Today was the last day of term and the long-awaited nativity play. In the stable, along with Milly’s frog, were a cat, a lizard and a rabbit. Not very traditional, but very sweet and the children all sang and spoke with great confidence. It never ceases to amaze me how much primary school teachers can get out of children who are so young. I am sure that the whole event did wonders for the self-esteem of the children taking part.

However, there was one incident that rather upset me. I may be hypersensitive about adults’ use of language when they talk to children, but I do think that our choice of words can have a long-lasting effect on children. Anyway, being a total keeny, I had arrived early and managed to get pole-position at the front of the church. The children filed in and sat in the two reserved rows in front of me. Then a teaching assistant came and sat next to a boy who, as far as I was aware, was behaving as well as all the other children. I heard her (in a rather threatening tone) say; “Now, George, you make sure you sit still and behave. I will not have you spoiling this for Mum and Dad, do you hear me?”

As I say, I was sitting directly behind him and hadn’t noticed him doing anything untoward. How hard would it have been for her to say something like; “Heh, George, you’re sitting really nicely right now. Mum and Dad will be so proud of you when you carry on behaving so beautifully.”

I suspect that this would have had the effect she desired, with the additional bonus of making George feel positive, enjoy the experience of performing and more likely to behave well in the future.