Are Workbooks Okay?

There are lots of workbooks out there for young children. Before buying a workbook, here are the pros and cons you should consider:


1.       You cover concepts in a systematic and progressive manner.

2.       You feel confident that your child is covering the concepts that they need to know for their age or level.

3.       The lessons are outlined for you so you don’t have to prepare much.

4.       It’s easy to take along with you.

5.       Most of the time, answer keys are provided.

6.       Assessments are built-in to give you an idea of whether your child is learning the concepts or not.


1.        The presentation of concepts is usually pictographic which only appeals to the visual learner.

2.        Many local textbooks are not in full color and have little visual appeal.

3.       Concepts may not always be presented clearly or in a manner that really makes your child learn.

4.       Your young child may be ready to learn a concept but not ready to write.

5.       Most workbooks assume that written assessments are the best way to gauge a child’s learning.

6.       Workbooks are traditionally designed for the classroom setting (even if some have been adapted for the homeschool setting).

7.       The repetition that many workbooks call for can become tiresome and de-motivating to your child.

What you can do:

Even if workbooks have their cons, I find them to be useful for knowing what concepts to teach and when. But, because they can seem rigid, I provide modified and supplemental activities to keep the topics interesting. For example, my two year old, Titus, is showing interest in learning. However, he is too young to really write. I use the book, Total Skills for Preschool (which is often available at Book Sale for just P299) because it gives me a good overview of how the concepts should progress and it is in color. I don’t expect him to be able to write in it very well. He gets extra help from his older brothers, but it gives him a feeling of being included.

Well, today as we were covering the concept of “tall and short” there were very few pages that explained it. So, after showing him the concept on paper, I had him play with rods.  Since he is also my wiggly one, he does better with hands-on learning. And he will definitely need the concept to be reinforced in everyday situations. This means I will have to point out specific examples of tall and short in our house, environment, or people that he knows as often as I can remember to.

Using workbooks alone provides does not always guarantee that your child will actually retain information for the long term. When teaching young children, you can be much more effective by showing them and letting them experience the lesson or topic. Let them do things like sort their clothes, match pairs of socks, count steps, form letters with their body parts, etc. The point is to make workbooks work in your favor but not tie you or your child down because of their very structured approach.

Some children, however, will do very well with workbooks. In fact, they may prefer workbooks. My second son, Edan, who is a very structured and regimented kind of person can go through pages of workbooks and remember what he learns. I bought him lots of different and fun writing instruments because he enjoys writing and drawing. He doesn’t have to use a pencil when he does his workbooks, he can use colored pencils, crayons, pens, markers, or whatever he fancies.

At the end of the day, every child is different. You need to find out what appeals to your child and what makes them excited to learn and what helps them to learn.

3 thoughts on “Are Workbooks Okay?

  1. Hi Ms. Joy:

    I have been tracking back your old posts here in your blog. This one is really helpful. I struggled a lot in reviewing my daughter for her exam (she is in grade 2). sometimes i really wonder why she’s having a hard time retaining what we have reviewed. Looking forward for more tips in the future. God bless.:)

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