As adults, when we see 5 + 3 = ?, we understand that this is a symbolic representation of a problem and we know the answer “8” is a symbolic representation of the solution to the problem. We do but children may not necessarily understand that. This is also one reason that contributes to many young children struggling with solving mathematical word problem questions.
In a class that I took, I got two children to act out a scenario : one child was given 3 pencils. A second child was asked to pass 5 pencils to the first child. When I asked the children to think of a possible question a third child could ask in this scenario, I drew blanks from almost all of the children in the class. But when I wrote down 3 + 5, almost all the children could very quickly shout out 8. This short little excerpt from a class I took is a good demonstration of the technical strength of many Singaporean children in applying mathematics formula. Most, by 6 years old could do complete arithmetic sums quickly and confidently. However, when they are required to analyze and develop their own questions and solutions, they are at a loss.
Hence, as parents, we could help our children by playing a simple game with them.
To read about the game, please visit my website at www.thinkingloft.com. The full article can be found under the section "articles".