I’m a paper kind of a girl. It feels official to me. But of course, the trend nowadays is to go paperless. From your newspaper to your tax return, a physical piece of paper that you can hold in your hand is not required. What about school? My oldest is only in the 2nd grade and we are swimming in worksheets and workbooks from the past 2 1/2 years. Is all that paper really necessary?
We have always homeschooled, but when we first began, we were homeschooling through a public charter school. Credentialed teachers would check up on us periodically and require us to submit our child’s work in each subject. Not every lesson we learned had a worksheet to go with it, but I found myself scouring the Internet for them or even making up my own just to be able to “prove” to the school that we’re doing work. Did Gabriel benefit from the paperwork? For the most part, probably not. He’s a hands-on learner (for more on this, see my previous post on Visual and Kinesthetic Learner). Now, I’m not discounting the value of paper activities in school. I do believe it’s a good way to reinforce what is taught. Moreover, it can encourage and motivate the child because he can see what he accomplished. So, we haven’t gone completely paperless. But, I must say, when we withdrew our children from the public charter school and began homeschooling independently, it was a sigh of relief to not be required to produce all that paper!
One worksheet-heavy subject for us has always been math. We used to follow Saxon for our Math, but the amount of work required became increasingly overwhelming for Gabriel. On a typical day, he would have to do a full page of various addition or subtraction problems, then another page of systematic review, then one more page of systematic review to do later in the day. I liked the curriculum, but it wasn’t right for Gabriel. We switched to Math-U-See, which appeals to the more Kinesthetic learner. We like it better, but there is still some amount of worksheets involved. I could tell that from the minute I would hand Gabriel that piece of paper, I would lose him. All those numbers staring back at him was just too much. So, I tried two different things, and they both seemed to work well. These two things gave him the same amount of work, but in bite-sized pieces.
One day, I gave Gabriel a blank piece of paper. Then, I wrote down the first math problem and asked him to do it. After he finished that problem, I wrote another one. And we kept doing this until he finished the whole worksheet. After this, we worked up to two problems at a time, then three. In all these cases, he was able to get it all done in much less time than if I had presented him with all the problems at once. Another thing that we did to “tweak” the math worksheet was to move it to the white board. Again, I wrote out the problems two or three at a time, bite-sized pieces. We’ve also split the board down the middle; Gabriel would do his problems on one side, and his sister, Tamara, would do hers on the other side. It became sort of like a game to them, and math became fun again!
(Photo credit: State Library of Victoria Collections)