In a happy occurrence that supported our continued efforts to teach our daughter about gender equality, she pretended to be British Astronaut Tim Peake this week.
This week’s school assembly has been in our calendars for a while. I wasn’t quite sure what the big deal was. A few weeks ago, the children in her reception class started coming out with lines they had to say. A few said they were playing aliens.
The theme of the assembly was space and aliens, a topic they had been discussing in class this term. I loved this as I had loved all things space since I was a kid, and it was another aspect of STEM we’ve always been keen to make sure our daughter knows isn’t just for boys.
I asked my daughter what she was doing. I wasn’t expecting much. In her nativity play, she was just a page to one of the kings with very little to do but carry something on a cushion. “Oh, I’m just answering some questions about being in space,” she said.
I was surprised, but happily so. Her confidence seems to have grown over the past few months. She recently addressed her class about how we need to help refugees (and we helped organise a donation from the reception classes).
We asked about what things she was going to be asked, and how she would answer. She kind of shrugged it off, fine with whatever was planned
So the day came. It turned out that this was her class hosting the assembly for not only the class parents, but the rest of reception, plus the rest of the junior school, as well as the older Year 6 – so all in all hundreds of people.
All the pupils were sat in a line, with our daughter near the end. Just before the assembly started, we noticed that our daughter was putting on an astronaut outfit (and was the only one dressed up), which we thought was cool.
So it all began, with the individual class members saying their lines in turn, with a break for fun a reenactment of the Aliens Love Underpants book (hence the few who were being aliens), with one of the boys doing a great job of narrating the story from a story map.
The proceedings eventually got to our daughter. The teacher announced “We now have a special guest – astronaut Tim Peake is going to answer some of our questions about living in space.”
Our daughter got up, grabbed a microphone (prop) and sat by herself on a platform at the front of the class – facing the hundreds of people by her self.
A handful of her classmates then asked her (Tim) about living in space – how you eat, how you get around, how you sleep, etc.
She answered every question with poise, confidence, and humour – and we were so proud of her. Nothing can really prepare you for facing hundreds of people staring at you, waiting on your every word. The pressure can easily overcome adults, let alone a 5-year-old who has never experienced that before.
She has had a brilliant first year at school, and this was the icing on the cake (so far – still another half term to go).
This photo is after the assembly. Entirely coincidentally, my wife was wearing her new NASA t-shirt (though Tim was an ESA astronaut).