Ideally, you should start preparing your child around a year ahead. So if your 9-year old will take 11-Plus in January 2019, it’s now a great time to start helping them to develop the skills needed to take their exam with confidence.
It’s time to start your plan.
For English they’ll need to be able to write fluently, showing their ability in composition and comprehension, particularly in how they express their emotions. They’ll win marks for writing how they feel, rather than just a bare outline.
A good way to help them with this is to read a story together and then talk about it. Get them to talk about how it made them feel, what they thought was happening and what the characters were feeling. Good story telling = good marks.
In tandem with this, encourage them to understand punctuation and use it accurately. Make sure that they understand the role of the comma, the full stop and the apostrophe.
Yes, that last one is a challenge, even for many adults. Our tip is to invest in the Penguin Guide to Punctuation, which offers a straightforward description of most punctuation and how it should be used.
For Maths, find ways to help them to apply the basic concepts of adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing. Make daily recitation of a times table of your choice a means of getting a treat – whether this is something nice to eat or an extra 30 minutes on the tablet.
Then there’s the reasoning tests. They’re often the thing that trip children up on the exam day. If they’re not familiar with the concept, then seeing the problems to solve can cause panic.
You can’t teach them a concept, but you can get them to practise. Get one or two of the many books on sale on non-verbal reasoning. Show your child how the problems work and set them a problem a day to solve. You might want to promise a treat at the end of each month for sticking to their practice sessions. Whether this is a trip out or a small toy they want doesn’t matter, it’s just a motivation tool!
These are the kind of tests that are used to test IQ and while you can’t teach your child the answers, the more practice they get, the better they’ll be able to tackle the exam. It’s all about confidence, if they’re dealing with the familiar, there’s less likelihood of them panicking and being unable to complete their paper.
If your child is sitting their 11-Plus next term, there’s bound to be a certain amount of anxiety. At this late stage the best you can do is to reassure your child and encourage them to practise something every day.
Reciting their times tables, writing a story about their day (and with Christmas just over, there’s plenty of material to work with) and maybe practising their non-verbal reasoning for a short period daily, will reinforce their confidence.
TOP TIP: Get them to use pen and paper, not a tablet or laptop. The brain works differently (and more creatively) with a pen or pencil in hand than when using technological devices.
However anxious you are that they succeed, don’t let them see your anxiety. Be calm, reassuring and reinforce their belief that they will do well.