Mar 6, 2013

Homeschool Preschool: Worksheets

Worksheets are a funny thing. Some people rush to give them to preschoolers, while others never want to give them to young children. But in my experience, many kids love worksheets - and eventually all kids need to learn to do them. The key is to figure out when your child is ready for them.

Worksheet Readiness

Does your child:

* Like watching an older sibling do worksheets?
* Try to mimic writing on paper?
* Follow directions?

If you're not sure, give worksheets a laid-back try, remembering not to push your preschooler to do worksheets he's not interested in.

First Worksheet Recommendations

1. Find a full color worksheet that's well within your child's abilities. The idea is to make worksheets as appealing and easy as possible, so she has an excellent first experience with them.


At Wal-Mart, Target, and similar stores, you can find cheap, colorful workbooks for the preschool set. I use these as the basis for my preschool curriculum. (If you have more than one child, you might be tempted to make copies of the pages, so that, over the years, each child can use the same book. This is fine if you make color copies. Otherwise, I recommend a new book for each child; at this tender age, color pages are a huge draw. I also don't recommend putting a plastic page protector over the sheets and using dry erase markers - something commonly done to save money on workbooks when you have more than one child. This practice fine for older kids, but makes writing too difficult for preschoolers. Remember, you want the worksheet experience to be as positive as possible, so your child will be encouraged to like worksheets throughout his school career.)

2. Prep your child by explaining she's now so big she has "Big Kid School Work. (Most preschoolers want to be a "big kid")

3. Have your child use a crayon for writing; I recommend the triangular shaped ones, which help children learn how to hold pencils correctly. If your child sees an older sibling using a pencil and really wants to use one too, allow it, but put a triangular shaped grip on the pencil (or use triangle-shaped pencils) to encourage good pencil-holding habits. (Not sure what a correct pencil grip looks like? Click here. But don't fuss too much about how your child holds her pencil - yet. Too much focus on the proper technique can discourage preschoolers. Once your child is more used to and has success using a writing utensil, you can focus more on the correct technique.)

4. Explain how the child is supposed to do the first part of the worksheet - then show her, too. Ask your child if she wants to trace what you've done. If so, let her. If not, let her try on her own. Don't expect neat work at this age.

5. Sometimes preschoolers want to do their own thing with the worksheet. Let them. But then don't offer a worksheet for a few weeks - or perhaps a month. Part of being ready for worksheets is being willing to follow directions. In addition, sometimes preschoolers don't want to do worksheet correctly because they are too advanced for them - so be sure your child understands the concept before you give her a worksheet.

6. Don't overload your child with worksheets. Most preschoolers will have the patience to do only one side of a page a day. (Although there are exceptions. My daughter always wanted to do many pages a day; be flexible! That's part of the joy of homeschooling; you can cater to your child's needs.) 

Recommended Worksheets

Most of the large, cheap preschool workbooks you'll find in big box stores are quite adequate. However, in addition to them, I recommend:

* My First Big Book of Tracing by Shinobu Akaishi Eno Sarris. This excellent book prepares children for writing.

* A very simple, age appropriate cutting book, like Preschool Practice Scissor Skills by Joan Hoffman and John Kurtz & Rick Grayson or Let's Cut Paper by Shinobu Akaishi Eno Sarris. (See also my post on other ways of developing cutting skills.)

And supplement with the many wonderful and FREE worksheets available online. Some of my favorites are:

 * DLTK - excellent crafts, alphabet learning sheets, games, and more.
* KidZone - alphabet recognition, beginning phonics, colors, tracing, and more.
* Preschool Express - alphabet, art, music, and more.
* TLSBooks - colors, shapes, letters, and more.
* First-School - animals, alphabet, crafts, and more.
* Education.com - seasons, numbers, and more - many worksheets in color.
* Kids Learning Station - another good site for color worksheets.
* Preschool Printables - dot-to-dots, alphabet, numbers, abd more.
* KidsSoup - there is a free for using this site (currently $22 a year), but my kids and I have really enjoyed the crafts and printables here.

Other Ways to Practice Writing Skills

* Chalk on the driveway or sidewalks
* Using a finger to trace letters and numbers written large
* Using a finger to create letters or numbers in sand, rice, flour, and other mediums
* Using a finger to trace sandpaper letters. (Go here for templates to make your own. An alternative is to write a letter on card stock, trace it with Elmer's glue, then cover the glue with craft glitter, sand, or a similar product.)


Be sure to check out the other posts in my Homeschool Preschool series - as well as my Pinterest preschool board!

More Articles in the Homeschool Preschool Series:

Why Homeschool Preschool? 
Thoughts on Readiness 
How Much Time?
Scissor Skills
Numbers
Letters
Colors & Shapes
Sorting

The Balance Beam Game



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2 comments:

  1. I LOVE the workbooks and worksheets you mentioned. I DO NOT homeschool and am a huge believer in the public school system--but I am a VERY involved parent in my kids' schools! But even outside of their scholastic curriculum I believe in supplement materials at home. And yes my daughter loves these books! They are a fabulous activity! GREAT idea on the triangle-shaped crayons--I will pick those up! Great tip!

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  2. I am kindergarten teacher at Phoenix pre-k school. We have introduced maths for kids this year. We have observed that kids are quite interested in manipulative things.

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