How parents can help their children succeed at 11-plus
One or two hours a week with a tutor is generally not enough to get your child through the 11-plus, especially in the most competitive of schools. Working with your child can help them towards their goals and make the process more enjoyable. Many parents don’t think they have the skills or the time to be able to support their children, but all parents can help in some way.
Some ways parents can get involved:
Review your child’s work
Go through the corrections that the tutor or their school has made on their work. Do this with your child so that it reinforces what they have been taught in their lessons. Make a note of misspelt words so that you can help them to learn correct spellings. Write down any new words that have come up in a lesson that they might not have had time to learn and write down.
Developing a broad vocabulary is key to 11-plus success. Keep adding words to your child’s dictionary (a notebook for new words), especially ones you come across while reading, watching television programmes or doing VR tests and English comprehensions.
Make or buy flash cards so that you can test your child on the meanings of the words. You can make this into a game and get the child to help make them and to test you on the meanings too.
Reading to your child
Children love being read to. If you do not have time for anything else, reading is the key to developing your child’s comprehension (and writing skills). You do not have to read whole books. You could simply choose an extract from a book to read together. You can then analyse the language and vocabulary in the piece – looking up all new and unfamiliar words and adding them to their dictionary.
Writing with your child
In the initial stages they may lack confidence to write a story. Sit with your child when they write and each few sentences ask them to close their eyes and describe what they can see, smell, feel and hear next in their story. This helps them to find ideas for the next few sentences and to develop a descriptive piece using all their senses.
Talk to your child
Discuss news topics with your children in an age-appropriate way. This will keep your child up-to-date with what is going on in the world, help develop their general knowledge, and build a foundation for discussion essays. An idea would be to sit with them and write the advantages and disadvantages of something controversial in the local community e.g. the closure of a local swimming pool, the opening of cycle lanes, the new school roads e.t.c. This will help them with their persuasive writing and article writing.
Check their times tables
Check that your child has solid times tables skills. Test them again and again. They need to be able to work swiftly and accurately through a maths paper and if they do not really know their times tables inside out and back to front, they will falter. Children tell you they know their times tables but make sure that they do know them by testing them.
Sit with your child while they work.
The 11-plus journey can be a lonely one for a child who is sat in their room doing homework, revision and papers on their own. Sitting with your child every now and again as they work, even if you are doing your own work or reading beside them, will make them feel less alone. Make sure you are clear on where their tutor wants your child to be independent and where you can help.
Encourage them to show working out
Although there are no marks awarded for working out (in Grammar school exams) it is important for your child to be able to spot their own mistakes. As many math and verbal reasoning questions involve more than one step, having clear working out will help your child to not only process the information but also spot any errors in their calculations.
And finally, whatever you do remember to praise your child each step of the way. Don’t put too much pressure on them and do everything in your power to keep your child happy and relaxed during the whole process. In particular do not to let your stress rub off on them.