After all the mayhem of getting ready for Christmas, getting through Christmas and entering the New Year, January's such a downer. A seriously depleted bank account, dreary weather and several extra pounds to carry around, it always takes a huge effort to be optimistic about the coming months. Still, my pot of daffodils has started to bloom and that reminded me that spring is just around the corner and actually there are lots of great things to look forward to.
For one, I now have half my consignment of books with the rest to come in a couple of days. I have drawn up this huge chart of who I am going to approach and when. Just have to get up the courage to knock on that first door.
Writing is such an exposing thing. Everything in the books came out of my head and the hope is that children will like them and enjoy using them.
The books are aimed at parents of pre-school children who are looking for something to help their children prepare for entry into primary school. I have designed the books so that children with a range of abilities can find enough material to practice their skills and have a lot of fun at the same time. The idea is that the children will view using the books as a game - children learn so much better and faster when they are playing.
I worked in a pre-school, held on Saturdays, for 17 years and the one thing that struck me is how widely children of the same age differ in ability and development. One 4 year old would be able to follow a dotted line very accurately and draw, paint and use a pair of scissors well and another of the same age would struggle to hold a crayon properly. When I looked for books that would give all the children enough scope to practice a particular skill, I found that most books for pre-schoolers provided a couple of pages on following dotted lines, a couple of pages on matching shapes, a couple of pages on colours. This was fine for those who had arrived at the stage where their hand-eye co-ordination was fairly well developed and they were beginning to understand shapes, forms etc. However, those who were still on their journey to that point were left high and dry needing a little more practice than was offered, just at the point at which they were beginning to understand what they had to do.
That was when I began designing the learning material myself, gearing the work to address each child's specific needs. Hard work but hugely enjoyable.
When it came to writing and illustrating my books, I made sure there was enough scope for children of differing abilities to practice the targeted skill. A story runs through each book to make the learning process more interesting. I chose five characters - a bee called Boo, a spider called Seb, a kitten called Kubby, a mouse called Muti and a ladybird called Loki - to accompany the children through the books to help keep them interested and engaged. Hopefully this will also make it interesting for the parents who have to guide their preschoolers through the books!
Chin up! Spring's coming!