Internet scratching its head over fourth grade maths problem

Confused? Us too.
Confused? Us too. Photo: Shutterstock

I used to love helping my kids with their homework. Helping out with simple maths and comprehension problems in those early school years made me feel like a mental giant. I do have to admit, my ability to help my kids with their maths probably peaked in about Grade Two.

But one maths problem specifically aimed at nine-year-olds with dyslexia has parents all over the internet feeling confused.

A dad shared his child's homework problem on Reddit recently because he didn't know how to help his daughter.

He explained there were "no instructions" given to his daughter, who attends a private school that specialises in teaching children with severe dyslexia.

The question says, "Janell had 15 marbles. She lost some of them. How many does Janell have now?"


All of the other questions on the worksheet have specific numbers to work with, but this question is a bit different. And vague.

The Reddit user's daughter understandably answered the problem with a question mark.


The overwhelming response was that it wasn't a fair question to ask a child of that age. Some took a stab at the problem though.

One person answered that the correct answer is <15 (less than 15), which of course is technically true, but not something you'd expect a third grader to know.

Another came back with this answer: "15 - n {n ∈ ℤ | 1

And some simply commented that "Janell has lost her marbles."

The dad is yet to question the school about the problem, so we're all just left to draw our own conclusions. If you come up with the answer, please let us know.