A parent has been left scratching their head over a six-year-old’s homework question that ‘doesn’t make any sense’. In a desperate search for the answer, they have taken to social media to ask for help to work out the solution, admitting it has “severely shaken” their self-esteem.

They said: “This is silly, my son is six-years-old and I can’t believe I am getting stuck with his homework. I have tried everything, and my self-esteem has been severely shaken. Help me save face in front of my kid’s teacher.”

The homework sheet, titled ‘Looking for Patterns’, asks students to calculate the missing numbers in the equations. It reads: “Each board is missing three different numbers: square, pentagon, and triangle. What are the numbers?”

From there, it shows six multiplications and six subtractions the students can use to try to figure out the missing three numbers. The parent added: “I have tried the first board for what feels like hours. If pentagon + square = 5.

“That must mean the pentagon and square are either 1,2,3 and 4. If 1 + pentagon = triangle. That must mean that the pentagon and square cannot equal 1. Right? I have tried all combinations between 2,3 and 4 but cannot find the solution. This is driving me nuts.”

Commenting on the post, one user said: “Since this problem is meant for kids I’m not going to tell you to solve it like a regular system of equations. Instead, note that the third line of the first box can be rearranged to look like the first line, and once you figure out that square = 1 the rest becomes trivial. Similar logic applies to the other two problems.”

Another user added: “Everyone has overcomplicated this. Every single line has one thing replaced with a number, and conveniently every board has one line with each shape missing. I think this is the pattern six-year-olds are expected to find.

“E.g. on board 1, in line 1 the square has been replaced with 1, in line 2 the triangle has been replaced with 5 and in line 4 the pentagon has been replaced with 4. Those numbers work in every line. The same applies to the other boards.”

A third user said: “You don’t need to know any math to solve this. Each line has the same 3 symbols without repetitions. So, in the ones with a number, the missing symbol is simply the number. Like the first one: In the first line there is no square, which means the square is the number 1 In the second line, there is no rectangle, so the rectangle is a 5.”

When thanking users for their answers, the parent confirmed the homework sheet had been completed and was awaiting teacher marking. They added: “The funny thing is that he figured it out in the end. He didn’t do any math to start. He started by adding the missing shape where the numbers are. So every shape appears in each line.

“When he figured that 5 was a triangle and for a pentagon, he filled the empty shapes with numbers and finished with basic additions and subtractions.”