Most of us wonder why kids struggle with Math Word Problems. So we thought it would be better to know the root cause first before proceeding with the solutions. We got several reasons for this from teachers and parents, but the top three concerns were:
Lack of Confidence: Yes, many students battle with anxiety issues when they see a word problem. They lack confidence in seeing through the word problem, and they get confused most often. This makes them fearful of approaching failure, and they tremble to solve it.
Lack of flexibility in thinking: Kids are taught to solve math word problems in a systematic procedure with customary step by step plan using keywords. Planned ways of answering a question do not always work, and they need to understand standardized tests require creative thinking and flexibility with strategies as well.
The complexity of problems: Teachers and parents want their kids to develop learning skills at a quick pace. But while learning math, you cannot expect your child to do well in the future without mastering the basics. Similarly, word problems, have to start at a slow pace, and the complexity has to be increased over time.
So we recommend you the following Problem Solving Strategies that implies to 2nd grade, 3rd grade, and 4th grade math word problems. Teachers need to understand that the only way to conquer math word problems is through engaging classroom approaches that counteract the above mentioned concerns.
Highlight the relevant information: When your kids start with 2nd-grade math word problems, you need to break the complexity of the problem by highlighting the important parts that matter. This can give them a clear idea of what calculations are needed if its addition or subtraction. So they can concentrate on those calculations leaving the rest. First, you can help them with this and later on advise them to highlight the important part after they read the word problem and carry on the calculations.
Provide them equation without numbers: With an increase in the complexity of calculations with 3rd-grade math word problems, children find it challenging to extract the correct information out of the word problem. So you need to give them word problems with the numbers blotted out. Ask them to read the questions and identify if it’s an addition problem, subtraction problem, multiplication problem, or a division problem. Such ways can help you focus on kid’s analytical skills without having to solve the problem.
Help them visualize the problem: You can use visuals to help kids get the word problems in mind. Yes, this is a valuable tool in teaching math word problems. For example, for a word problem involving toffees, get them toffees and ask them to visualize the problem using it. They find it easy to solve and delightful to work with word problems.
Go with a formal strategy: Most of the kids need a system to follow. So for this, we recommend you to give a simple and straightforward strategy to help them with solving word problems. Please make sure the strategy you go on with is less confusing and a good one for them to understand. Here is an example of a plan for math word problems: The first step, ask them to read the question and think about what it is. Second, ask them to re-read the question and know what it is asking. The third step, plan your approach and think about the best way to solve it. Fourth, start solving the problem after deciding the operation you need to use. And finally, check your answer and see if your math calculations are correct.
Compare word problems: Develop a kid’s flexibility to different approaches by analyzing and comparing word problems. For this purpose, you can use problems with similar calculations and numbers, but the stories and structure need to be different. Interact with them and have them explain the difference in operation and structure of word problems.
You need to understand the fact that word problems are a big transition from regular math problems, and these problems require a different set of skills that has to be developed in kids with proper guidance. So as a teacher or parent, you need to help kids develop their critical thinking and analytical skills through constant practice so they can succeed in math word problems of all types.
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