Books _ Among the dozen or so math word_problem books of note published in the past decade, one, written by Mary Jane Sterling, from a well_known, popular brand of information books, which I'm unable to name here, stands out. The publisher has put a decent chunk of the book online at books.Google.com (go to books.google.com and search for sterling word problems). Striking Difference in Child Development _ If you are considering arranging extra math drills for your child, keep in mind that story problems are more like the real_life problems he or she will encounter, and, they help develop his or her critical_thinking skills. Children develop mental maturity like they do physical maturity. Think about the strikingly different mental development that ordinary math worksheets might foster in comparison to math word problems. Priorities _ Ordinary math worksheets certainly serve a purpose, but think carefully about the ratio of those to story problems when helping your child prioritize his or her available math study time.
I teach the upper grades in my school, yet I continue to see kids who do not even have basic algebra skills in place. As a parent, I'm very aware of what my own children are learning in school. For the most part, I've been happy with their progress, but as they rise in grade level, I'm starting to see more emphasis on a loose understanding of the concepts and less emphasis on skills__particularly skills with arithmetic of fractions. The main problem with what I see with my students and my own children is that kids are taught "concepts" and are not taught skills__unless they're lucky enough to have a teacher who knows better. Most particularly, children are not taught mastery of arithmetic with fractions. Unfortunately, virtually all of their future math education depends on being able to do fractional arithmetic.