Thank God it's Friday

10th January 1997 at 00:00
Monday: I've now had a term with the reception class and I had forgotten what it was like. Back in September the head said there would be a staggered intake and now the whole class is here, it's me that staggers home on a Friday.

They're still not used to assembly and today I could see Jake was getting a bit restless. I was so pleased when the head asked a question and he put his hand up. I was less pleased when it was only to ask what time it was, had she finished, and could he go home. Three of the little darlings went home wet through tonight after they sprayed themselves in the cloakroom.

"But we were only doing thum thience mith," explained one of them all wide-eyed and innocent.

Tuesday: There are recurring nightmares taking reception; changing for PE; lining up in a straight line; taking shoes on and off; being sneezed on; and walking anywhere at all. Add to this, sitting still; listening quietly; and tidying up and you have an idea why I'm so dependent on any help I can get. The baseline assessment course I went on made no mention of sneezing but I think it should be included. After all, sneezing accurately into a tissue, is two levels higher than sneezing all over me.

So I think I've got problems? My colleague in an upper school is doing a unit on living things.

"How do frogs breed?" she asked.

"Through dere dose," someone replied.

Wednesday: My headteacher husband who retired in the summer is running things at home. But he still hasn't got the hang of programming the washing machine. I leave it all in neatly-sorted piles so all he has to do is shove it in on "50, easy care and delicate." Apparently he thought I was talking about him.

He made flapjack this week but burned it. He put it all upside down in the tin to hide the black bits, hoping I wouldn't notice. We now call it blackjack. I've had to explain that when making a casserole you do need to peel the onions and carrots.

This morning I found four-year-old Tom sitting in the cloakroom eating the contents of Jake's lunchbox. He'd helped himself and was sitting, munching, with a face covered in chocolate.

Thursday: I've made my role play area into a mock office so the children can speak into a telephone and write letters and lists.

"Right, now go and do your work in the office," I tell a small group who happily disappear as soon as I turn my back to work with some readers at another table. Two minutes later the school secretary appears looking flustered but amused. Had I really sent them all to work with her for the rest of the morning?

The target for the week is finding their own shoes.

On Monday nobody put their own shoes back on.

On Tuesday several found one correct shoe.

Yesterday several found two correct shoes.

Today one of them put my shoes on.

Friday: A couple of mysteries need to be solved. First, who left the wet knickers in the hall after PE and, second, why did I agree to take a reception class?

I must learn not to ask them "And who would like to ...?" Every occasion I say this, every hand shoots up to cries of "Me miss, me miss" before I've even finished the question.

I must also learn that role play is not always role play. I heard two boys in the office area pretending to ring for the computer repair man. I listened to their improved and imaginative language and was chuffed. But at home time I realised they weren't pretending at all. After they'd finished with it, the computer did need repairing.

Harriet Thomas teaches at Brudenell Primary School, Headingley, Leeds

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