# Why Your Child Gets Stumped by 5th Grade Math Word Problems

Last Updated on June 1, 2022 by Thinkster

Are you dealing with hours of homework and lots of tears as your child tried to find the correct answer to the question?

It seems like many, if not most, students loathe the moment they’re asked to solve a math word problem.

Whether a simple word problem or a multi-step word problem, they seem to ignite the same feeling in students:

Frustration or distress!

If this sounds relatable, here’s what you need to know.

## Why Word Problems Are Hard

Word problems require students to do two different things.

First, they must read and comprehend the information presented in the problem. Using conceptual understanding skills, students need to take their time to dissect the problem, identify keywords, and pull out the relevant and important information in the story problem.

Then, they must devise a plan, understand which math operation or math equation to use, then solve the word problem.

This requires both strong reading and strong math skills.

In particular, 5th grade math word problems are more challenging than word problems from prior years because this is the time when multi-step problems become common. Students can’t just find one clue word, stick in the numbers, and be finished.

They must be able to break down the problem into its parts and find the necessary operation to come up with the answer – and this process is a challenge.

## How to Help

As a parent, seeing your child struggling with 5th grade math word problems is never fun. What can you do to help?

First, sit down with your child and take a look at the problem he is stumped on. Read the problem, looking for keywords. By fifth grade, your child should know certain words that serve as clues for what to do in the problem, such as “take away” which means to subtract, or “product” which means to multiply. Write down the keywords in the problem.

Next, teach your child to look at the problem and see what he knows. Does he know enough to perform one of the actions indicated by keywords? If so, then have him do that to find the answer. If not, have him look at the problem more closely to see what he should figure out first.

If these strategies are not sufficient to solve complex 5th grade math word problems, take it a step further. Have your child draw a picture of what the problem is saying. Alternatively, use a model or household objects, if the numbers are small enough, to help make the problem make sense.

## When You Need Further Help

Sometimes, your child is simply stumped by word problems, and your best attempts at helping are just not doing enough. When this happens, it’s time to get some additional help.

Consider getting a dedicated math tutor who can give your child help in the exact math topics they are struggling to understand and learn.

Thinkster Math allows students to connect with a tutor via computer or tablet. With the help of a program like Thinkster, which tailors instruction to your child’s unique needs, strengths and weaknesses. Our world-class math curriculum includes problems that build conceptual understanding skills. Your child will get access to digital math worksheets to develop proficiency in any math skill.

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Is your child stumped by 5th grade math word problems? Are you dealing with hours of homework and lots of tears as your child tried to find the correct answer to the question?
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Thinkster Math
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