The RCL Blog

Tips, Tools, Freebies, and Insights for You and Your Classroom

Why Workbooks Don’t Work

Are Workbooks Helping or Hurting Your Students?

struggling reader with a workbookWorkbooks are mass produced for the masses.  They are a one size fits all approach to mastering fundamental skills.

Workbooks teach children that reading is about reading a passage and answering questions.  Workbooks do not teach children about the many purposes of reading, how to enjoy reading or how to comprehend and read with fluency.

If one of your students is struggling to read, or struggles with comprehension, it is not because he or she is unable to be a successful reader, it is because the child has not been taught to read in a way that makes sense to them.

When you give a child a workbook expecting them to practice reading and become a better reader, you are setting them up for failure.  Workbooks don’t work because they don’t teach your students how to think and problem solve on the run. Instead workbooks provide your students with cookie cutter rote practice.  Therefore, if your students are working through a workbook using weak strategies or making the same mistakes over and over, they are only practicing making mistakes.

Your students will not become better readers if they don’t learn how to read in a way that builds comprehension, fluency and enjoyment.  They will learn to hate reading because repetitive practice is boring.   Additionally, if they practice every day with a workbook but do not become a better reader, then your students will begin to see themselves as a failure.

It is more important for children to view reading as a means to gather information or as an enjoyable activity.  If you want your students to enjoy reading and improve comprehension, you might try setting a purpose for reading.    You could also teach your students how to use specific reading comprehension strategies.  Reading comprehension strategies include the following:

When you teach young readers how to use reading comprehension strategies, you are giving them the tools necessary to fully comprehend and enjoy what they read.

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