School can be a very scary place for a four-year-old. To convince new reception pupils that they will be able to cope in this brave new world, a primary teacher has written a book to assuage their fears.
Phil Allen, French teacher at Kingshott prep, in Hertfordshire, wrote So many things you can do on your own to reassure his own four-year-old son, Nicholas.
"I wanted a book that would help him think about going to school," said Mr Allen. "I wanted to show him that he does have the skills he needs.
Hopefully it will make school less worrying."
The story is a 12-verse poem, in which a small boy prepares for school, waking up in his own bed, brushing his own teeth and getting dressed on his own.
"Nicholas will come into our bedroom in the morning already dressed," said Mr Allen. "He's proud of what he can do, because it says in a book that he can."
The boy in the book also displays useful social skills, making friends and giving them a hug when they are upset. It is such general skills which are being promoted through the "nappy curriculum", or early-years foundation stage, which all schools, nurseries and childminders will be obliged to follow from 2008.
Realising that these accomplishments are not unique to his son, Mr Allen decided to have the poem printed, accompanied by illustrations by Kingshott pupils.
The resulting book will be given to all four-year-olds starting at Kingshott in September, so that their parents can read it to them over the summer. The final four verses of the poem focus on the new skills that children will acquire at school, such as reading, writing and music. "I think Nicholas thought he would just be playing in the playground all day,"
said his 36-year-old father. "So the book has gradually been making it more real for him."
He has no expectations that next year's reception pupils will ask him for his autograph. But the head has already referred to him as "Kingshott's answer to JK Rowling", a claim Mr Allen dismisses as "a little bit over the top".
Nonetheless, Nicholas is proud of his father. "It's good that daddy's written a book," he said. "It will be difficult at big school, but I can do everything in the book. When mummy and daddy are still asleep, I can brush my teeth and get dressed. That makes me happier about going to school."