Coming out in June 2023, but available to pre-order right now, is my new book called Starting School. It’s the first book I have written for children and it has been illustrated by the brilliant Mackinzie Rekers. It is a modern day guide for little ones who are about to embark on the adventure that is starting school. I wanted to write a starting school book because as someone who has worked in early years and reception classes I know what it is like to be on the school side, but as a parent to two children who have both successfully started school twice (we moved schools 2 years ago) I know what it’s like to have a child who’s about to begin too. Also, I found that when I read starting school books to my own children many of them seemed very cute and lovely but not at all reflective of a modern primary school. There seemed to be lots of chalkboards (non-existent in schools I worked in!) and apples on teachers desks. Old school indeed.
My first book for the KIDS! Starting School - out June 2023
So with my own book I wanted to write about genuine experiences the children might have in settings that will hopefully feel very familiar to them when they walk into the classroom for the first time having read this book. I wanted there to be space in the book for discussion and prompts for chats that encourage the readers to talk about their own school, expectations, worries, and feelings. It’s specifically designed to walk you through all the confusing elements in a fun and reassuring way. Hopefully the children will feel like they really understand what school is for and what it’s going to be like, and feel excited to begin.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a Five Minute Mum book without some games in it! Throughout the book there are little sections called TAKE FIVE which are mini activities to try. Some are just counting or spotting things on the page and others you can take out of the book and quickly set up at home to play. If you wanted to you could read the book daily and do one page at a time with your child in the month leading up to them starting school. Perhaps really take your time reading the page and looking at all of the lovely pictures by Mackinzie, then doing the activity together and have a chat about whatever subject has been covered. There is everything in there from what’s in a classroom, to who are all the grown ups around school, to how to make friends, to how the days of the week work, a bit about breakfast and after school clubs, and how to do a body scan to see how you’re feeling. I’ve tried to cover it all, so that if all you do in preparation to starting school is read this book together then you can feel confident that it’s absolutely enough.
It isn’t a story as such but the idea behind it is that there are 5 characters you are introduced to at the beginning who all started school last year and they are talking you through their experiences. We all know how much children look up to older children so hopefully these beautifully drawn characters will feel like friends for your child who will walk them through it bit by bit. There is also a little Five Minute Mole called Maurice who pops up throughout. He loves finding things, and he’s one to look out for on each page to see what he’s collected at the end.
The book is out in June which is plenty of time for those who get it to read it lots of times before school begins this year. It also works as a brilliant prompt for discussions after they’ve started. You could pick it up together and compare what’s the same and what is different and if you are struggling to get you child to tell you anything about their day then it could be a great way to ask questions and open up conversations. My daughter is now 6 and has been at school for 3 years and still really enjoyed flicking through it with me, and pointing out the things she recognised from school and how it compared to her day.
The book is also dedicated to someone very special. Since I first started Five Minute Mum I get sent hundreds of photos of children playing my games which always makes my heart sing. One day I spotted Zoe, along with a message from her mum Carmel explaining she was very poorly but loving playing my games as she went in and out of hospital. It especially meant a lot to me, because as a child my brother and I had a good friend called Sam who lived on our road. Sam had leukaemia and despite a very long, brave battle throughout our childhood, he died aged 9. The photo of Zoe immediately reminded me of Sam and those years spend playing with him as he repeatedly lost his hair and went through surgeries and treatments.
I started following Carmel as she shared Zoe’s journey. Zoe was such a beautiful spirit. She loved fairies and rainbows and singing, and so much more. She would have been brilliant friends with my Florence had they ever met. Zoe died on 1st July 2020, and I along with many other sobbed as Carmel shared her incredible little girl’s final moments, listening and wishing SO much the outcome had been different.
So this book is dedicated to Zoe (she’s in there playing too!) and all the other children like Sam who have been taken so many years before their time, and also to those who are unable to start school like they would wish to because they are having treatment in hospital. I want them to still feel seen too, and I will be donating some of the profits from this book to children’s cancer charities.
There are some sample pages and a bit more information about the book on the Amazon page HERE and I will be sharing lots of things about it on my social media over the next few months if you’re still deciding if it’s for you. If you are wondering about tips for school starters then everything can be found HERE on my website including ways to help prepare your little ones and yourselves and what to do next once they’ve started! But if you have order this book then thank you so much. I really hope you enjoy reading it as much as I have enjoyed writing it!