How to Make Word Problems Less Scary

How to Make Word Problems Less Scary

Your child may be able to quickly solve math problems when using mathematical notation like 10+4 or 35-3, however they may become hesitant when trying to solve similar problems that are formatted using a words.  The same problem for 10+4 could be set as a word problem in a format similar to “Jane went to the farmer’s market and bought ten apples and four bananas.  How much fruit did she buy in all?”  It is the same problem and the same answer, but some children just freeze when asked to solve a word problem.

Here are some tips to help your reluctant problem solver to get over their fear of word problems.  Have your child underline the important parts of the sentence that will help them solve the problem.  Then, they should circle any key vocabulary needed for them to know what type of operation they should be completing.  This way they can focus on the two main elements of the problem and remove any unnecessary data.

Learning the key words to look for within the word problem is a very important element.  There are specific words like “in all” or “product of” that will be key to your child performing the right mathematical calculations for the problem.

Math Playground has a variety of math word problem games that your child can play to help them practice solving word problems.  You can assist by encouraging them to write down the important components of the sentence and identifying the key math terms to figure out the type of problem.  Practice is essential in helping your child build confidence in solving word problems.

How else have you helped your children to practice solving word problems?

Photo by Wm Chamberlain



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