Why is Problem Solving Such a Focus in Math?

Why is Problem Solving such a Focus in Math?
Teaching through problem solving empowers students to be confident in their work, explore
alternatives and take mathematical risks. Problem solving requires and builds deep understanding of
concepts while engaging students, developing perseverance and providing opportunities for students to
collaborate and communicate their learning.
Students develop their own problem solving strategies by listening, discussing and trying different
strategies. If students have already been given the way to solve the problem, then it is not a problem
but merely practice. In the past, math was taught by introducing a procedure and then having students
practice the same procedure repeatedly. This limits both the application of the learning as well as the
opportunities for new learning. By teaching through problem solving students learn how to use their
current knowledge to develop creative, innovative solutions for any problem, not just the situations they
have practiced.
You can help develop your child’s problem solving by asking questions such as “How would you..?” or
“How could you …?” Doing puzzles and playing games that use logic and reasoning like Clue, Sodoku and
Blockus also provide opportunities to problem solve outside of the classroom.