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How to Help Your Child with Math Word Problems?

by Sep 17, 2016Mathematics

I admit, maths word problems can be really scary for the children, if they are not interested in maths at all! Maths is one of the most dreaded subjects and the word problems are an added burden.
However, as a parent or as a teacher, it is our responsibility to help the children, so that they overcome their fear and understand the fun behind maths by using “6 Easy Steps to motivate yourself to complete your Homework Regularly.”
The problem with maths word problems:
Children often find it easy to solve the numerical problems that can be solved as soon as you put them into formula. All that they have to do is remember the formula and solve the sum.
But, with word problems, this is not the case. A student will have to understand the problem and figure out the formula that is required to solve the sum. Once this step is done, the rest will be easy.
Identifying the problems:
Before a child starts solving a maths word sums, it is a must that the problem areas are identified. This will help a teacher or a parent to help a child solve them.

  1. The operation that is needed is hidden in words.
  2. Too many information are present and when they should be used, can be confusing.
  3. Children tend to think from the “real life maths problems” that seriously all real life problems are about fencing, travelling by train or filling water in a tank.

The following part of the article will focus on these three basic problems and I will try and help you to come up with ideas so that your child gets rid of his or her fear of maths word problems.
Here are a few tips and ideas that will help a child to identify a formula and how a problem can be solved!

  • Look for keywords:

As already mentioned, the problem with these word sums is that the operation that is needed is hidden in words. But, there are certain keywords that are always used in a word problem in some way or the other and these help in identifying what needs to be done with the data or information provided.
With my years of experience in teaching profession, I have come across some of these keywords that are very frequently used. Have a look at them.

  • Addition: combined, added to, more than, together, increased by, total, sum, plus
  • Subtraction: difference of, take away, minus, decreased by, less than, fewer than
  • Division: per, out of, ratio of, divided by
  • Multiplication: times, multiplied by, increased by a factor of, product of, into
  • Equals: is, are, will be, and gives.

In most cases, one of these keywords is used. Help your child to identify them. This will help him or her to proceed towards the right operation.

  • Do it practically:

The best help that a parent or a teacher can provide to a child is to make maths a part of real life. If possible, choose a similar problem and have it explained to your child practically.
In fact, you can start with easy and simple real life situations like what you shopped today in a supermarket, or while playing in the park. Pick a situation and let your child understand that maths is really helpful and a part of real life.
As a teacher and also as a parent, I always try making short word sums with different keywords and ask my son to match the right index card with all four signs with those sums.

  • Creating a plan of solution:

While solving a word sum, it is a must that a student –

  • Starts with reading the problem aloud
  • Create a diagram of all the information and data that is given
  • Separate the relevant and irrelevant information
  • Identify the operation through keywords, or by reading the sum time and again
  • Solve it!

This is an amazing way to help your child create a plan that will solve a mathematical word sum.

  • Practice makes you perfect:

All the above mentioned tips might be of no use, if a child doesn’t practice different sums. Maths is a subject that can be understood well or be enjoyed, only if it is practiced. For that you can devise new sums on your own, or follow reference books.
What is really helpful for a child is to go through the worked out sums that are done in a text book. The more your child tries out these sums, the more they will lose their fear of word sums.

  • Take professional help:

I like to talk in a straightforward manner. So, I will say, if you cannot manage to teach your child the right way of solving word sums of maths, you need to take professional help. There are tutors or online academic help services. They know exactly how to explain a problem or how to teach a child the right way of learning. They are affordable and very helpful for a complete learning or thorough understanding. Taking their help from a young and tender age is a good idea.
Maths problems and solutions in a nutshell:
Step 1:
Ask your child to read the problem time and again. The more they read, the better they will understand the problem. It needs to be understood that reading does NOT waste time. There is a strong misconception that reading sums time and again will waste time. But it is absolutely unlike that.
Step 2:
Understand what information has been given. Find the keywords and try to figure out, which are the necessary data and which aren’t.
Step 3:
Now it is time to convert the word problem into a mathematical equation. Once the child is skilled, he will be able to do this in mind.
Step 4:
Finally comes the easiest part, i.e. generating the results.
As a parent or a teacher, it is our responsibility that we do everything possible to make a subject interesting to the children. And when it is something as important as maths, the fear must be got ridden of.