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.
The same is true for mastery of working with fractions. _ So, in general, kids who don't learn their multiplication tables and arithmetic with fractions usually don't do well in math. It's been proven that success in science depends to a great extent on success in math. So, these same kids usually don't do well with science, either. In other words, they're locked out of most of the growth that our economy is going to experience in the future. According to the federal government, eight out of ten jobs in the next twenty years are going to be computer related. If you want your child to have access to the major portion of jobs in the future, your child must master math. It's that simple. The Solution...or at least part of it _ Teachers are actually doing their best to educate children. The problems with education aren't so much on the level of teachers as with the institution as a whole. It's kind of like the state of communications in our country before the deregulation of the telephone companies. Before deregulation, one and only one advancement__the touch tone phone. After deregulation, well you have cell phones, the Internet, instant messaging, you name it! _ What dedicated teachers and parents need to do is to supplement public school instruction with strategies that work, that have always worked, to get kids to really master the fundamental skills of elementary math.