Anyone who has been following my blog for any length of time knows i abhor worksheets for preschoolers. That’s not to say that there isn’t some developmentally appropriate papers that can be done – but those certainly do not include worksheets!
So one morning last week I was talking to 2 of my co-workers and this was thier brief conversation:
Teacher A: “Oh, I almost forgot to ask, did you give Teacher C those worksheets she wanted?”
Teacher B: “Yes, I almost forgot but I gave them to her right before I left yesterday.”
Teacher A: “Oh good, because that parent has been bugging Teacher C for a few days now telling her she needs to send papers home with her daughter!”
Teacher B: “Well, that’s good, it will give the child something to do and it never hurts to start young.”
Me: “Why would Teacher C be sending home worksheets when she teaches 2 year olds?!”
Teacher A: “Because she has a few kids who are really bright and are getting bored and in trouble so thier parents asked for paperwork for them.”
Me: “So, you’re telling me instead of educating her parents on what is developmentally appropriate for thier children and giving them ideas of activities they could be doing with thier children she is just going to give in to their demands and send home worksheets?! They are 2 for heaven sakes! They can’t even hold a crayon correctly – much less do a worksheet! I teach 4 year olds and I have not sent 1 worksheet home all year and, as young and needy as they are, they are still picking up on what I’m trying to teach! I don’t get this at all!”
Teachers A and B stared at me as if I had lost my mind. They were literally speechless. After a minute or two of silence they made a feeble attempt to defend worksheets at Teacher C – they soon realized I wasn’t going to change my mind. It bothers me how easily teachers (and parents) of young children turn to worksheets. Parents ask me all the time what they can do to help their children. When I give them age appropriate suggestions, most of the parents ask, “Can’t I just get them one of those get ready for kindergarten workbooks instead?” Are parents really that lazy? Or is it the teachers who make the parents believe it’s okay because it’s what they do in class? I don’t know. I can’t believe what they world of education is coming to these days.
I was thinking this weekend that some of my faithful followers (thank you!) out there might be wanting an update on the dilemma I am having surrounding the dreaded worksheet. This is a topic I have vented/complained/bitched (sorry for the vulgarity) about before and it is something I am being forced to do in my classroom this year.
Here’s how it works out for me:
One worksheet I send home each week pertains to the Letter of the Week (something I also hate doing because it never seems to really teach the kids the letters – in my experience). Since I simply refuse to do any tracing in my class I had to go another route. I found this paper to go with every letter of the alphabet. I modify it by using white out on the bottom to get rid of the boxes and just leave a line. There is no way my 3/4 year olds can write small enough to fit in those little boxes – and I wouldn’t expect them to! Sometimes I type new directions to say something like put a square around the letter or highlight it a certain color. I try to switch it up – keep it interesting.
The second page I send home each week is a blank piece of paper that I put 4 black lines on. I made the lines with my word processing program so I know they are straight. On the first line I write the child’s name in red sharpie and on the lines below I have each child try to write their name (they basically try to copy what I wrote for them at the top). I make sure to leave a nice wide space between each line so the children who write big have plenty of room. The lines are basically there so the children don’t write random letters all over the page or write their name vertically. It seems to be working so far. Right now we are only working on our first names – when I see a child has mastered their first name, we will move on to their last name.
The last page is usually some sort of science or math paper. This last week it was recording the length of ocean animals. Next week I think maybe a sink/float recording sheet. At other times it might be sorting or counting or something like that – whatever I manage to find free online (usually through teacher websites) that fit our theme or look appropriate for a preschool aged child.
At parents night I told my parents to only expect 2 – maybe 3 – papers a week. That’s all we feel are necessary as we don’t want to overload the child with paperwork. Also we want all the part time children to complete one paper so we can all move on to the next together. I wanted to tell them I was being forced to do worksheets and that I was sorry for offering materials to their children that were not developmentally appropriate – but I felt that would be out of line.
I do feel guilty though – and I just can’t seem to get over it. Everytime I sit a child down to do a worksheet with them I think, “They could be doing something way more productive right now!” But, we do what we must. If anyone has any good resources for paperwork (free) post a link on a comment – I’ll be glad to give it a look!
Hopefully my parents are happy this year and don’t complain a lot like my parents last year. I’ll keep you posted if any worksheet drama pops up in the future! 🙂
Okay, so I need to send “paperwork” home so the parents “can see what their child is learning each day.” A quote from the meeting. Because God forbid a parent interact with their child through games, songs, books, outings, etcetera to find out what they know…God forbid they actually be “parents”. (sigh) Don’t get me started.
Back to the topic at hand – paperwork (as some would say, worksheets). As you know – I pretty much hate them and don’t feel like they belong in a developmentally appropriate preschool learning environment. But I must do what I have to so that I may keep my job. But I will do it on my own terms and in my own way – it’s time to get creative!
I’m not against all paperwork. I just want that to be made clear. I believe in “appropriate worksheets”. For example, a data recording sheet for a science experiment – perhaps recording what was magnetic and what wasn’t. You get the idea. I’m against repetitive tracing or drawing a line from one rhyming picture to another – etcetera.
The problem is I need more appropriate worksheets – for all areas of learning – and I don’t know where to find them. Or, perhaps I can make them on my own if I had a good idea. I would appreciate any ideas or perhaps teacher websites or free printable sights any of you might know of that has the kind of stuff I’m looking for to help me out. Something that can get the children more involved but still be “paperwork” to send home. Thanks!
I’m very frustrated right now! I just got home from a staff meeting where the law was laid down about how we have to do things in our classrooms no matter what – we were informed failure to comply means our position will be terminated! The law was laid down by our director’s boss. Okay, that’s understandable – but I’m having a hard time accepting what they are asking of us. We were told that next school year we will have to do worksheets on a daily basis. No if, ands, or buts about it – do it or be out of a job. End of story. Don’t like it – leave. I can’t leave – I need my job. But knowing what I do about child development and developmentally appropriate practice – I don’t know if I can do what they’re asking. Well, I know I could do it – but it would be hard to look myself in the mirror everyday. I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place. I have to come up with a way to do paperwork without doing worksheets. How do I accomplish that?!
We were also told we had to do letter of the week next year. I don’t like letter of the week. I hate it – always have…it makes no sense to me. My children (for the most part) learn all their letters without letter of the week. I just don’t see the point of changing my entire teaching style (when I’ve been allowed to teach this way already) to “comply with what parents expect”. I get it – the parents are our clients – why can’t we just take the time to educate them? Why do the children have to suffer because of their ignorance? I don’t know what to do. I need a job – so I have to comply. I just need to find a way to make everyone happy in a developmentally appropriate way. I just wish I knew why they were being so stubborn about this! I know I was being singled out here – and so did everyone else. I am the only teacher that does not currently do these two things – but my children still learn. They are still ready for kindergarten. What’s the big deal here people?!
I feel sick – and I’m in panic mode right now. And I’m venting – but I’m done for now. Any ideas would be helpful. Really. But please, don’t suggest going to talk to the people in charge. I’ve done that – and lost the battle…I need a new strategy now….
I’ve never really paid attention to what the other teachers at my school do in their rooms. I only know what the teachers have told me. Recently, however, I’ve gone more out of my way to see what goes on in other rooms – and I’m appalled! There doesn’t seem to one one developmentally appropriate classroom in my school besides my class! It’s sad and I feel for the children who are missing out on sooo much! Here are a few examples:
Kindergarten: I don’t like getting the Kindergarten children in my class every afternoon when their teachers go home. They are wild, loud, and incredibly disrespectful! Now I think I might understand why. It has come to my attention that all they do all morning is sit at table and do worksheets. No play. No fun. Workbooks and worksheets. I was skeptical of this – how could anyone make a 5 year old do worksheets all day? How can this be meaningful work to a child? So I questioned the children – and they confirmed what I had been told! The sad thing is – no one but myself sees a problem with this!
Older Pre-k Class: These children are 5 but had birthdays that were after the Kindergarten cut off date or were simply not ready. So they are put in this class for an extra year. I was talking to the teacher telling her about some of the collages and gluing projects we’ve been doing and about some of the paintings my children have made. She got this look of horror on her face and exclaimed, “You let your kids glue by themselves and use paint in the classroom?!” I nodded in confirmation. Her reply was, “I never let my students touch a glue bottle or paint in class – it’s too messy!” Never let them paint or glue?! I wanted to ask her: “What is wrong with you?!” but I knew better. She told me if an art project requires glue – she does it for them. Anyone else beside me see a problem with this?! I’m disgusted!
3 year old class: These children come in and are barely 3 years old. I walked in one day on my break to ask for something and there was the teacher sitting at a table do worksheets with 3 year old children! Yes – with 3 year old children! As you can imagine I was, once again, appalled and disgusted! She later told me that parents expect them and that’s how they can show parents how the children are learning…and blah blah blah. Nonsense. Then I looked around at the art on her walls – all coloring sheets! No opened ended art at all! None. These children are simply deprived! No wonder they are over whelmed with the variety of choices they get when they come to my class! They’ve never had the opportunity to think and discover for themselves!
It’s just sad. And these aren’t the only examples I can give. There are plenty more. I work at a school where teachers don’t care about developmentally appropriate practice – and neither does the director. It seems like their motto is, “Whatever is the easiest is the best!” Most of all I feel sorry for the children. This is why I fight so hard to keep worksheets out of my class and more hands on experiences in. A fight I have to continue on Monday because a parent (actually one of the same parents from before) complained again about the lack of worksheets. But I know in my heart what children need to grow and develop fully and as an adult in their life, I need to stand up for them and be their voice in this matter. So, I have to try to convince my director (who told me she likes worksheets – so basically she is on the parents side in this matter) to let me do some parent education and hand out this brochure next week. Wish me good luck…Lord knows I’ll need it!
A couple of weeks ago Ms. Lezze-Faire came to Ms. Bennet while I was on my break and started questioning her as to what our curriculum was and what we did in class. She of course had no idea. Apparently two parents had complained that their young child couldn’t be learning anything in our class because they weren’t bringing home worksheets. And, of course, the parents couldn’t just come directly to the teachers and ask – that would be too easy! They just HAD to involve Ms. Lezze-Faire!
So, Ms. Bennet explained that we don’t do worksheets because we feel that they are not developmentally appropriate for young children. She also explained to her some of our hands-on activities that we do to get the children involved in their learning. She also mentioned that we conducted and sent home progress reports in December (and will do so again mid-March) and that the majority of the children were right on track. She also explained that we don’t follow the schools “Letter of the Week” curriculum – we have made the choice to introduce the letters that correspond to our thematic units – and so far it has worked because 90% of my students know 3/4 or more of the alphabet (both upper and lower case).
When I got back from my break Ms. Lezze-Faire and Ms. Bennet got me up to speed on the conversation. I asked her who the parents were that were concerned. She wouldn’t tell us. I don’t know why – maybe she was afraid we would actually say something to them and work the problem out! She finally broke down and gave us a small hint – implying that this child went to a different school last year. That narrows it down to 2 friends in my class – I just wish I knew which one it was! She also said the other child has a sibling in Kindergarten right now – and I only have one child in my class who fits that description!
She went on to say that she loves how every teacher has their own teaching style. But in that same breath she told us that we should start doing a couple worksheets a week just to “appease the parents”! Umm – no. I don’t think so. If these parents have such an issue with how we teach – they need to come to us and let us know!
I told Ms. Lezze-Faire if they had bothered to come to parents night at the beginning of the year – they would have known and fully understood how we teach our class! But God forbid a parent can sacrifice one evening for their child! She agreed but said there was nothing we could do about that. It still irritates me that only 3 of my parents showed up that night – and I have 20 children in my class! But I digress…
I asked Ms. Lezze-Faire who cares if we do worksheets as long as the children learn what they need to know? Her answer: Apparently the parents care! (gasp) Wow! This is the one time they actually seem to care! Go figure. Then she said she didn’t know what else to tell me; I’d just have to work it out as best as I could. In my head I rolled my eyes and sarcastically said, “thanks a lot!” but on the outside I smiled and thanked her for telling us.
So this last week I made a point to talk the parents of our friend who has a sibling in Kindergarten. I told them how bright he was and how he would be ready for Kindergarten come fall. I went on and on – I really laid it on thick because I know he will be more than ready! (Although he does have a tendency to sometimes act like a two year old! Boys can be so immature.) Anyway, his mother smiled at me and said (this is a direct quote), “Oh I’ve been wondering about that! We haven’t enrolled him in Kindergarten because we didn’t know if he’d be ready! But now we can sign the papers! Thank you! He likes school so much – he even does his sisters homework!” Yes, you read that right. Apparently, he does his sisters homework! His sister who is in Kindergarten! Yet – she wasn’t sure if he was “ready” for Kindergarten! How does this possibly make any sense! It makes me want to scream and pull my hair out!
And in case you were wondering, I have no plans to “appease the parents”. If they have an issue – they can come and talk to one or both of us – end of story. I am here to do what’s best for the children. They come first and are my priority. And I will not compromise that for anyone.
Ms. Lezze-Faire sometimes astounds me. Last week we were playing with play dough at one of our centers when she came into our room. When she saw the play dough, she got this disgusted look on her face! I asked her what was wrong and she replied, “I hate play dough! It’s disgusting!” I gave her a quizzical look and she said that it’s just a germ spreader because children wipe their noses and put their fingers in their mouth and then touch the play dough.
I didn’t know what to say – I was dumbfounded! I told her that my children don’t wipe their noses with their hands – they use tissue – especially this late in the school year. I also said that we watch them carefully so nothing goes in their mouths. But she didn’t care – she said she still wouldn’t have it in her classroom!
Then she saw the unit blocks. When I came into my class 3 years ago – the only blocks I had were Lego’s. No wooden blocks at all! So, over the past 3 years I have accumulated about 100 unit blocks for my class and about 70 tree blocks. All out of my own pocket – and they’re not cheap! Which is why I got almost all used on eBay. When she saw them she asked where they came from. I told her I bought them because I felt the children needed them as part of a good preschool classroom. She just said, “Oh, I see.” and walked out. I still have no idea why she even came into my class to begin with – it’s a mystery!
In case you were wondering why she didn’t buy me wooden blocks out of the school’s budget? She told me, when I asked, that there were no wooden blocks in any of the classrooms because the children throw them and make them into weapons! That was her excuse! I couldn’t believe my ears! Who is running the classroom anyway?! Where are the teachers supposed to be?! I told her that has never happened in any of my classrooms! I set boundaries for my children and clear expectations and they follow along with no hassle.
It is very evident Ms. Lezze-Faire has no concept of developmentally appropriate practice…
*Picture found through Google Images*