Students are increasingly being challenged with word-based math problems. Focusing on teaching math with word problems, allows teachers to take the concepts learned in class and apply them to everyday life. It also helps strengthen students’ analytical thinking skills and ability to problem solve.
However, the transition to learning math and doing homework can be challenging for students. Here are some strategies for students and parents to overcome anxiety and succeed with math word problems.
Show How Math Relates to the Real World: Show your children how important addition, subtraction, multiplication and division is to every day life. Next time you go grocery shopping, add up the items before the register. If you are going to the bank, learn about financial literacy and count your savings or withdrawals. Cooking or baking is a great time to learn about measurement. Any driving trip can be a lesson in distance, time and counting.
Understand Key Math Terms: Before starting problem solving it is important for any student to have a strong grasp of of key words that can show up in problems like i) greater than / less than, ii) factor of (division), iii) AND versus OR, etc.
Make a Plan: With any math word problem, have your child read over the problem several times and ensure they understand the question and what is being asked. There are strategies to get comfort with the problem, depending on your learning style. For visual learners, draw a diagram or picture of the question. For auditory learners, talk the question out loud into parts. Next define the focus of the question and what is needed. Also identify which information is irrelevant and can be ignored. Finally, look for any patterns. Once your child has a good grasp of the problem, have them work through it in a logical manner and reflect on how they got to the answer.
Check Your Work: Nobody is perfect, so going back and checking your numbers and logic is a great habit to keep.
Practice Makes Perfect: Once your child has a good grasp and strategy to answer math word problems – practice, practice, practice.