Are worksheets and workbooks useful for home learning? Sure–they are a good source for skills training and practice. Just don’t totally depend on them. Use them as one of your tools; but remember that “real books” and “real activities” are better “real learning experiences” than workbooks and worksheets.
Also, keep in mind that while some children can make good use of worksheets and workbooks quite independently, other children really do need your assistance (to help them understand and put into practice the concepts and skills) and your companionship, too (for some children, workbooks are dreadfully boring and lonely items if they have to work on them alone).
Of course there are many commercially-made workbooks available. I would recommend that you check out thrift stores and used-book stores for inexpensive copies that may have just a few pages filled in (or may even be in “new” condition). Many workbooks that cost up to $15 or $20 new, are available for as little as 50 cents or $1.00. Or you can ask friends if they have ones that still have some pages not completed that they don’t want anymore.
If you are Canadian, watch especially for workbooks that have Canadian content–they are more likely to use Canadian spellings and topics (likewise, if you are from another country, look for workbooks that feature your region). Also, try to use ones with larger print and lack of clutter on the page. Small print and clutter can make it difficult for children to read the material. Also, it is not necessary to have a lot of colour–in fact, children enjoy colouring plain black-and-white workbooks after they’ve done the work.
You can flip through the workbooks to find concepts and topics you want to work on with your child–there is no need to do the pages “in order.” If you find your child really enjoys a certain exercise, you can easily make up similar questions and activities on a sheet of paper to provide more practice. If you find a particular workbook that works very well for your child, you may want to check out other workbooks in the same series, and/or by the same publisher or author, at your local bookstore.
There are also many worksheets available for free or for very low cost on the internet. You can “search” almost any topic or concept, and come up with some great lesson plans, worksheets, crafts, and activities. Just be careful–some sites have “Download” buttons that are NOT things you want to download! And some sites say “free,” but after you download half a dozen things, you have to start paying. However, if you are careful, you can get many excellent learning items online.
A site I highly recommend is teacherspageteachers.com which has a great variety of learning materials; some are free, and others are at very reasonable prices. The items have been created by experienced teachers, and most of them are very useful. People who purchase the items rate them out of 5 stars, so you can check the ratings, and nearly every item shows several pages so you can get a good idea of what they are like. I like this site to much that I have put some of my Easy to Learn booklets and other items on there too–you can check my “store” out at teacherspayteachers.com — Norma-J-Hill . I have also recently discovered teachersnotebook.com, which I also recommend. Another great source of ideas is “Facebook” groups, especially homeschool groups, where you can ask questions of other parents and get lots of great ideas for workbooks–and lots of other great learning materials–on all kinds of educational topics.
Looking for other useful tips on helping your child read and write? Check out the list of topics in the second half of our Tutoring Tips page.