Published at Sunday, 03 November 2019. Subtraction Worksheets. By Laurel Guyot.
I know that many people will ignore the science in favor of the convenience. It is very difficult to fight the tide when there are so many internet sites pushing worksheets at parents, and so many reputable textbook companies doing likewise. It is difficult to remember the reasons to avoid them when one has very little time to devote to working with math. Worksheets just seem so much easier than doing things any other way. Can they really cause harm? The answer, of course, is YES they can. In my perfect world of mathematics education, no pre-school child is ever exposed to a worksheet of any kind. I would swing my magic wand, all worksheets would disappear, and the memory of them would be gone forever. In the real world, I know that simply will not happen. There will still be some parents who will insist on using worksheets.
In all stages above, it is imperative to do oral and mental math. Without this skill, your child will be forever stuck with a pencil and paper. And the more work done on paper with a pencil, the more there is a chance for an error. And, your child will be stuck following steps instead of "just doing math." Doing oral and mental math makes a person very comfortable with math. Many adults have math phobia, due in no small part to not being able to do mental math. How to do it? While driving, cooking, shopping, sightseeing, almost any situation, you can drill your child on math. If a box costs $2, how much does 2 cost? How many horses do you see? Count the blue cars. Are their more boys than girls? Anything! Be creative. You can even get them to recite the times tables. This will also set the stage for an important skill they must master. Word problems! How many times have you heard people say they cannot do word problems? The oral problems you make up are just another form of word problems. If your child is used to doing math, without a problem written on paper, your child will not fear word problems. If you adamantly do the above, there is one last step. Sometimes it is out of your control, but do your best! Put your child in a class where there is an effective algebra teacher, and all math classes beyond sixth grade. You may find this hard, but the only one fighting for your child is you!
NEVER use "skill and drill" worksheets. These are the worksheets just made up of columns of problems. There are better materials out there, so do not resort to skill and drill. The very worst problem of skill and drill worksheets is the greatly increased chance of a practiced mistake. The same problem will likely appear several times on the same sheet. A wrong answer once means a wrong answer several times; and a practiced mistake takes hundreds of correct repetitions to fix. This danger alone is important enough to never use any worksheet. I am quite serious about how difficult it is to repair a practiced mistake. Learning is hard enough. Re-learning is much more difficult.
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