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To worksheet or not to worksheet…

Can my child (3.5 yrs old) count to 10? 

Yes.

Does she know her colours?

Yes.

Does she know her shapes?

Yes.

Has she ever touched a worksheet?

No.

So, do preschoolers need worksheets?

No, in my opinion they do not. 

So what do they need then?

They need to learn through experiences i.e. PLAY. 
They an adult to be a guide/facilitator/ co-researcher. Everything my daughter  learnt has been incidental and not in a formal classroom setting. 

I exposed her to as many different sensory experiences as possible. I let her mix, pour, experiment and play with her food. When she could crawl and walk, she loved (still does) taking Tupperware out the cupboard and wanting flour and water and spoons etc. I would observe what she wants to do and then set it up in a safe way for her to continue playing and be able to make a mess. I let her take the lead in her play.  

Learning while playing also requires trust from the adult. Trust that they can lead their play, have their own interests and know how to play. She is able to draw when she wants, build when she wants etc. If she manages to get a glass bowl or cup that she wants to use, I simply swap it for a plastic one and tell her that I am going to give her this to use instead as I do not want her to get hurt if glass breaks. 

I feel that worksheets at a young age are boring and they don’t really show what they actually know and understand. They can easily memorize the order of the numbers on a worksheet and repeat them, however if you ask the numbers in a different order they might not know it at all. 

We also know that at this age, children’s fine motor skills are still developing, including pencil grip. Biologically the bones in their hands are still forming. It is therefore unfair to expect them to be able to complete a worksheet as it is not developmentally appropriate. 

Remember developmental milestones are very broad. If your child at 2 years old can only recognize and name one colour doesn’t mean they will never know more. My daughter only started speaking at 2,5 years. I was so stressed and thought it would never happen, but it did, reminding me that you can’t force milestones.  They will learn and do it when ready, just trust them and give them space and time. It can be useful to every now and again re-evaluate your expectations of your toddler. 

Provocations or invitations to play are a good way to get a child’s creative thinking and imagination going. For some open ended play invitation ideas sign up to my newsletter to get your free guide.

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