Aggghhhhhhh! I just talked with my brother and he asked me if it is appropriate for my three and a half year old niece to be doing worksheets at day care. They are not limited to coloring in the lines, writing letters, cut and paste and tracing) AGHHHHHHHHH!!!! I was so shocked I didn't know where to even begin other than ABSOLUTELY NOT!! What is even worse is that she recieved a "sad face" on a worksheet for not completing it properly. The whole thing that sparked the question in the first place was a note that was sent home explaining that "she needs to work on coloring inside the lines". She also recieves homework papers every night (my brother and sister in law do not make her do the worksheets).The teacher has also mentioned that "she doesn't like to do these worksheets when the other kids are doing them". What a horrible thing to say! However the frown face tops the cake for me. Don't get me wrong, they do like her teacher, my niece is very happy and content at school with her teacher and peers however this is an issue my brother and sister-in-law want to address.
So I suggested they schedule a confrence with the director and teacher right away, in addition to documenting and saving anything that is said or sent home that they feel is inappropriate. I am going to gather some information on learning styles and alternatives to worksheets so they have a better idea of what is developmentally appropriate for my niece in her early childhood years.
If you have ANY ideas, tidbits, information, tips, websites ANYTHING at all that will help support why worksheets are not an appropriate learning tool at this age I would greatly appreciate it.
"the risk of early instruction in beginning reading skills is that the amount of drill and practice required for success at an early age seems to undermine children's disposition to be readers. It is clearly not useful for a child to learn skills if, in the process of acquiring them, the disposition to use them is lost. Especially in the case of reading, comprehension is most likely to be dependent on actual reading and not just on skill-based reading instruction. On the other hand, acquiring the disposition to be a reader without the requisite skills is also not desirable. Results from longitudinal studies suggest that curricula and teaching should be designed to optimize the simultaneous acquisition of knowledge and skills and desirable dispositions and feelings."
I totally agree with you
that this unacceptable at three. Worksheets and sad faces! I might be biased because I work with an ECSE teacher who thinks an approriate goal for a three year old with developmental delays, should be that _____ will increase his ability to sit in a group setting from 10-15 minutes.
This day care is obviously not following DAP in their curriculum. I am surprised that your niece is still happy with school and her teacher. I am afraid that this may change. To be undermining a three year old's success at anything will only damper her spirit. She will soon learn to dislike school and all it stands for. My suggestion would be for your brother to find a more developmentally appropriate day care for your niece.
Your are correct! As an occupational therapist who works in a school district I can tell you that coloring in the lines and other typical worksheet type activities are not even close to being developmentally correct. The test of Visual Motor Integration (VMI), which is a well respected standardized test, established the ability to imitate a horizontal, vertical and circular stroke for a 3 yr. old with the ability to copy those same strokes as they approach 4 yrs. to be within norms. I have seen far too many children who have been given a writing tool too early in life develop poor pencil grips that they never move beyond. Simply because they were given this task to do before the hand had an opportunity to develop all it's arches. There are many, many activities which will promote prewriting skills that don't involve worksheets. And you can forget coloring in the lines! Better yet, give them an elevated writing surfaces (an eisel, paper taped to the wall, a chalk board, a large three ring binder turned on it's side, etc) broken crayons, or chalk, and let them go. The elevatd surface encourages wrist stabalization and correct positioning, the small writing tools encourage a tripod grip, and the blank paper stimulates the imagination. I could go on and on, but a couple of websites that may be helpful are www.ehandprints.com or do a search for Jan Olsen's Handwriting Without Tears. Both of these discuss developmentally appropriate activities. Another suggestion would be for the preschool to find a pediatric OT with experience in this are to do an inservice for them. I have done them in my home town for preschools and and it helps them meet their required training hours.
To me this sounds like this daycare is trying to push a full blown eduaction on a child that should be learning simple subjects and in a fun and relaxed way. There is no way that my child would attend a daycare that required them to do worksheets at home, this to me is considered homework which in many shools children aren't given much homework even in Kindergarten. I am not the type that would go around proclaming that I know everthing and I would never try to hurt a facilities reputation but this does not sound like a good situation to me. My mother is the director of an on school childcare and at their facility worksheets are fun for the kids and never required so much to limit that a child would ever get a frown on thier paper. I would definately schedule a meeting with the director and the teacher. Point out that if a child is pushed to learn and be perfect at this young of an age then how will they feel about thier education when they are old enough to speak up for themself. If the meeting does not go well then I would suggest moving to another childcare, and before enrolling the child in that facility make sure to discuss what is required of the children.
Work sheets are really okay, as long as the class does only one side per day and it MUST be for the correct age,you should not have only work sheets, they are to be used to help children get prepared for kindergarten. They really DO help and the children actually get excited about doing them. The more advanced children actually enjoy helping the "not-so-advanced" children.
That really sounds like a stressful situation for the child. I have 3-5 year olds, and I also use worksheets, BUT, the older children follow the directions and focus on the task. The 3 year olds just scribble a line over the middle of the worksheet, and draw on the back, and that is fine! My focus for the 3 year olds, is just to sit with the group and pick up a writing utensil, even for a second. Obviously, the worksheets are far more focused on the older children. I find it very disturbing that a teacher would ever put a sad face on a paper. Even if my student colors on dot on the paper, they will still receive a "great job", just for the effort of sitting and participating. Positive reinforcement is a very important thing!!