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Question For Those Who Use few/No Workbooks


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Since I want to ditch test prep/workbooks/busywork next year, this post is geared toward those who use few or no workbooks in their homeschool.  For those of you who use no workbooks, have you found there is anything in the typical standardized test (SAT, ACT, IOWA) that would have made those workbooks useful?  I ask because the Critical Thinking Company markets their books as helping to increase test scores, so I wonder if there is any actual evidence to back this up.  For those who use few workbooks/use workbooks very sparsely, what have you opted to use and why?  Do you feel that your small selection of workbooks helps at standardized test time? 

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My kids have never used any workbooks, except for grammar drills in their foreign language studies.

DD did very well on SAT, ACT and multiple SAT 2 subject test and is a National Merit Scholar; the lack of workbooks apparently did not have any impact on her test scores.

 

I am puzzled why workbooks specifically should be necessary for test performance. First and foremost, a thorough subject mastery is required, which can be acquired through other means. In math, for example, our textbook contains problems which the student can copy into a notebook and solve there. (Back when I went to school, workbooks and photocopied worksheets did not exist.. somehow we were educated very well without.)

 

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I know someone whose dc is getting an almost perfect SAT score with no, absolutely no workbooks.  The dc reads extremely widely and has a very engaged math experience.  I have no clue how my dd will do.  We'll do some test run throughs next year.  I think it's good to have experience with the format of the test so you know how the questions work and what to expect, yes.  That will let you know what you might want to do further.

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Both of my kids used the Critical Thinking Skills books for this year and we all thought they were a joke; they taught nothing at all and we abandoned them.  For my daughter, we tried Critical Thinking I (we nearly died from boredom), Inference Jones (rather easy and didn't offer much in returns), and a spelling workbook (that did not improve daughter's spelling), and we ditched them all over the course of the year because they offered little of value.  So I was thinking these books aren't necessary, but they seem to get rave reviews, even on here, but we just got nothing out of them.  I think we are workbook dropouts, but I am afraid my kids will be missing something that I am not noticing that these books offer.  Do any of you use workbooks for grammar sentences, paragraph editing, or other more targeted work (not just test prep)?   

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We did our first standardized type test last year for third grade. We have mostly used workbooks just for fun or little extras and aren't using any right now except for part of math curricula.

 

Yes, the thing my kids had little practice with that turned out to be crazy hard was all those multiple choice find the error questions. We've done real editing and revision mostly through copywork, but this was just five straight pages of reading wrong sentences. It even made my head spin. They started out so-so, getting some, and ended getting them all wrong. I think that's a wrong way to teach grammar and writing - with negative instead of positive examples as the dominant thing - so I don't regret not doing it, but it was something we had "missed" by doing copywork, dictation, and free writing.

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The only thing we really use workbooks for is Spanish. They provide practice for my writing adverse son. He LOVED Balance Benders when he was younger and greatly likes puzzle workbooks, but they aren't school.

 

When the content starts veering into workbook structure it often feels to me like reading a magazine. Content is only very brief and skims the surface. Why not actually learn something? Our grammar hit there this year. Very little new content, lots of repeated practice. Ds has openly asked to drop it next year.

 

I think the standardized test prep comes in from the standpoint of formatting. Critical Thinking Company formats their workbooks for the latest educational buzz. All the detective books (fallacy detective, science detective, world history detective) all came out when text based evidence was a major thing. They all focus on direct text citation of answers. This is what many standardized tests look for. It doesn't mean your kids cannot learn it elsewhere. It is just the magazine, quick and dirty, skim the surface approach. Many parents want that because it is easy. You hand them the workbook, they do it, you feel better. No worries. No fuss.

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