I was asked today, by a very pleasant and worried mother; `What is the best thing I can do to help my child as the 11+ examinations approach?’
It is difficult to pin just one label on 11+ preparation. Surely preparation implies more than just one activity. I suppose, however, that the one best activity to do is 11+ papers. The problem with doing papers is that sometimes the first few papers seem to show pleasing progress. It may then become difficult to maintain the momentum. If you do too many papers then some children will appear to be rather bored with the whole process. But this must surely be better than being disadvantaged by not doing any papers at all.
Part of the solution to this is to do parts of papers so that the children do not have to keep getting over the magic pass number. What then arises is: do you allow your child to choose the easy questions or do you work together through the hard questions? The obvious option is naturally to do a combination.
One thorny question that lingers in many parents’ minds is that of timing. Naturally you want your child to learn that an extra five minutes here or there can add marks to a final score. Where to find the extra minute or two may hard be to judge.
Why not read over a fresh paper together? Work out the hot spots. Discuss the timing of these areas. Your child should then take his or her watch off and lay it beside the paper. You must also take your watch off and help your child with the timing. Try to avoid looking at the questions while the two of you are sitting there. You are helping your child with timing - not marking the paper as your child goes along.
Talk about what the two of you have experienced and felt. Discuss possible solutions. Remind your child that the reasoning papers are to test reasoning - and it is very unlikely that there will be any tricky questions in the actual examination. Naturally you will say: `Leave out the hard ones. Come back to them later on - if you have time.’