At this time of year, lots of boys and girls are spending their last days or weeks at pre-school or nursery, before they head off to "Big School" in September. So, this story felt appropriate! You can listen to this week's story as a podcast by clicking here.
Tilly's Last Day At Nursery
Tilly was quiet all the way to nursery school. She clung tightly to her mother's hand, as if afraid to let go. Finally, when they reached the nursery, Tilly stopped in her tracks. It was her last day there, before the Summer holidays and she had a lot on her mind. "Mum?" She asked, in a very small voice. "Do I have to go to big school in September?"
Her mum bent down close to Tilly's sad little face. "I'm sure you'll like it when you get there," she promised.
Tilly folded her arms tight across her chest. "No, I won't," she insisted. "They don't have toys like we have at nursery. And the teacher can't look after you like the ladies at nursery do. And the teacher probably doesn't do funny voices when she reads a story to the class. And what if I don't like the person they make me sit next to?!" Her big, blue eyes began to fill with tears. "I don't want today to be my last day at nursery school. I want to stay there forever!"
When they walked into the nursery, Mum spoke to one of the ladies who looked after Tilly. She spoke in a quiet voice and Tilly couldn't quite make out what she was saying. Tilly wasn't sure she was in the mood to go off and play, but she bravely kissed her mum goodbye and went to do just that. It was her last chance, after all.
A little while later, one of the nursery ladies came over to Tilly. Her name was Chloe and she was Tilly's favourite, because she gave the best cuddles and let the children play with her hair. "I've got to go to the school to do a special job," Chloe explained. "I was wondering if you could come with me?"
Tilly's heart skipped a beat. She didn't know what to say - she was excited to be doing something special, but at the same time, she really wasn't sure about going to the big school... She swallowed hard. "Okay."
Chloe held Tilly's hand as they walked into the school. It really was much bigger than nursery and there was a funny smell about it. They walked down a long corridor, until they reached the reception class - the very class Tilly would be starting in after the Summer holidays. "We have to hand these letters to the teacher, for her to give out to her class, okay?" Chloe explained, showing Tilly a handful of letters. Tilly nodded silently. She held her breath as Chloe pushed open the door and they went inside.
As soon as she stepped through the door, Tilly's breath came back out in a whoosh. The children in the class were playing. And not just with the same kind of little toys that Tilly played with at nursery, but with all kinds of things! There was a big, interactive white board in the middle of the class, on which two boys were playing a game. Another group of children were playing with remote controlled toys. There were children painting, children cutting and children playing board games. Tilly could hardly believe her eyes!
"You've come at a perfect time," a voice said, suddenly. Tilly looked up to see a friendly looking lady. She recognised her from a visit the nursery had taken to the school a few weeks ago. She was going to be Tilly's new teacher, Miss Monroe.
"What time is it?" Tilly asked, frowning.
"Free-play time," Miss Monroe grinned. "We have some time every day, where the children can play with toys, or do some painting, or just have a little break from working too hard."
Tilly beamed. "We have free-play time at nursery, too!"
Before Miss Monroe could reply, one of the boys in the class came dashing over to show her something. "Miss? I cut my finger on some scissors!"
"Oh dear," Miss Monroe sighed. She gave the boy's shoulders a squeeze, the way that Chloe did if Tilly fell over at nursery. "Run it under a cold tap and I'll get Mr Johnson to help you make sure it's clean, so he put a plaster on if you need one."
"Who's Mr Johnson?" Tilly asked, as the boy darted off to the sink.
"He's my Teaching Assistant," Miss Monroe smiled. She gestured over to a young man, who looked like he might be the same age as Tilly's cousin Henry. Tilly liked Henry - he was eighteen and he'd taught her to play football. Mr Johnson waved at her as he went to help the little boy. Tilly shyly waved back. "Mr Johnson does the most amazing voices when he reads stories to the class," Miss Monroe smiled. "He's really good at different accents. He makes all the children laugh!"
Tilly grinned. "I like it when the ladies do funny voices in stories at nursery."
"Oh, well you'll love story time here, in that case!" Miss Monroe smiled. "What else do you like at nursery?"
Tilly thought for a second. "I like playing with my best friend, Hayley."
"Hayley?" Miss Monroe nodded to herself. "I'll make sure that I put Hayley next to you on your table, then."
"Really?!" Tilly exclaimed. "Oh, thank you!"
Chloe gave Miss Monroe the letters they'd come to deliver and all too soon, it was time to go back to nursery.
When Tilly got back, she couldn't help but notice how small everything seemed. And how the toys weren't quite as exciting as the ones at school.
After lunch, when Tilly's mum came to pick her up, she spoke in a quiet voice to Chloe. Tilly couldn't work out what they were saying to each other, but she saw her mum smile. Then her mum hugged Chloe and handed her a box of chocolates to share with the other ladies at nursery, to say thank you for looking after Tilly.
"Did you have a nice last day at nursery?" Mum asked, as she and Tilly made their way back home.
"Yes," Tilly replied. "But Mum, you'll never guess what?! I went to big school today and it was so exciting!"
"Really?" Her mum asked. "Tell me all about it."
Tilly grinned up at her. "Well, they have loads of really cool toys to play with, even better than the ones at nursery. And the teacher looks after you, just like the ladies at nursery do, plus she has a really nice helper who looks after everyone, too. And the helper does funny voices when he reads stories! And Miss Monroe says I can sit next to Hayley when we start in her class!"
Mum smiled. "So... You don't want to stay at nursery forever, anymore?"
Tilly pulled a face. "Don't be silly, Mum," she said. "I can't wait to go to big school!"
And with that, Tilly rushed ahead, with the sun beaming down on her and a big, happy smile on her face.