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.
Engagement entails much more than rote repetition of a procedure. Math worksheets tend to present very similar problem types over and over, leading to mundane practice of disassociated skills. For students who understand the material and successfully complete an assignment, another worksheet becomes meaningless. On the other hand, for the students who don't understand the material, an alternative method of instruction is what's needed. Another worksheet simply adds to the student's frustration, or worse, contributes to a belief that "I'll never understand math." A cute image or a "fill_in_the_blanks" riddle does nothing to increase engagement or learning (and let's face it, those riddles are not funny!). Instead, teachers need to increase engagement by providing students with exercises in which they discover patterns and relationships, solve problems, or think creatively about math relationships.