Problem Solving for Kids: Mental Maths

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Updated on: Educator Review By: Michelle Connolly

Mathematics can be a challenging subject for people of all ages. With lots of different mental maths tricks, problem solving for kids can be a fun and dynamic way to get children to engage with learning easier ways to solve problems.

Maths problems can include multiple mathematical operations and concepts which can be difficult for children to understand. By teaching problem solving for kids and showing them math tricks and methods to solve problems, their relationship with numbers will be much stronger and they will find it easier to grasp as they get older and deal with even more complex sums.

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Student is Solving a Math Problem on chalkboard

Problem Solving for Kids: Creating Math Word Problems

Understanding sums can be difficult, but teaching problem solving for children in an efficient and concise way when they are younger can aid them with more complex math problems as they get older. Using Math word problems are good for learning a variety of skills due to their multidisciplinary nature: you are learning numeracy, literacy, and grasping shapes.

The concept of math word problems is finding ways to link shapes to numbers. This ensures that children’s counting skills are developed as well as practising the techniques of addition and subtraction through the story problems created in the shapes. 

The stages to consider when delving into math word problems or story problems need to be broken down and explained. The first stage involves counting the number of shapes drawn on the board and then managing to answer the questions that these stories pose.

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A Girl is Solving a Math Word Problem

Story problems can also be delivered in reverse, where the child will make up the story from the numbers given by a parent or a guardian. This is a perfect way to teach your child addition and subtraction in a vibrant yet challenging way. This encourages thinking skills which they will find improving while they translate shapes into numbers and creatively think using stories to explain their numbers. 

Encouraging children to make up stories through numbers by asking them to represent numbers through shapes they wish to draw. For example, you could ask them to represent the number three by getting them to draw and then encourage them to add two to that shape or remove one and so on.

This will give your child plenty of material to work with as they make a story up from the numbers and mathematical equations. Ensure your children understand what they are doing as well by going through the stages of number storytelling while helping them with calculations if they need it.

 Problem Solving for Kids: Mental Math Games for Kids

Mental math can be challenging, but it can also be an exciting part of mathematics for children to be involved in. Using a game called ‘If this is the answer’ is a fantastic method to see if children are able to solve more complex problems. Encouraging this type of problem solving in kids is a great way to introduce these complex concepts to them.

Mental maths helps with critical thinking skills as well as encouraging them to see the variety of possibilities to solve problems – something that works outside of the realm of mathematics as well. Using operations like addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division, problem solving for kids allow them to explore these concepts. 

Using ‘If this is the answer’ a child is introduced to the idea of possible solutions. If you say to your child the answer is eighteen, then giving them the opportunity to work out some of the possibilities it could be can be entertaining. It could be 18 + 0, 2 x 9, even 20 – 2.

This game can be played with a variety of ages and is a great tool for seeing how children are using their critical thinking skills. Younger children might only be able to work within single digits whereas older children will be able to utilise more complex mathematical operations. 

These types of mental maths games employ strategy and allow children the opportunity to become creative with their work. Teaching them patterns in mathematics with a wide range of possibilities is a fantastic introduction for problem solving for kids and gives them the confidence to make independent decisions.

Maths tricks make dealing with these complex sums an easier option and encourage children to try doing sums themselves. Giving children space and time to work calculations out is important as well. Help them if they are really struggling, but allow them to try and find solutions independently before jumping in to help them. Problem solving for kids can be developed by giving them the opportunity to find solutions for themselves. 

Addition for Kids: Story Problem Solving for Kids 

A great method of teaching problem solving for kids and ensuring they understand addition is using story problem solving skills surrounding addition. This encourages a wide range of skills including mathematical vocabulary. A fantastic technique to teach children is the RUCSAC or Read, Understand, Choose, Solve, Answer, and Check.

This is a full-proof method to ensure that your child has grasped the concept and is doing it correctly. Ensure that your child takes some time to read their story problem and give them the space to explore it.

This allows them to find the correct order of words and other elements that need to come into their story in order to solve their problem. Problem solving for kids also involved solving the problem, knowing what is needed for answering it, and then being able to take the time to check their answer. This ensures greater accuracy. 

This type of method, while fantastic for teaching, can be problematic and somewhat complex for children to work out. This is why they need to be paying close attention to their work to ensure that they are certainly understanding everything that is being asked of them in their problem.

Using the term, for example, ‘altogether’ can be used on a story problem about addition as it is solely about bringing two numbers together in the story. Allowing this to happen means that they can be eventually added together to create the final answer and, thus, the story has its ending.

We hope you liked today’s lesson as much as we enjoyed writing it for you. If you want to learn more about Math and many other interesting things like: Numeracy, Math Magician, Easy Math, Times Tables Games, Counting Numbers for Kids, Lego Math, Great 3 Resources from Numbers to Fractions, Mental Math Tricks, Addition and Counting on for Kids, Fun Math Game with Treat Incentive and Fun Math Games.

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