# 10 Strategies for Problem-Solving in Math

reviewed by Jo-ann Caballes

Updated on August 21, 2024

It’s not surprising that kids who lack problem-solving skills feel stuck in math class. Students who are behind in problem-solving may have difficulties identifying and carrying out a plan of action to solve a problem. Math strategies for problem-solving allow children to use a range of approaches to work out math problems productively and with ease. This article explores math problem-solving strategies and how kids can use them both in traditional classes and in a virtual classroom.

## What are problem-solving strategies in math?

Problem-solving strategies for math make it easier to tackle math and work up an effective solution. When we face any kind of problem, it’s usually impossible to solve it without carrying out a good plan.In other words, these strategies were designed to make math for kids easier and more manageable. Another great benefit of these strategies is that kids can spend less time cracking math problems.

### Here are some problem-solving methods:

- Drawing a picture or diagram (helps visualize the problem)
- Breaking the problem into smaller parts (to keep track of what has been done)
- Making a table or a list (helps students to organize information)

When children have a toolkit of math problem-solving strategies at hand, it makes it easier for them to excel in math and progress faster.

## How to solve math problems?

To solve math problems, it’s worth having strategies for math problem-solving that include several steps, but it doesn’t necessarily mean they are failproof. They serve as a guide to the solution when it’s difficult to decide where and how to start. Research suggests that breaking down complex problems into smaller stages can reduce cognitive load and make it easier for students to solve problems. Essentially, a suitable strategy can help kids to find the right answers fast.

Here are 5 math problem-solving strategies for kids:

### Understanding the Problem

Understanding the problem is the first step in the journey of solving it. Without doing this, kids won’t be able to address it in any way. In the beginning, it’s important to read the problem carefully and make sure to understand every part of it. Next, when kids know what they are asked to do, they have to write down the information they have and determine what essentially they need to solve.

### Work Out a Plan

Working out a plan is one of the most important steps to solving math problems. Here, the kid has to choose a good strategy that will help them with a specific math problem. Outline these steps either in mind or on paper.

### Carry Out the Plan

Being methodical at that stage is key. It involves following the plan and performing calculations with the correct operations and rules. Finally, when the work is done, the child can review and show their work to a teacher or tutor.

### Review the Work

This is where checking if the answer is correct takes place. If time allows, children and the teacher can choose other methods and try to solve the same problem again with a different approach.

### Reflect and Analyze

This stage is a great opportunity to think about how the problem was solved: did any part cause confusion? Was there a more efficient method? It’s important to let the child know that they can use the insights gained for future reference.

## Ways to solve math problems

The ways to solve math problems for kids are numerous, but it doesn’t mean they all work the same for everybody. For example, some children may find visual strategies work best for them; some prefer acting out the problem using movements. Finding what kind of method or strategy works best for your kid will be extremely beneficial both for school performance and in real-life scenarios where they can apply problem-solving.

Online tutoring platforms like Brighterly offer personalized assistance, interactive tools, and access to resources that help to determine which strategies are best for your child. Expertise-driven tutors know how to guide your kid so they won’t be stuck with the same fallacies that interfere with effective problem-solving. For example, tutors can assist kids with drawing a diagram, acting a problem out with movement, or working backward. All of these ways are highly effective, especially with a trusted supporter by your side.

### What are 10 strategies for solving math problems?

There are plenty of different problem-solving strategies for mathematical problems to help kids discover answers. Let’s explore 10 popular problem-solving strategies:

#### Understand the Problem

Figuring out the nature of math problems is the key to solving them. Kids need to identify what kind of issue this is (fraction problem, word problem, quadratic equation, etc.) and work up a plan to solve it.

#### Guess and Check

With this approach, kids simply need to keep guessing until they get the answer right. While this approach may seem irrelevant, it illustrates what the kid’s thinking process is.

#### Work It Out

This method encourages students to write down or say their problem-solving process instead of going straight to solving it without preparation. This minimizes the probability of mistakes.

#### Work Backwords

Working backward is a great problem-solving strategy to acquire a fresh perspective. It requires one to come up with a probable solution and decide which step to take to come to that solution.

#### Visualize

A visual representation of a math problem may help kids to understand it in full. One way to visualize a problem is to use a blank piece of paper and draw a picture, including all of the aspects of the issue.

#### Find a Pattern

By helping students see patterns in math problems, we help them to extract and list relevant details. This method is very effective in learning shapes and other topics that need repetition.

#### Think

It may be self-explanatory, but it’s quite helpful to ask, “What are some possible solutions to this issue?”. By giving kids time to think and reflect, we help them to develop creative and critical thinking.

#### Draw a Picture or Diagram

Instead of drawing the math problem yourself, ask the kid to draw it themselves. They can draw pictures of the ideas they have been taught to help them remember the concepts better.

#### Trial and Error Method

Not knowing clear formulas or instructions, kids won’t be able to solve anything. Ask them to make a list of possible answers based on rules they already know. Let them learn by making mistakes and trying to find a better solution.

#### Review Answers with Peers

It’s so fun to solve problems alongside your peers. Kids can review their answers together and share ideas on how each problem can be solved.

## Math problem-solving strategies for elementary students

5 problem-solving strategies for elementary students include:

### Using Simple Language

Ask students to explain the problem in their own words to make sure they understand the problem correctly.

### Using Visuals and Manipulatives

Using drawing and manipulatives like counters, blocks, or beads can help students grasp the issue faster.

### Simplifying the Problem

Breaking the problem into a step-by-step process and smaller, manageable steps will allow students to find the solution faster.

### Looking for Patterns

Identifying patterns in numbers and operations is a great strategy to help students gain more confidence along the way.

### Using Stories

Turning math problems into stories will surely engage youngsters and make them participate more actively.

## Conclusion

To recap, students need to have effective math problem-solving strategies up their sleeves. Not only does it help them in the classroom, but it’s also an essential skill for real-life situations. Productive problem-solving strategies for math vary depending on the grade. But what they have in common is that kids have to know how to break the issue into smaller parts and apply critical and creative thinking to solve it.

If you want your kid to learn how to thrive in STEM and apply problem-solving strategies to both math and real life, book a free demo lesson with Brighterly today! Make your child excited about math!