Q:

All year long, my daughter has struggled with story problems. I'd like to help her learn to handle them. Any ideas? -- Solution Wanted

A:

She definitely needs to know some basic word clues that can be used to determine what mathematical operation must be used in solving the story problem. When she reads the words "and," "together," "sum," "in all," "altogether," or "total" in a story problem, it usually means that she will need to add to solve the problem.

Words that can indicate subtraction include "fewer," "less," "from," "left," remain" and "difference." Also, questions such as "How much taller, smaller, etc.?" and "How many more or less?" can signal a subtraction problem.

Multiplication may be identified through the words "times," "product," "double," "triple," "twice" and "of."

Division is indicated when you need to sort objects into groups. Division is usually required when you read such words as "divided into," "quotient," share," "average" and "each."

Read many story problems together and have her look for the words that indicate the correct operation. Also, it helps to draw pictures that illustrate a problem.

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