1. Talk to your eleven plus child - discuss your expectations - and understand your child’s position. Discuss the rules of engagement - the time for study, homework, games, school, family and friends. Develop the point that `both sides’ are working within the framework of a family.
2. Listen to, and try to understand, your child’s teachers and tutors. If you hear the words: `Border Line’ interpret the words as such - do not think that this means your child will pass with flying colours. Be realistic about what your school can offer. Your child’s school has far wider and very different responsibilities to high marks on a test paper.
3. Make a point of your child maintaining relationships with friends. Do not allow the week to be so cluttered that friends have to be ignored `until the examination is over’. In any event your child’s best friend’s mother may know more about what your child is up to a school than you will ever need to know. But don’t ask the questions if you don’t want to hear the answers.
4. Both sides - parents and children - must understand that the nerves of both parties may be on edge. Tolerance is essential. Encourage your child to make allowances.
5. Avoid any discussion that may end with one side being the `winner’. It is just over one hundred years since England and France signed the `Entente Cordiale’ - bringing peace to both countries. Develop your own negotiating positions - and work within those bounds. Use the term `Entente Cordiale’ to set up a mediating framework.
6. Try to develop a dialogue about school. Discuss how you would like to hear after:
`How did it go at school today?’
`What did you learn that was new and interesting?’
Help to develop the three sentence answer to every question. (`Yes thank you because ….’, `And then I …’ and `I think …..’.
7. Work together to understand the concept of the generation gap. You and your child may have different values and aspirations. Look at the gap between you and your parents. Ask your parents how they, and you, resolved the gap.
8. Help all concerned in the household to understand the fears, anxieties and pressures - along with the ten year old’s desire and need for independence. Younger siblings must respect privacy and the need to be quiet. Older siblings must learn to curb the cutting remark. Grand parents must continue to be supportive and accepting.
9. Think seriously about food and exercise. If the day and the diet are not balanced then it becomes hard to study and prepare.
10. Devise policies on the rules of the house - the tidy bedroom, the help in the home, walking the dog, feeding the parrot. The ten year old must understand that he or she is part of the family and can not simply move from 11+ practice papers to lie on the couch with the remote control while asking for sustenance, use of the telephone and ignoring the pleas of the dog. He or she has to get up to let the dog out. Explain how this selfless humility may actually help in the examination.