Does your child have a Love-Hate relationship with Word Problems?


23rd November 2020

Reading Time: 4 Minutes


If you think your child doesn’t enjoy solving world problems in math, then this article will give you some clues.

Children hate word problems. In the current methods of teaching mathematics, there are very few pointers to approach a word problem. There is no specific method to solve the different types of statement sums or word problems.

If the child understands how to read the problem and understand what operation he or she needs to do, then the learning becomes perfect. To get to that situation, your child needs to grasp all the methods to solve the different types of questions and make the student aware of these methods.

In general, most schools do not emphasize this part of the class. They don’t teach your child the procedure to break down the question into parts so that they could understand what they are expected to do.

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An Important facet of word problems:

English reading skills are one of the most important facets of this exercise. If your child’s vocabulary and understanding of words are good, you can be confident that they will be able to read the question fully and try to decipher its meaning.

A Girl improving her english by reading books

So it’s imperative that as parents you, build and nurture your kids’ reading skills. It helps if either of the parents has a reading habit.

Downloadable PDF

If you ever want to read it again as many times as you want, here is a downloadable PDF to explore more.


Does your child have a Love-Hate relationship with Word Problems?


What are the types of word problems?

There are various types of word problems. Broadly they can be divided into

 a)  Single-step word problems

Single-step word problems are where the data is given and there is just one operation to do. If you identify the correct operation, then you get the correct solution.

 b)  Multi-step word problems

Multi-step word problems are usually where two or more operations would be expected of the student. The data from the first operation usually feeds the second operation.

Both of these can be further divided as:

1) Add to

2) Take from

3) Part, whole

4) Compare

 In each of these categories, there are three different ways to form a question:

1) Result unknown

2) Start unknown

3) Change unknown

An Add to question with Result unknown will be like this:

1) There were 4 birds in a tree. 2 more flew in. Now, how many birds are there?

2) If there were 7 cycles, then how many wheels are there altogether?

A take from the question with the start unknown could be:

1)  There were some ducks in the pond. 5 flew away. Now there are 2 left. How many were there before they flew away?

2)  Suman had some money in her account at the bank. She spent 5300 RS in shopping. Now she has 1200 RS left. How much did she have before shopping?

So you can use these methods to make your child look for the type of question. As your child practices more and more, they identify the question types easily.

What is your child expected to do while solving word problems?

Another important point is the skill to identify the type of operation. To facilitate this, the teacher can do some specific strategies. Though the students may not adapt to this method, in time, they lose the fear of tackling such problems.

1)  In every class, based on the current concept, formulate a word problem connecting with the child’s day to day activities.

2) When teachers do this regularly, the children develop a mindset for a word problem automatically.

3) For younger children, math riddles work beautifully.

For example, try these math riddles:

4) Choose problems that ask them to identify the type of operation like multiply or divide.

5)  The children will usually be daunted by a challenging question. Making a game out of the word problem will effectively take the fear out of facing such questions.

How to break down a word problem?

For each word problem, the thought process should involve these steps:

1) Read the question

2) The plan to solve

  • What do I know
  • What do I need to know
  • How to solve

3)  Solve the question

  • How can I show my thinking
  • Is there another way to solve

4)   Checking the answer

  • How can I check if my answer is correct?
  • Does the answer make sense?

You should be aware of your child’s reading and comprehension level before proceeding to help the child. You can assist in reading or understanding based on it. Most children lose focus as soon as they see that the question is very long. You need to be patient and break down the question into parts.

What is the other way of solving word problems?

Another common method to solve word problems is the bar model method.

A child solving word problems in-front of teacher with the help of diagrams

In this method, the teacher asks the children to draw a rectangle and depict the given values in the figure. Based on the question, the figure will vary.


Do you think this blog will help your child solve word problems easily?

Word problems in math can be tricky. To get the right answer, your child has to be able to read the words, figure out what math operation to use, and then do the calculations correctly.

On the other hand, you can ask kids to picture what’s happening in the problem like “Imagine the first group of boys joining together with the second group and forming one large group”.

Also, together you can set up a plan to help your child get better at solving word problems.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How to solve word problems?

1.Read the problem out loud to yourself.

2.Draw a Picture.

3.Think “What do I need to find?”

4.List what is given?

5.Find the key words.


7.Check your work.

Why are word problems difficult?

Word problems tend to be complicated in part because of their descriptive language. Students often don't understand what exactly they're being asked, especially when the problem includes abstract concepts.

How do you teach a child word problems?

1. Use highlighters to mark important information.

2. Word problems are overwhelming, but you can help your child break the problem down by only highlighting the parts of the problem that matter to them. 

3. Remove the numbers from the equation. 

4. Use visuals.

External References

To know more about word problem solving, visit these blogs:

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