The problem with story problems

I was trying to think today why it is that so many kids feel that word problems or story problems are difficult.

It didn't make sense to me initially. See,
  • Most kids just love stories.
  • Usually kids love words, too, based on the fact they use them a lot.
  • And problems - I can't imagine that kids don't like word problems just because they need find an answer to something. Most of us even adults get fascinated by puzzles, for example.

So what is the problem with word problems?

It surely can't start on 1st grade. You know, someone tells you a story problem such as: There are five ducks on the lake and three on the shore. How many ducks are there total? And often the math book has a nice picture there to accompany it. Surely kids don't think that as being difficult.

My child has gotten to like "subtraction stories" pretty well - just simple situations where someones or some things go away. She has even made up some herself.

Could it be that they don't understand the language? Or, that they are hurried to solve them too quickly?

Please send in your thoughts on this. Also, what is the advice you most often hear on word problems?

Lastly, explore this list of problem solving and word problem resources online.

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