Word problems in mathematics can be tricky because they require children to read and comprehend the text of the problem, identify what math operation to use, and then do the calculations correctly.
Here are three quick tips to guide your children solve word problems.
1 Mark up the problem
Get your children to read through the problem once. Then, have them reread it, circling the crucial words and phrases. This can help your children to stay focused and avoid rushing.
For example, "Trevor has two pencils. He buys three more pencils. How many pencils does he have in all?" The phrase "in all" is crucial, and children need to know it means adding together the two groups of pencils.
2 Cover up distractions
When there are several questions on the same page, children may get overwhelmed and rush through the problem. Get your children to focus by using a blank piece of paper to cover all the problems except the one that they are working on.
3 Give a reading assist
Reading and Mathematics are inseparable. Children with reading difficulties can make word problems harder. You can give a little support by reading the word problems aloud with your children.
Hearing the words can help them understand and internalise the problems better.
*BONUS TIP* Encourage your children to read for pleasure. Many studies show that children who read for pleasure are likely to do better in Mathematics and English than those who rarely read in their free time. With strong reading abilities, children often have a vast vocabulary that enables them to absorb and understand new information quickly.
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