There are several standard exercises which train students to convert percentages, decimals and fractions. Converting percentage to decimals for example is actually as simple as moving the decimal point two places to the left and losing the percent sign "%." Thus 89% is equal to 0ቑ. Expressed in fraction, that would be 89럼. When you drill kids to do this often enough, they learn to do conversion almost instinctively. Ratios and proportions are likewise wonderful math lessons with plenty of interesting practical applications. If three pans of pizza, one kilo of spaghetti, two buckets of chicken can properly feed 20 hungry friends, then how much pizza, spaghetti and chicken does mom need to prepare for birthday party with 30 kids?
Who's Fault? _ Is it his fault that he lacks confidence with word problems? Not entirely. Our actions, as educators, seem to imply a belief that solving word problems should come more naturally than simpler operations like arithmetic and algebra. Many parents and teachers feel justified in encouraging (i.e. forcing) a child to work hundreds or thousands of math worksheets, drill multiplication tables, long division... but few encourage solving hundreds of story problems. One suspects that the relative ease of creating and checking ordinary math worksheets keeps the focus of math education on simple, atomic operations at the expense of more holistic story problems.