Katie Daynes, author of Usborne’s Very First Questions and Answers series, shares the experiences that inspired her latest book about starting school.
A child’s first day at school is a major milestone – not just for the child, but for the whole family. Some children will skip through the school gates without a backward glance, blissfully unaware of the tear escaping from their parent’s eye, or the look of sheer relief. Other children will be clingy and resistant, with good days and bad days, taking a long time to settle in. ALL OF THIS IS NORMAL!
I remember my son’s first day going pretty smoothly and congratulating myself on a job well done. But then came the second day, and the third day, and then the fourth… Somehow, I’d focused so much on sugar-coating the Big First Day, that I hadn’t prepared him for the reality that school would be five days a week, every week!
When I started planning the book Why do I have to go to school? I was thinking of both the pre-school child and their parent or carer. I wanted a book that would reassure them and familiarise them with what to expect. There’s a calendar for when to go to school (to help parents avoid my own pitfall!) and different examples of how to get to school; there’s a big scene showing a class in action and a closer look at playtime, story time, lunchtime and home time; there are examples of different kinds of schools, from primary and secondary to forest school and flight school – and even puppy school.
But alongside these reassurances, there remains the question WHY. WHY do I have to go to school? And that’s where the exciting part begins. In the soon-to-be familiar, supportive setting of school, our children can embark on a journey into UNFAMILIAR territory, learning new things about the world – and about themselves. Education is their launchpad into the future, providing them with the skills they need to make their own choices in life.
There are days when my now-teenage son still asks why he has to go to school. Persuading him that GCSEs are worth revising for is an uphill battle at times, but I stick with the advice I offer in this flap book for 3+ year olds.
“The more you learn, the more things you’ll be able to do.”
If a little person in your life is soon to start school, there’s a lovely array of Usborne books that can help prepare the way, from sticker books and activity books to this Very First Questions and Answers flap book. It’s a daunting time for many… but if you can feel positive and excited about your child’s future, your child is likely to feel positive too.