With younger children it is worth repeating the problem and then asking them to put the question in their own words.
Older children might use a highlighter pen to mark and emphasise the most useful parts of the problem.
But it is worth getting them into the habit of looking back over what they have done. First of all it is good practice for them to check their working and make sure that they have not made any errors.
Second, it is vital to make sure that the answer they obtained is in fact the answer to the problem and not to the problem that they thought was being asked.
This exploratory phase will also help them to understand the problem better and may make them aware of some piece of information that they had neglected after the first reading.
Having explored the problem and decided on a plan of attack, the third problem-solving step, solve the problem, can be taken.
But Problem Solving also contributes to mathematics itself.
It is part of one whole area of the subject that, until fairly recently, has largely passed unnoticed in schools around the world. The skills are things that we are all familiar with.
When you think about it, the whole aim of education is to equip children to solve problems.
In the Mathematics Curriculum therefore, Problem Solving contributes to the generic skill of problem solving in the New Zealand Curriculum Framework.