The 11 Plus Fear Factor!

April 13, 2014 § Leave a comment

The Eleven Plus – a term that strikes fear into the hearts of parents across the country! In the business I am in, every day is made up of phone calls from parents looking for guidance, advice and reassurance that they are doing the right thing.

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At the end of the day, there is no single “right way” of doing things; every child is different and requires a different approach to learning. Some children pick it all up “just like that”, while others need a slow and gradual approach to make sure it all sinks in. So, having a parent call, reel off their entire 11 plus revision schedule for the past year and ask you if they are doing the right thing, having only spoken to them once and never having actually met their child, is easier said than done!

But, of course, having seen hundreds of parents go through this every year has given some insight into the “krypton factor” of 11 plus success. And the keys, really, are:

  • Start revision early enough to avoid panic, but not so early that they get fed up with it!
  • Practice makes perfect, so make sure they get plenty of practice in all the subject areas covered in the exams you are entering for. But, don’t overload them – they are only 9 or 10, after all.
  • Don’t push your children to be something they are not. If they are not cut out for grammar school, it is not fair to push them into it. Even if they pass, this is no guarantee of success in the high-pressure world of grammar school.
  • Don’t let other parents worry you! The phrase “I’ve just found out Mrs So-and-So’s little boy has had a tutor since he was 8” is an all-too-common one! That is their choice, but it doesn’t mean to say that would have been the best option for your child.

Despite the efforts of the education authorities to make 11 plus exams “tutor-proof”, I do believe that tutoring still has a place in the 11 plus preparation process. The 11 plus exams have become more and more difficult and often contain topics that students may not have even learnt at school yet. Tutoring has the benefit of being able to cover all the elements required in an environment where they can get the support that they need from people who know the current methods of teaching.

I recently spoke to a parent who said that they had been going through the work at home, but had now got to the stage where they could no longer help with the questions. So, they decided to get a bit of help from a tuition company. I thought this was a very balanced way of dealing with things. Just because you haven’t had a tutor the whole time doesn’t mean that your child is going to fail! If they are bright enough and get the right help (whether it be from you or from someone else), they are on the right track.

I guess the point I am trying to get across is that the key to success is to find the balance. You’ve got to put the work in, but don’t let it take over your life!

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