What Are Math Verbal Problems?

Did your child come home from school saying that he or she needs to practice math verbal problems? If you aren't sure how to help your child practice verbal math problems, keep reading for an overview, examples and some tips on how to help your child practice at home.

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What Do I Need to Know about Math Verbal Problems?

Math verbal problems, often referred to as word problems or story problems, are included in math curriculums at practically every grade level. In addition to solving these problems in the classroom, your child should also expect word problems to be prominent on standardized tests. These problems provide students with a chance to apply their math skills and perform operations in a real world format.

How to Help Your Child with Math Verbal Problems

It's important to teach your child to dissect these problems into manageable pieces. For instance, train your child to focus on one sentence of the problem at a time. Your child should take the information in that one sentence and perform the necessary operation before moving on to the next sentence. This will help your child work through the problem in a step-by-step manner and not be overwhelmed by the whole problem at once.

Your child will also be expected to solve problems that contain extra information. Provide practice problems that require your child to ignore the information that is superfluous. Because word problems tend to be more complex, teach your student to check his or her work to ensure correctness.

Lastly, to solve math verbal problems, your child must be able to use the information presented in the problem and choose an appropriate math operation. Consistent practice will help your child feel more confident with this type of problem.

Sample Problems

For an added challenge - and practice with listening skills - read the following problems out loud for your child. While listening, he or she should record only the crucial information, ignoring the unnecessary content.

1. Jimmy's mom brought $20 to the grocery store. If she bought 3 apples at $2 each, and 3 pears at $4 each, how much money did she spend in all?

For this problem, the statement that Jimmy's mom had $20 is unnecessary because your child is being asked to calculate the total amount due for the fruit. He or she can use multiplication to figure out how much was spent on apples and pears. For instance, 3 x 2 = 6 and 3 x 4 = 12. Then, he or she can add these two figures together to find the total (6 + 12 = $18).

2. Trisha skips to school every day. If she skips 3/4 of a mile to and from school, how far does she skip each day?

In this problem, the fact that Trisha skips to school is irrelevant. To solve, your child should add 3/4 + 3/4, which equals 6/4 of a mile. For advanced students, ask them to convert this improper fraction to a mixed number (1 1/2).
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