Some schools do not believe in using workbooks or worksheets in pre-kindergarten and kindergarten. They believe that children learn better through hands on activities and by using manipulatives to count. On the other hand, there are many schools that use worksheets and workbooks in the primary grades.
I have been a teacher for over 20 years and I have used both methods. I do believe that there needs to be a balance. I do believe that children learn better by using hands on activities and manipulatives. I can also say that using workbooks cannot hurt the learning process at all. In fact, it can enhance it. I believe that worksheets and workbooks are good when used as reinforcement. This can be given for homework or right after a lesson is taught.
I teach Kindergarten and the class has two workbooks for Math. I hardly teach directly from the book. I always like to introduce the concept using blocks or cubes. This week the class was learning how to group numbers three, four, and five. You cannot just tell them to open up the book to a certain page number and draw groups of three, four and five. We practiced making groups with the cubes and blocks. Then afterwards, we went to the workbook and the class drew pictures in groups of three, four, and five.
The class also has a reading and a phonics book. We cover one letter a week. I read a story and we go over certain skills. We do sight words on index cards and recently they just started to read short sentences. In their workbooks, they have to circle pictures that start with the letter that we are working on. I believe that this helps the students to learn more words that begin with a particular letter. They also identify sight words in the workbooks.
That is what I mean when I say that workbooks cannot hurt the learning process, but only improve skills. So, I do think that both ways are essential to learning. Children learn very well by doing and making things. I have no doubts about that at all. They can also learn a lot more through using worksheets and workbooks.