Have you noticed that your child’s homework contains more word math problems than ever before? Common Core Standards for Mathematic Operations & Algebraic Thinking include the ability to solve word math problems for children as young as kindergarten. So, why is there such a focus on these types of math problems? For starters, word math problems take concepts learned in class and apply them to real life. These exercises also develop children’s logical and abstract thinking skills as well as help them strengthen their problem-solving abilities.
However, math problems can be a struggle and helping kids understand them isn’t always easy. Here are some ways to help your child tackle math word problems with ease:
- Utilize math in everyday life. Your child’s math homework may have a problem that involves going to the grocery store and figuring out a total bill. Try recreating this in real life and help your child learn to use math in practical ways. You can also make a game of it and show your child that math can be fun!
- Know the keywords. Helping your child understand which words are associated with different mathematical functions can help steer him or her in the right direction to finding the final answer. For instance, “and” usually indicates an addition problem while “less than” may clue you into a subtraction problem and “product of” means you’ll need to multiply.
- Devise a problem-solving plan. Start off by having your child read the problem through several times. It can also help to ask him or her to draw out a picture or diagram of the question. List out the information that is given in the problem, determine what material is relevant or irrelevant and define what answers are needed. Then, have your child work in an organized manner to solve the problem. When he or she has reached a solution, ask your child to reflect on the problem and ensure that he or she answered the question at hand.
- Practice, practice, practice! How can your child become a better problem-solver? By solving more problems, of course! To get your child comfortable with the process of solving math word problems, you and your child can talk through how to solve the problem before he or she attempts to find the answer. There are a number of websites that offer free sample problems for your child to tackle. If he or she needs additional help, Sylvan Learning offers problem-solving tutoring to help students strategize and solve equations with confidence.
Math word problems can be tricky but by developing a process and practicing on a regular basis, your child can strengthen his or her skills.