Notebooks Vs. Workbooks: Which Is Really Better?

It can be easy to give in to. Especially if you’re feeling tired, rushed, uninspired, or plain unorganized. Workbooks. Even as a Principle Approach® mom, I’ve done it. And each time I handed a worksheet to one of my children, I cringed inside. That prepared worksheet was adding very little to our child’s learning. At least in the direction I know that I desire for our children.

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On the surface, they may not seem much different from each other. Both are sheets of paper that our children write or mark upon. Either may be placed in a 3-ring binder. By the end of our “schooling hours” we can check off that they have accomplished learning and we can move on to other matters in our day.

Or is there more to it than that? Which is really better? Which way really unlocks true learning?

Consider the design of a workbook page. Often times there are colored graphics on the pages; these may range from a few to several. There are fill-in-the-blanks to the exercises. That’s pretty much what our children get.

Now, when we consider notebook pages, we see the richness of what our children receive. Notebook pages are a gift. What is the difference? Our children learn how to learn. They learn how to love to learn. They learn how to ask questions and to research. They are given valuable resources from which to do their research; especially and mainly the Bible. They’re given room for original thought and are guided in how to journal their original thoughts in an organized manner. And the greatest gift out of all of these… is that they learn to reason and relate from Scripture.

It’s a learning process. Not only is it enjoyable to walk our children through this approach to learning… it may be somewhat humorous at times.

Our daughter, Dreamer is in the third grade at this time. Below is a portion of her book report for On The Banks of Plum Creek. This was her first attempt to go solo with applying the 4R Method (Research, Reason, Relate, and Record). With her permission, I’m sharing the following portion from her rough draft:

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“Another word for smart is affliction…”

Oh how this had Cool Daddy and me in stitches! To her credit, Dreamer paid close attention to Webster’s 1828 Dictionary definitions. Truly, in our day and age, many of us misuse the word smart. Below are the entries for this word in Webster’s 1828 Dictionary:

SM’ART, noun [This word is probably formed on the root of Latin amarus, bitter, that is, sharp.]

1. Quick, pungent, lively pain; a pricking local pain, as the pain from puncture by nettles; as the smart of bodily punishment.

2. Severe pungent pain of mind; pungent grief; as the smart of affliction.

SM’ART, verb intransitive

1. To feel a lively pungent pain, particularly a pungent local pain from some piercing or irritating application. Thus Cayeene pepper applied to the tongue makes it smart

2. To feel a pungent pain of mind; to feel sharp pain; as, to smart under sufferings.

3. To be punished; to bear penalties or the evil consequences of any thing. He that is surety for a stranger shall smart for it. Proverbs 11:15.

SM’ART, adjective

1. Pungent; pricking; causing a keen local pain; as a smart lash or stroke; a smart quality or taste.

2. Keen; severe; poignant; as smart pain or sufferings.

3. Quick; vigorous; sharp; severe; as a smart skirmish.

4. Brisk; fresh; as a smart breeze.

5. Acute and pertinent; witty; as a smart reply; a smart saying.

6. Brisk; vivacious; as a smart rhetorician. Who, for the poor renown of being smart would leave a sting within a brother’s heart?

SM’ART, noun A cant word for a fellow that affects briskness and vivacity.

You can see where she tried to tie in the current use of smart found in the modern context use of the word. She was doing her own thinking and was working through the processes of reasoning and relating. I have to say, I had no idea that the words intelligence or wisdom are not one of the definitions. See there, I learned something, too!

All this to say, when I sat down with our daughter to go over her rough draft, I was able to guide her and encourage her in the learning process. We shared laughter as we talked about the definition of smart and how people misuse it… how they try to redefine it by its modern day use. So, the word wise is in place of the word smart. In addition to that, I encouraged her to go to the Word of God to dig for a corresponding Bible principle regarding being wise. As she does this, the Word of God is written on her heart.

True learning was taking place. How could I ever allow myself again to rob any of my children of this?…

Do you have a similar experience? Share with us in the comments below.



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