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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.
Who's Fault? _ Is it his fault that he lacks confidence with word problems? Not entirely. Our actions, as educators, seem to imply a belief that solving word problems should come more naturally than simpler operations like arithmetic and algebra. Many parents and teachers feel justified in encouraging (i.e. forcing) a child to work hundreds or thousands of math worksheets, drill multiplication tables, long division... but few encourage solving hundreds of story problems. One suspects that the relative ease of creating and checking ordinary math worksheets keeps the focus of math education on simple, atomic operations at the expense of more holistic story problems.
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