Long, long ago when Archie was at pre-school there came a day when it was time to make that transition to big school. I had booked Archie into a school that said you could only attend if you turned five before the end of the year. Archie wouldn’t turn five until the January. The school then said that if I felt he was ready for school he could come in for an assessment.
I excitedly told Archie all about how he was going to spend a morning in the classroom at big school. ‘I don’t want to go’, said Archie.
‘But you’ll get to meet your teacher and be in the classroom and sit on the mat with the other boys and girls and…’
‘I want to stay at pre-school’.
‘You won’t want to be at pre-school next year, Archie, because none of your friends will be there. They’re all going to school’.
‘I don’t want to go to school’. He was always such an easy, compliant child.
‘Well we’ll just go for a little while’.
The day arrived. Off we went and there were five children being assessed that morning and we were all taken into the classroom where we met the very young but extremely capable effervescent and enthusiastic teacher. All the children being assessed were on their best behaviour except for Archie. The children were all being settled into the classroom by the teacher and her helpers and then she said to Archie with her hand outstretched, ‘Hello Archie, can I show you around my classroom?’
‘Oh, Archie’, I said, ‘This is your teacher and she’s being very nice so don’t be rude’. And all the other mothers with the well behaved children were honing in on what they hoped was going to be high drama.
‘Don’t come any closer’, said Archie to the poor teacher causing the bystanders to take a step closer.
‘Well how about if I just crouch down like this?’ And she squatted down so she was at Archie’s level.
‘Okay’, said Archie, ‘But no closer’.
The parents were all told to leave so the assessments could begin. I hoped Archie would behave himself.
We returned a few hours later and one by one given the outcome. Two were told their child wasn’t ready for school, two were told their children were ready for school and then there was Archie. ‘Unfortunately, due to a strong lack of co-operation, we have been unable to assess Archie. We’ve actually never had this situation before. Is he normally stubborn and non-compliant? Because we weren’t able to get him to do a thing. He just refused so it’s really difficult to know where he’s at. I’ve had a chat to the head of the department and we think it would be best if you could bring Archie in again, on a day when he can be assessed on his own and not with other children. Because what we noticed is that to get him to comply we’d have to give him 100% attention and it’s just not fair on the other children because they also need some attention. So how does that sound? Do you think you could bring him in again?’
I was so embarrassed especially with all the eaves-dropping mothers hovering around me gleaning wonderful information to share over that night’s dinner table.
‘Oh, I’m really sorry about that, he’s…’
‘We just couldn’t give him all the attention he seems to need’.
‘Well yes, I understand. Uhm, okay, another day. When would you like me to bring him back?
‘I’m not coming back’, yelled Archie.
‘Just be quiet’, I might have said fairly aggressively. (This is when I started thinking about boarding school).
‘What about the same time next week?’
‘Sure, yes, we’ll be here. So sorry about today. I’ll have a few words to him. Thanks for everything’, and off I scuttled with Archie running behind me.
I did have serious words to Archie and we did spend time at pre-school talking to his friends about them leaving soon to go to big school and it did seem that it finally dawned on Archie that he would be the only one left behind if he stayed on at pre-school.
The next week he was a different boy at his one-on-one assessment. He even let the very lovely teacher give him a hug and hold his hand. When I collected him at lunchtime she said he’d been a perfect child. He’d completed the assessment without any issue and she and her team were convinced he was ready to start school.
Archie was put in that teacher’s class for Kindy and for Year 1. She was one of his most favourite teachers and he adored her. But every now and then I used to remind him of the time he said, ‘Don’t come any closer’.
When Archie did start school I would pick him up in the afternoon with a few edible treats to help him survive the half-hour journey home. Home-baked biscuits were always popular. These almond biscuits are quick and easy to make.
Degree of Difficulty: 1/5
Cost: Next to nothing. Probably the only item to purchase is the blanched almonds for around $4.00.
- 125g (4 oz) butter
- 125g (4 oz) sugar
- Few drops almond essence (if you don’t like the almond flavour, you could use vanilla or coconut essence)
- 1 egg
- 175g (6oz) flour
- 1 tspn baking powder
- 20 blanched almonds
Pre-heat oven to 180C (375F)
Cream butter, sugar and essence until light and fluffy. Add egg and beat until well combined. Mix in sifted flour and baking powder. Roll into balls and place on baking paper on a baking tray. Place a blanched almond in the centre of each biscuit.
Bake for 15-20 minutes. Remove from oven. Leave on the tray for 5 minutes then place on a wire rack to cool. Transport to school for afternoon tea!
This recipe has been adapted from the Edmonds Cookery Book.
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