How to Solve the Dreaded Math Story Problem

Whether its standardized tests or classroom work, there are always going to be story problems in math. After all, those “stories” are the real world applications of math. Our visual, ADD kids have to sort through a lot of words in order to do the math computation, hence the struggle. Here are some ways to make the problems more visual, so our kids will be more successful.

  1. Make the word problem visual. This can be as simple as underlining key words, making notes and working the problem out in full detail. Those are all visual things. And if appropriate, drawing out symbols or little pictures to help ‘see’ the problem. Just be careful to make it visual enough to help, and not so much they get distracted. It’s all about balance.

  1. Show the work. Visual kids tend to be as brief as possible, maybe so their time doing math is as brief as possible. But writing out the whole problem and showing the computation work, helps kids miss less detail and let’s teacher see the way they’re solving it. Writing it out also helps them ‘see’ the whole problem. Get them used to doing the actual computation over to the side, so problem and computing don’t get tangled up.

  1. Check your work! Once the work is done, go back !! I’m sure we’ve all said this more than once – now we just need to help train kids to actually do it. Have them reread each question. Did they answer the right question? Too much info? Not enough? Did they remember decimal points? Estimate. Does it seem like the right answer?