“Suzanna can read already,” says the Mother. “She reads really well.”
The Teacher looks at the child with long blonde plaits hiding behind the Mother’s skirt. So far she’s refused to take off her coat or speak. This child is going to be hard work when she joins the class next week.
The Teacher forces a smile. There’s one final new pupil waiting to meet her in the corridor; a boy with curly hair who has squashed his nose against the glass door so he looks like a pig. Next term is going to be sooooo long. She snaps her attention back to the girl. “What do you like to read, Suzanna?”
“We brought her favourite book,” says the Mother.
Suzanna doesn’t say anything. She’s seen the pig-nose boy too and is sinking further into the bought-too-big-to-grow-into new school coat like whatever’s wrong with him might be catching.
The Mother takes a book from her bag and, surprisingly, Suzanna starts to read in a loud, clear voice.
The Teacher rolls her eyes before she can stop herself. Just because the child can parrot a story she’s heard ninety-thousand times, doesn’t mean she can actually read. “Would you like to read one of my books, Suzanna?”
Suzanna chooses a book with a fairy on the front. She sets into the story with great enthusiasm. Surely she hasn’t read this book before. The Teacher takes a book about a dog from her desk. “How about this one?”
Outside in the corridor the pig-nose boy is sliding off his chair onto his head but Suzanna is now engrossed in the new story. She actually can read really well for a four-year old.
“That’s very good,” smiles the Teacher. Already a plan is forming. “Maybe you could read to the class on Monday.” Suzanna doesn’t smile but she nods. This child could be a useful student after all.