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Tackling Word Problems in Math

Mar 29, 2017
John is twenty years younger than Amy. In five years, he will be half her age. What is John's age now?
Does your child get frustrated by word problems like this one? Word problems take math concepts and apply them to the real world. But sometimes, when numbers and symbols are converted to words, even students adept at math get discouraged.
To successfully solve a word problem, children must first have a good understanding of math principles used in the problem. If a child struggles with basic division, then a word problem involving division will be difficult to solve.
Strong reading comprehension skills are also important. Once a child translates a word problem into a math equation, most students can calculate the answer. Determining the right equation is often the most challenging step. Strong reading comprehension helps students to decipher word problems correctly.
Here are tips for tackling word problems:
Read the question carefully. Make sure your child understands what he or she is to solve. Pay close attention to the final question of the problem. 

Understand the problem. Highlight main words and ideas. Ask the following questions: What am I being asked to do? What are the important facts? 

Convert the statement into a math equation. Break the problem into manageable, ordered steps. Identify key words such as “less than” and “product of” that indicate certain operations. Use a variable such as “x” for missing information. 

Generate the result. Make sure the answer makes sense and write it in appropriate units (e.g., hours, metres). Write the answer as a sentence. For example, “John is 15 years old.” 

At West Vancouver Sylvan Learning, we personalize math tutoring to meet your child's needs. Please call us at 604-926-3365 and find out how our math tutors can help your child improve confidence and get better grades.