Every year, every class at my daughter’s primary school puts on one class assembly for the rest of the school. And parents get invited to watch. For many children, including my daughter, it’s a very exciting thing.
In the weeks running up to her assembly, my daughter speculated endlessly over what the assembly would be about and what parts everyone would play. Eventually, it was decided they would do their assembly about the English Civil War and her teacher set about writing a script. My daughter realised the part of a male farmer was going to be one of the main parts, so she decided to go for that one – and got it. She quickly learned her lines at home, making sure to inject just the right level of anger and passion for a farmer in support of the Parliamentarians.
And then thoughts turned to costumes… If I’d had a pound for every time she used the word ‘costume’ in the run-up to her assembly, I would have been a rich woman. Costumes weren’t provided, so we had to work something out at home. In our house, if a costume isn’t created from a white school shirt, a pair of school shorts and a grey baker boy hat I bought for my younger son for a costume in year 1, it isn’t happening. But apparently the school shorts were no good – she needed big baggy trousers that ended at the knee. And she needed a waistcoat, that we didn’t have. So she started searching for stuff online and I had to remind her I wasn’t paying £30 for a costume she’d only wear for a few minutes. Could Grandma make her something new, or maybe create something out of pair of the boys’ school trousers? In the end, she realised she could wear her dance trousers pulled up to the knees, so I backed down and bought her a waistcoat.
Alongside talk of the assembly, was talk of a times tables competition in her class that she kept winning. Apparently, she could write all the answers to the 2-10 times tables in a chart in two minutes – equalling her teacher’s time. She won the competition three times, but on the fourth time someone else won it and the teacher said they would have to have a final competition to decide who was going to do it. Do it where?Sometimes I feel I miss important parts of stories and I really didn’t know what the competition was for. She did them in 1 minute and 37 seconds, beating the other kid by 40 seconds. Did I mention that she’s competitive?
And so to the assembly… I arrived in the hall and took my seat at the back with the other parents – second row of course, I never manage front row. My daughter’s class were already lined up at the front on benches in various interpretations of civil war costume. My daughter was sat right at the front in the middle next to her best friend and wearing her waistcoat, dance trousers, baker boy cap and her brother’s school shirt.
Although the main focus of the assembly was on the civil war, like most assemblies, it was also a quick whizz through everything they’d been learning lately. So there was a little bit about the train timetables they’d been analysing in maths and they recited a poem and sang a couple of songs. Each new activity was introduced by one of the kids talking loudly and clearly, including my daughter.
Then the bit that took me by surprise. The bit that made this the best assembly ever. A boy stood up and said now they’d like the head teacher to stand up and take on my daughter in a times tables challenge. So THAT was what she’d been talking about! Two flip charts, one man in his 50s and one little girl in dance trousers and her brother’s school shirt, stood in front of over 400 people, doing their times tables as quickly as possible. I was SO proud. That was my daughter, in front of the whole school and all the parents from her class, and every single person in that room wanted her to win. Suddenly one of the mums shouted for her and the next second the whole school was chanting her name. She didn’t win, but she gave it a very good go. And you’d like to think a head teacher would be capable of beating a 10 year old, wouldn’t you?
Then it was on to the civil war. First, a scene with King Charles I and Oliver Cromwell and their men, then the farming scene. My daughter was at the table with her family, arguing about the king. She really acted her lines (most of the kids just said them, only one other acted it). Then there was a fight scene and it was all over. It was a very good play and I must say I learned a few things about the civil war.
It was a brilliant assembly and my daughter really did steal the show! At the end, the head teacher said the times tables competition showed more about his competitive nature than his maths skills. He said that, by the time she leaves in just over a year, he guarantees my daughter will be able to beat him!