some ideas that are working for me.


pumpkin-flowers-books-stuffed-dog

So why do I raise an eyebrow at too many worksheets?


I grew up in an excellent but typical Christian school where we were “worksheeted” to death. Worksheets are the fastest, easiest way to keep overpopulated classrooms in some semblance of control. They keep students busy and allow the teacher a very fast snapshot of a child’s understanding of concepts (not a complete one, I will add).


Early on I learned the system of quickly assimilate the information and then regurgitate it onto a worksheet. In…out, in…out. Minus 1. Minus 3. Smiley Face. Frowny Face. Parent sign here.


Worksheets do not simulate real life. A lawyer isn’t handed a worksheet; he has to write his case. An engineer isn’t handed a worksheet; he has to draft the bridge using his skills and creativity. A mom isn’t given a worksheet on how to run her home; she has to create systems for her own home. A good pastor doesn’t print his sermons from the internet; he writes them as God teaches him. A cyber security officer doesn’t just fill out a worksheet to keep the bad guys at bay; he has to carefully structure and engineer safe policies and systems.


Worksheets can become unnecessary busywork that actually keeps children from meaningful learning. Instead of doing tons of worksheets, I wish that I had more time, access, and exposure to reading. In elementary school I remember trying to get through my stack of worksheets as fast as possible so that I could read a book. By the time I reached upper elementary grades, my reading time had greatly diminished.


If you are a thinking, intelligent adult, you should have just done a double take by my latest statement that I didn’t have much time to read. There’s something very wrong with that picture: a child not having enough time to READ books! The beauty of childhood is having lots of time to soak up good books.


pumpkin-school-books-papers

The main educational tool in Qurollo Christian school will be carefully-selected, educationally-stimulating, real books (not worksheets and workbooks). I want my children to grow up loving reading! Readers are leaders.


I want my children to learn to THINK and COMMUNICATE. How do I know that my child really understands if he just happens to fill in all the blanks correctly? What if he randomly guessed and got all the answers correct in the multiple-choice section?


Worksheets do not provide a complete picture of a child’s comprehension. One of the main problems that I see with worksheets is that most of the relevant information is already present on the paper. All the child has to do is manipulate some words or concepts into the right position, like putting the last few puzzle pieces into place, and voila! he supposedly knows everything about that unit. Worksheets do the heavy brain lifting, and all a child has to do is “push” the last few pieces into place.


Another tidbit to consider about worksheets is that publishers make a ton of money from worksheets. Think about it…they are an easy-to-use educational tool! Therefore, they sell. Just hand your child a worksheet, and now you can say you “did” Spelling or any other subject for the day.


Worksheets are not necessarily the best educational strategy just because there are a ton of workbooks out there. The old adage of “everybody else is doing so I should too” isn’t a good reason to use lots of worksheets. Publishers know the value of workbooks and have capitalized on that perceived value.

 

So you might be thinking, “Ok, Ashley. You have ranted on and on about worksheets. But what in the world do you suggest doing? Do you use worksheets/workbooks?”


pumpkin-school-books-kitchen-table

Let me begin by setting your mind at ease before you think I am an absolutely nutty homeschool mom (which you might already think). Yes, I use workbooks and worksheets in my home but not in exclusivity. In other words, I do not rely on worksheets/workbooks to do all the teaching for me and all the assessing (big word that means checking to see if my child understands the concepts taught).


The short of it is this, I use worksheets selectively as a tool in my teacher toolbox, but I do not rely on worksheets to do the majority of my educating. In other words, I as the teacher am doing the vast majority of the teaching, not a worksheet. As the teacher, I use worksheets as one tool to assess my students, but worksheets are not the only assessment tools that I use.


Stick with me, and next week I will share some very simple yet effective tools that I pull out of my “teacher toolbox” on a regular basis with my students! I think you will be surprised at how simple the concepts are and how adaptable they are to just about any student or subject.


-Ashley


Random-- Did you know that we are 3 months away from Christmas?!!! Check out my post on prepping for Christmas.


Recent Posts

See All

2 Comments

Rated 0 out of 5 stars.
No ratings yet

Add a rating
Mary Palmer
Mary Palmer
Sep 25, 2023

Thank you Ashley! I understand about the worksheet issues! As a child I was in public school worksheets were part of public education! I applaud you taking time to properly educate your kiddos!

Like
Ashley Qurollo
Ashley Qurollo
Sep 26, 2023
Replying to

And I have no problem using worksheets carefully. I'm just concerned about educators handing a worksheet to a child and calling that worksheet the entirety of a lesson--learning the concept and assessing. Hope that makes sense. You are always an encourager, Mary!

Like
bottom of page