Is your child stumped by 5th grade math word problems? Are you dealing with hours of homework and a frustrated student? If so, here’s what you need to know.
Why Word Problems Are Hard
Word problems require students to do two different things. First, they must read and comprehend the information presented in the problem. Then, they must devise and solve the math problem required to solve the word problem. This requires both strong reading and strong math skills.
In particular, 5th grade math word problems are more challenging than word problems from prior years because this is the time when multi-step problems become common. Students can’t just find one clue word, stick in the numbers and be finished. They must be able to break down the problem into its parts and find all of the operations necessary to come up with the answer – and this process is a challenge.
How to Help
As a parent, seeing your child struggling with 5th grade math word problems is never fun. What can you do to help?
First, sit down with your child and take a look at the problem he is stumped on. Read the problem, looking for keywords. By fifth grade, your child should know certain words that serve as clues for what to do in the problem, such as “take away” means to subtract or “product” means to multiply. Write down the keywords in the problem.
Next, teach your child to look at the problem and see what he knows. Does he know enough to perform one of the actions indicated by keywords? If so, then have him do that to find the answer. If not, have him look at the problem more closely to see what he should figure first.
If these strategies are not sufficient to solve complex 5th grade math word problems, take it a step farther. Have your child draw a picture of what the problem is saying. Alternatively, use a model or household objects, if the numbers are small enough, to help make the problem make sense.
When You Need Further Help
Sometimes, your child is simply stumped by word problems, and your best attempts at helping are just not doing enough. When this happens, it’s time to get some outside help.
Consider getting tutoring options delivered directly to your tablet. Thinkster Math offers such an option, giving students training directly from certified teachers on the tablet. With the help of a program like Thinkster, which tailors instruction to your child’s unique needs, strengths and weaknesses, you can ensure that 5th grade math word problems, or any other part of the math curriculum – no longer stump your child.