Some kids thrive using workbooks. Workbooks provide grade-level concepts in an easy to use format that includes, matching, circling, short answer questions, multiple choice activities, and dare I say it, games and critical thinking. Many homeschoolers turn their noses up at workbooks, on the premise that they are boring and don’t encourage higher level thinking skills. While this may be the case in some cases, there are some high quality options well suited for homeschool use. The idea that homeschoolers should not consider using workbooks is largely the marketing efforts of curricula publishers, large and small.
How do you know if your child learns best using workbooks?
There are a few characteristics workbook kids share:
Typically like traditional “school work” (e.g. worksheets) (it does not necessarily mean they like school)
Have been in a traditional school for a year or more and enjoy it.
If they’ve never been to traditional school, they believe that workbooks equal learning
They tell you they want to work out of workbooks, and will work diligently when given one.
Generally are good instructions follower
Typically more conformist type, but not always.
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Types of kids who should never depend on workbooks for learning:
Kids who say they don’t want to use workbooks.
Kids who are resistant, or will drag their feet when assigned a workbook.
Highly active students, or kids who must move around to focus.
Highly creative kids
This isn’t to say that if your child exhibits any of the above, they should never use workbooks. Workbooks can be a useful supplement, especially in times when additional practice in a particular concept is necessary. It simply means that workbooks aren’t usually the most effective method of education for these students. Learning does not have to be wrought with power struggles, which generally erupt when the curricula and materials are not a great fit. There are many ways to learn. It is worth taking a little time to figure out what works best for your child. Since they can be purchased at any dollar store, Target, or Barnes and Noble, it may seem like workbooks are the easiest, cheapest, and most complete method of learning, but if that is not what works for your student, they are definitely not.
Things to remember
Trust your gut: There is a ton of information on the internet, and everyone has an opinion on what is the best way to educate at home. However, you know what is best for your child. Find what works and go with it unapologetically.
Things change: Just because a workbook is a good (or bad) fit now does not mean it will remain so indefinitely. Be sure to re-evaluate your child’s learning needs as necessary.