In Defense of (gasp) Worksheets

I see it in action

Don’t get me wrong—I’m a huge fan of board games both at home and in therapy.  I’m big into crafts (even glitter).  I like cooking projects, sensory boxes and lot of (strategically selected) free play.

But today I’m speaking in defense of the much maligned worksheet.  When and why did these become so scorned?

To start, let’s create a quick definition.  A worksheet to me is any paper/pencil activity even if you get to do some coloring or cut/paste.  And I’m talking about using these with PreK and up.

I have several little people that like and, yes, request worksheets.

Here’s why I’m not giving them up anytime soon.

  • It’s portable.  I’ve got a great room, but it isn’t attached to the school.  When the weather is really miserable and I don’t have much time either, I bring a worksheet that we can do in any available corner of the “big building.”
  • It looks grown-up.  Some of my little crave “real work.”  It’s like playing teacher or office.
  • I can send it home.  I don’t see parents very often and though I send progress notes home each month, sending home our “work” every few times is a gentle reminder “don’t forget about speech!”
  • There is endless variety and specificity.  There are so many options out there with really specifically targeted goals.  I can get at exactly what I need to with no extraneous fluff.
  • There’s no prep (or clean-up).  There are days where mustering up time for more than pressing “print” just isn’t possible.
  • It’s clarifies goals.  I try to bring up our goals with my students when/if appropriate, but when it comes to games and even some apps, my kiddos don’t know what we’re working on.  While getting work done without realizing it has benefits, many elementary students will need to fully understand their goals if you’re to have any hope of carry-over.

Like anything else you can overuse them or choose them poorly, but I don’t see these disappearing from my bag anytime soon.

How about you?  Hate ‘em or love ‘em?


This Post Has 7 Comments

  1. The SLT Scrapbook

    I completely agree with you! I like using worksheets and so do my students!
    They’re helpful too when you’re asked to provide evidence of work they’ve been doing in all their lessons- including Speech Therapy!!
    I think worksheets are good for getting kids to work independently too, to check if they’re “getting it”.
    I used to have one student who would only do worksheets in speech, because he wanted it to be like any other lesson- and that was the only way he’d access it.
    I think if it’s a mix of all elements, what best suits the child. That’s the main thing!

    1. admin

      Absolutely! Thanks so much for the fabulous feedback! Kim

  2. Brynn

    I agree, Kim, there are many advantages to worksheets. I have (gasp) ripped apart some workbooks so I could insert the pages into plastic page protectors and make reusable wipe-off worksheets. My students seem to think a worksheet is even more fun when they get to use dry-erase markers and a special eraser. Yes, worksheets are just one tool in the toolbox that would get BORING with overuse. I’m still keeping them around, though. I especially like a series I use for morphology and syntax with my language students. The visual support worksheets provide is helpful for little ones trying to understand the difference between verb tenses, for example. And they can give a very concrete beginning and ending to a task, which is helpful for keeping distractible or harder to motivate students engaged– as in, “Look, we only have to do these 25 boxes, then we’re done!”

    1. admin

      Thanks for the comments Brynn! You may want to also consider “Glow Coloring.” Just take a photo of the worksheet, upload it to the app and you can work in NEON! Kim

      1. Brynn

        Sounds fun! Will have to try it! Thanks.

  3. Felice Clark

    I think some people just hear the word “worksheet” and freak out! I am sure if we called them paper and pencil activities, people would just calm down. There are lots of worksheets that are super interactive and fun! I often use worksheets that are more “drill and kill” as a warm up and transition into something else after that. Great post!

    1. admin

      Thanks, Felice! Wonderful points! Kim

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The views expressed in this blog are my own and are intended to inspire other speech-language pathologists in their own practice. If you are a parent, teacher or other educator, these ideas are not intended to take the place of treatment by a certified clinician. Read full disclaimer here.