With such a long way to go before the exam it’s easy to become a little complacent with your child’s tuition preparation but a little bit of planning and honesty can go a very long way. The 11 plus exam will likely be your child’s first experience in revising, studying and being critiqued on their progress and so a number of factors must be realized and practiced well in advance.
Here are five tips from our tutors and study findings that will both get you on the right path and springboard your child from an 11 plus amateur to CEM connoisseur.
1. Spend a little time each day reading with your child
Word definitions, comprehension and verbal reasoning are key factors in the 11 plus combining to comprise a significant weighting in the exam. Luckily your child will naturally develop their reading and comprehension skills with practice and repetition.
Between the ages of 9 – 11 children are now able to read texts with minimal illustrations as they are able to visualise the plot in their mind. By doing so they are reading about unfamiliar content, settings and characters, and become increasingly confident with unusual vocabulary. But these goals can only be measured when children sit down to read and will do considerably better when reading with or to a parent.
In fact, a recent brain scan study found that reading at home with children from an early age was strongly correlated with brain activation in areas connected with visual imagery and understanding the meaning of language, both key components when assimilating definitions and reading unfamiliar topics.
2. Make a diary/timetable for your child’s 11 plus studies
Whether studying for the CEM, independent schools, or both, homework and dedication to studying will become more demanding as your child progresses through the course material at Newell Tuition. By keeping a timetable that outlines when your child should be sitting down to complete their homework and logging how long it takes will give them a structure to their studies and encourage good timekeeping and organizational skills. Homework can be completed throughout the week, either all in one day or, if your child finds it hard to concentrate for an extended period, splitting the work across multiple days.
Allowing your child to design their own timetable under your guidance helps them take control of their own education. Children are motivated when they feel like their actions are their own choices and this is important to remember as the 11 plus is much more likely to be your choice rather than their own!
However, your child’s timetable is only effective when it applies to you too! Finding time in your day to collaborate with your child and their homework will increase their confidence in explaining their problems to their tutors and will help you stay on the same page when it comes to their progress in tuition.
3. Set small goals to work towards each week
Setting small goals and accomplishing them (learning timetables, spelling new words, etc.) or identifying three strengths to celebrate can do wonders for your child’s self-esteem and progression. Initiatives and positive reinforcement for good effort and achieving their aims can encourage your child so that even if they struggle or find it a chore to begin with, they know they’ll be given a small reward afterward. Being open and honest about the exam process and being realistic about the expectations for their attitude and performance can relieve them of any added pressure they may already be putting on themselves!
4. Talk and listen to your tutor
Your tutor will have both the experience and know-how to tackle problems and issues in all areas of the 11 plus. They can help advise on what early revision your child should be doing and can help identify early weakness signs that will need attention as well as putting you in the direction for any extra resources your child may need to develop their 11 plus studies.
A short chat at the start of the lesson about how your child found their homework and where they struggled in will be immensely useful in the lesson and your tutor will be able to relay feedback from the lesson detailing any development or struggles they may have had. Keeping an open dialogue with both your tutor and child will help keep everyone on the same page and know what they need to work towards in the short and long term.
5. Stay calm and carry on
It’s important to keep a positive mentality and to encourage steady and methodical practice with your child and to avoid associating negative emotions or punishment with poor results in homework or test results. This also goes for promising extravagant rewards if your child passes their exam as it creates an extrinsic motivation when they really should want to be motivated by the idea of success and fulfillment! Managing your child’s emotions when it comes to stress and mental wellbeing is extremely important and the best practice is to know their limits and taper their expectations to a realistic standard.