Do you look at your child’s Maths textbook and feel a growing sense of confusion? Don’t worry – you are not alone! There is little need to be alarmed, though; the concepts and ideas that our children are learning in primary 1 and 2 maths are the same. It is simply that teaching methods have evolved from what we were used to.
The Singapore Maths Curriculum Framework
The Singapore Mathematics Framework has five key interdependent elements that surround a central goal – problem-solving. It is in this framework that the latest curriculum is developed so that children will learn to master the art of problem-solving using real skills acquired through Maths.
As daunting as this might sound, problem-solving is not new to lower primary children. In fact, with the new curriculum, problem-solving is weaved seamlessly into their daily work through the questions that are asked both in class and on paper.
Despite the early exposure to problem-solving skills and questions at Primary 1, some children still struggle to grasp the concept behind problem sums.
Possible Challenges That Children Face and How They Can Be Solved
Word problems in Maths can be tricky as it is not just about answering the question. Not only is reading an important factor, your child also must figure out which mathematical operation to use and then work on solving the equation altogether.
A child who is good at Maths can struggle with problem sums too.
Here are three proven tips that can help your children to do better at problem sums.
#1: Trouble with reading
One of the key challenges that children face in problem-solving questions is the inability to comprehend what the question is asking. A child with weak language ability will struggle to make sense of the lengthy problem sums compared to a child who has better language ability.
In order to tell if this is an issue, try reading the question out to your child. If your child can solve the question when it is read aloud, but not if he is left to read on his own, then the problem lies in reading comprehension.
Speak to your child’s teacher and ask if there is a chance for word problems to be read aloud occasionally. This allows your child to have a boost in confidence, knowing that he can solve problems sums if he works on his reading skills.
#2: Picking out keywords
There are plenty of key phrases in Maths problem sums for primary 1 and 2 that guide children in solving the questions. Learning to pick out key phrases is quintessential in deciding which mathematical operation should be used to create a number sentence to solve the sum. A strong reader may stumble at this stage because he needs to translate a short passage into a number sentence. This requires a lot of mental processing for a child.
To overcome this issue, you can work on getting your children to highlight key phrases in a word problem. They need to recognise that key phrases are just a group of words that gives meaning to the number sentence.
For example, if they see words like, “altogether” or “in all”, it generally means that they have to give an addition number sentence. Words like “give away” or “how many are left” would, therefore, mean that they have to provide a subtraction number sentence.
#3: Focus and self-control
When a word problem offers too much information, that can be daunting for children to sieve out the important bits to solve the question. Children may be distracted by the words and that leads to confusion.
To combat this issue, children need to be taught to focus on the important information. For example, if a question asks for the total number of oranges that John had bought, is it important to know how long he had spent at the supermarket to buy the oranges? Even if the question were to offer that knowledge, children should learn to ignore that information and focus on the bits that lead to their number sentence.
Are enrichment classes needed?
Does it still sound a little overwhelming? Perhaps you would prefer to leave it to the experts.
Let us help build your children’s confidence in attempting problem-solving questions. In our MindChampion Junior Programme, your children will gain skills to understand the knowledge that they have picked up in the classroom and apply them to the questions that they face.
Written by Danielle Hee