Yes, Workbooks Can Be Fun

Workbooks get a bad rap in many homeschooling circles. Especially among unschoolers and more relaxed homeschoolers, the word itself tends to evoke images of a young child forced to sit at a desk filling in tiresome pages of pointless busy work. Stalk any homeschooling group long enough and you will definitely run across some form of workbook bashing.

Well, I’m here to say that is not always true. Sometimes relaxed homeschoolers {such as ourselves} actually love workbooks and find them very useful. Now I don’t simply plop random pages in front of the Agents and expect them to dutifully fill them in. Our primary mode of education remains solidly book-based with travel and hands-on activities incorporated as feasible.

However, they like being able to have something written to look at, and they have discovered several series they find quite—dare I say it—enjoyable to complete. I like them as well, because they provide just enough practice without becoming too repetitive or venturing into “drill” territory. They always choose what they do each day, and tend to incorporate their own notes, doodles, and coloring along the way. It helps with retention and suits their “visual” learning needs well. 

Agent E {4th} and Agent J {2nd} currently use some combination of the following workbooks. Of course, we don’t do all of these every day, and they are more of a supplement than a primary curriculum. But, these are the titles we keep coming back to.

These workbooks include not only math and language arts but also science and social studies for each grade level {pre-K through 6th}. They run roughly 300 pages and can be done in any order. Agent E really likes this series; she completes 2-3 pages a day {from her sections of choice} each day. 

Oh, how I wish they published these workbooks for older kids! Right now they only cover math, reading, and writing for preschool through 2nd grade. Agent J is currently using the 2nd grade reading and math ones. {She refers to them by their covers, as in, I think I’ll work on some Darth Maul math.} Star Wars just makes everything more fun!

We decided to give learning a foreign language another go this year. {We’ve tried in the past, and the idea kind of fizzled.} We started with the Grade 1 book and recently moved on to Grade 2. {Think of them more in terms of “levels” not necessarily designed specifically for 1st graders or 2nd graders.} I think it’s helping us to stay on track now that we have some written work to look at each day.

Both Agents have enjoyed these workbooks, particularly the Math Basics ones. The “deluxe” versions are 64 pages long, and provide a good overview of concepts covered at each grade level. In addition to the more general workbooks, they also have others that focus on a specific topic {e.g., fractions, money, word problems}. The Agents like that they include puzzles, codes, and color-by-number in addition to routine problems.

These are math and language arts workbooks primarily aimed at the K-2nd set. {This link shows the Princess-themed ones, but there are others.} We have been able to find most of these at the Dollar Store or the Target dollar section.

We’ve mostly used the Let’s Grow Smart series of workbooks, including addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, states, presidents, dinosaurs, and animals, among others. These are a good way to introduce fun facts about a topic as well as practice handwriting. Again, we’ve scored most of these at the Target dollar section. 

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