Grade 2 math subtraction worksheets

Several months ago, as i was beginning to write materials for parents to use while helping their children with math, I decided that i should do some research to see if materials similar to mine already existed. I checked a local educational store which is primarily for home-schooling parents and I checked out the new educational section Barnes and Noble had just added to their stores. I was shocked at what I found. Worksheets, worksheets, and 2nd Grade Math Subtraction Worksheets more worksheets. I would pick up a book with a lovely cover and catchy title, but inside–just worksheets! Both stores had row after row of very enticing books and workbooks each containing page after page of worksheets. So very disappointing! What do i have against worksheets? Keep reading.

I think that everyone agrees that students today are weak in their basic arithmetic skills. Many adults are equally weak with basic skills but you probably will never hear them admit it. If you were to investigate this weakening of basic skills, most sources would point to the advent of the calculator; and there is some truth to that. But the beginning of the decline in basic skills actually goes further back–to the widespread use of copy machines. Yes, copy machines.

Back in the old days, addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division skills were practiced by writing the facts out by hand–maybe 10-20 times each–the entire fact. You are wondering why this was better than writing answers on a worksheet, aren’t you? You will experience the difference yourself if you do this little experiment. Get out a piece of paper and write the entire fact 6 x 8 = 48 and at the same time, say the entire fact out loud as you write it. Say “six times eight is forty-eight. ” as you write 6 x 8 = 48. Now do this ten times. Go ahead, I’ll wait…

I have said “Don’t Use Worksheets” about every way there is to say it, and each time I have included solid brain-based, researched reasons for this statement; and yet, 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 won’t happen. There will still be some parents who will insist on using worksheets.

Know what you are buying. If you can’t see it (there is no sample shown), then do not buy it. There are many people out there trying to make a buck off the current popularity of worksheets. Many, if not most, of these people know nothing about mathematics, teaching, or how the brain learns. Anyone can type columns of addition, subtraction, multiplication, etc. problems; but these worksheets will be bad for your child. Don’t trust what you can’t see.

Know the author’s background. This person needs to have a background in education and, ideally, should be trained in the latest educational methods, like brain-based teaching/learning. I personally would never use any materials with my child that didn’t specifically mention being “brain-based. ” I am not talking about just “research-based. ” I see more and more sites claiming to have research-based materials, but what I find is definitely NOT based on how the brains actually learns. Brain-based learning is relatively new in the educational world, but most worksheet sites and materials are using old science or, more often, no science at all.

If the materials do not specifically indicate “brain-based, ” determine if they are at least “brain-friendly. ” This would mean that you are looking for lots of color, material interesting to the child, many varied activities-especially involving movement, and using several of the senses. I saw one company whose worksheets included the instruction to “say the number out loud as you… ” This is very good! Speaking out loud is very important for learning to occur. Ideally, all worksheets should include this instruction. If you can’t find any that do, then you need to add that instruction yourself.

These are the worksheets just made up of columns of problems. There are better materials out there, so don’t 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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