Mother turns to the internet after struggling with first grader’s homework

Over the years parents have complained about how teachers have changed the way subjects in school are taught.

One mother in Buckinghamshire, England, had become so confused helping her 6-year-old with a worksheet that she posted the question in a private Facebook group.  “At first I thought I was losing my mind. I was like, ‘What am I missing here?’” So I posted in a group with loads of moms hoping they would have the answer,” Laura Rathbone said in an interview with Today.

Rathbone’s daughter, Lilly-Mo, was asked on the worksheet to pick the odd item out, based on the five items she was given. The items listed were: friend, toothbrush, desk, silver and egg.

“So… my six-year-old daughter who’s in year one got this homework question,” her Facebook post read. “It’s confusing in my opinion, to say the least, especially considering the age it’s aimed at… but I’d love to hear your answers!”

She added, “I think it’s something you’d find in a Puzzler magazine personally but let me know your thoughts.

After posting, many commenters had different theories as to which word fit the bill. Some thought it was the word “friend” because it’s the only word that isn’t an object.

Another agreed that the word was “friend” but for a different reason. “Friend because it’s the only word that can not be phonetically sounded out. All others you can. Given its phonic homework that is what I would say it is checking,” they wrote in the comments.

Other people thought the word was “silver”, arguing that it was the only adjective in the bunch while some people made the case that it was both a noun and an adjective. “Silver — as it’s an adjective and the rest are nouns would be my guess although silver is a bad choice of color as it could actually be a noun if it was a physical object. Silly question!” one person wrote.

“Silver isn’t a noun but I don’t know the context in which the homework is asking. If it’s confusing for adults it would be incredibly confusing for children,” said another.

Some commenters argued that the word could be “egg” because it’s the only word in the list that’s edible. “Egg is the only item you can eat…” one comment claimed. “Not saying little people wouldn’t eat or try to eat the other objects, but they are not food.”

There were also some advocates for the word “toothbrush” for being the only word without an ‘e’, a compound word, and the only item not typically shared. “I would say toothbrush as it’s the only one with 2 syllables?” one person replied.

“Everybody had different theories, and it was quite interesting!” Rathbone told Today. “I really enjoyed reading all of the comments.”

The next day after posting she ended up reaching out to her daughter’s teacher who let her know that the class was studying nouns at the time, and that the correct answer to that question was “silver” because it was counted as an adjective.

“I also asked about this in my parents WhatsApp chat and no one had the same answer,” Rathbone said. “It’s a real brain teaser!”


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