A daily tale of class struggle

6th September 1996 at 01:00
Frances Lindrea is sworn at, stalked by an eager learner and sees nature victorious in a battle with Power Rangers. June and Rose have tidied a vegetable rack of musical instruments. They want me to guess how they've organised it. I look hard and suggest colour. The girls are none too impressed. They explain their system patiently: the top rack has things that make a low sound, the middle rack has things that make a middling sound and things that make a teeny, high sound are on the bottom shelf. Jigging up and down as they ask, they want to know if they can share it with the class.

Stallis screams and swears at me full tilt one day this week, ostensibly because I'd asked her to rub off the generous amount of scribble she'd applied to a table top.

Sometime afterwards, red-eyed, she tells me, defensively, that she has heard from Deza, her Czech replacement Mum who had to leave England last term when her permit ran out.

She is puzzled: "It was Deza's birthday but she sent me a present - why did she do that?" Stallis is five and has had her fingernails painted exquisitely by her real mother, whom she sees about once every three weeks. She told me that her father doesn't like it when she has her nails painted but he hasn't got anything to take it off with.

Larry has lost a shoe, a jersey and a T-shirt this week. He also lost his father and a surname last term when his father disowned him in court. He is also five.

Fergus is learning to read; I know because he follows me round with this old American primer asking me if he's got a word right. The book's getting a bit shabby but it's brilliant. I can't work out why it should work; but it seems to be a springboard for many aspiring readers.

It's got good illustrations, minimal but realistic stories and just the right amount of repetition, but that could be said of a number of similar more up-to-date books which I would have thought the children would have found more attractive. An infant classroom is not the place for predicting things though.

Looking out of the window at playtime I see two boys, hefty six-year-olds, arms wide, running into the wind as a blossom tree sheds a myriad of petals, coating the boys pink and adding to their general hilarity and exhilaration; momentarily they have forgotten they are playing Power Rangers.

* Frances Lindrea hastaught for more than 30 yearsand lives in Hertford, Hertfordshire.

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