HOW TO SOLVE MATHS WORD PROBLEMS
The objectives for the National Curriculum have recently changed and for the first time this year students in Year 2 and 6 will be tested on their reasoning skills in maths. This now involves the completion of multi step word problems. Maths word problems can seem daunting to students. However there are questions and strategies that you can encourage your child to apply which can develop their confidence in their mathematical reasoning and support them in recording their thinking as they complete word problems.
Encourage your child to read and re-read the question attempting a word problem. Some children may find it useful to sketch or even build a simple model in order to visualise and understand the question. Colour coding, circling, underlining or boxing key words are also effective tools in developing an understanding of the question. At this stage, your child should ask themselves, “What is the problem asking?" Your child should also consider and predict what a reasonable answer to the question might be.
As your child solves the word problem they should record their thinking and strategies; for example: by working backwards through the problem, using lists or charts and noting any patterns. During the solving process, your child should consider if their strategy is effective. Recording their thinking is important as marks can be awarded for using the correct method.
After solving the problem, encourage your child to check their calculations and ask themselves if they have answered the question, and that their answer makes sense. Finally, they should write their answer in a sentence using mathematical vocabulary.
The following mnemonics - RUCSAC and CUBES- are useful strategies in to use in developing a problem solving skills.
Read and re-read the question.
Underline key words.
Choose the operation or operations.
Do I need to add, subtract, multiply or divide?
Solve the problem - record thinking and strategies.
Answer the question in a sentence.
Check the answer.
Circle important words
Underline the question or questions
Box the actions
Eliminate extra unnecessary information
Solve the question and show your thinking.