Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Are Workbooks and Flashcards Evil?

P1000289Is it just me, or does there seem to be a preponderance of evidence being published these days that workbooks and flashcards for preschoolers are evil bad for long-term development, and that preschoolers should learn solely by self-initiated play, and that we should back off on academic endeavors (whatever those are) until they reach the magic age?  Which may be 5, or 6 or 7, or 8, depending on the study?

I’m just hanging in there, waiting for the pendulum to slip back the other way…  After the kids take over the world and mandate free gaming devices for all babies 2 and older.  And make it illegal to turn off the TV or change the channel from the children’s station.  And bring about the demise of all toys not associated with a major motion picture.  And for some reason all look like Mr. Potato Head.

As a kid, I devoured workbooks.  Something about getting all those answers right on page after page after page?  So I’ve been stashing up workbooks for my own girl, of course.

Of course, Esmé is completely different.  Worksheets, when I sneak them in, are a way for her to express her individuality.  I can picture having a conversation with her one day about how intelligent she must be in order to get every single answer on her SATs wrong.

Today’s trick:  The instructions were to count the number of gray rectangles and circle the correct number.  So she colored in an extra gray rectangle to come up with an Esmé answer.  Which was of course right.  Just not according to the teacher’s manual.

Which is not what this post is about.

It’s about what YOU think.

Do workbooks and flashcards play a role in your preschooler’s life?  Why, or why not?

If you DO use them, does your preschooler enjoy them, or do you use manipulative tactics?

More of my own thoughts (which are still being shaped) on the subject coming up…  Next week.


BaronessBlack said...

Sigh! Grandma bought pack after pack of these, all to no avail. My kids either coloured in the workbooks or made buildings with the flash cards.
The games that they thought up to play with them were always more fun than us pointing out their correct uses!

Annette W. said...

I don't think learning should be self guided...after a certain point anyway. I understand that for toddlers and preschoolers much learning is through play...but flashcards are very valuable, too. As are workbooks!

Balance, for us, works. My daughter has always loved these tools for learning. I don't know if my son will. But they will still be a tool.

Great post!

ShEiLa said...

I don't have any pre-schoolers these days... but I don't think work books and flash cards hurt kids at all with learning.

I am intrigued by the Early Language Development program as shown on TV teaching a baby to read... now that is interesting. Has anyone tried that????


Vickie said...

My preschoolers love workbooks and flashcards. It is later that the intrigue of these seem to fade. Then we press on with something else like....eeeegads, textbooks :)

Loved the photo of your daughter concentrating so hard to write.

God's Blessings

lfhpueblo said...

I'd say she's smart. She just learned about cause and effect by coloring in an extra rectangle gray. She learned by causing something to change the way she wanted it to be that she could effect the answer to be something different than a predetermined workbook answer would have been.
Cause and effect, good learn for such a young one.

elm said...

Workbooks... sometimes moms need a little bit of busy work for the kids to do. SO, yes workbooks for our family. Now, my girls have LOVED their workbooks at preschool age and to some degree as they get bigger, too.

Flashcards... not for preschoolers and me as far as how they are intended. We have several boxes of letter and small word flashcards that my preschool aged children played with and sorted to find similarities.

I don't think that they are BAD for preschoolers - either one. I don't think that they are GOOD for preschoolers, either one! I think that what is good and bad for preschoolers depends on the particular preschooler! AND trying it out one way or the other will not scar them for life. Continuing to press them to do something that doesn't fit their particular learning style will not necessarily help them to learn it better - you really have to KNOW the learner. That is one reason why we homeschool... mom and dad can really get to know the learners in our house and work at helping them to learn in their way instead of knocking our heads together to make a square peg fit in a round hole!

Just the thoughts of this mama who home educates her babes, ages 9, 7, 5 and nearly 1!!

Hippie4ever said...

I think it depends on your child, and the particular day :)
I found flash cards for $0.25 at Target and stocked up. I have been using the animal and insect cards to keep my 20 month son busy in the car for awhile, but just took the shapes and colors cards out last night and couldn't tear him away. He was sorting them, DEMANDING the name of the shape/color and altogether absorbed. At other times, however, he simply ignores the cards.

@ShEila I would be cautious of the ELD on TV, are they teaching sight reading or phonics?

Melanie said...

my mom did the workbooks with me as a kid and I loved them. I buy them in droves at the dollar store and flash cards too.

My daughter loves them and gets excited when she does them "correctly" and follows the instructions. Flash cards are an awesome memory game in my eyes