Quandaries and Queries


why can't 2nd graders have  a easy time doing word problems and drawing pictures with it



Word problems are not usually very easy for young students. First, there's the reading of the problem: students are still learning to read. One of the strategies we teach young children when learning to read is to pay attention to the context of what they are reading: as they are reading, pay attention to what it is they are reading, does it make sense? In a word problem, there usually is no context, it is not part of a story, so that the the 2 or 3 sentences don't always make sense.

Also, many of the words used in math have a specific meaning and may have a different meaning in everyday usage: the word 'odd' means one thing in math and another in normal everyday usage, the word 'left' can mean 2 different things. Students also haven't quite learned the key words such as 'altogether' to mean adding, 'how many are left?' for subtracting, etc., so they are often unsure of what operation they are to do.

Young children are still learning about punctuation. They don't always recognize what the question is or what 'a' question is.

Then, children are expected to translate what they read into some kind of number sentence and then figure out the answer.

Whew! That's a lot of work. So the main 'problem' with word problems is to get the kids to understand the problem before they can even attempt to solve it.



Go to Math Central