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Thursday, May 17, 2007

Fitting Every Thing In

One of the problems we have as teachers and parents is that children who are well developed in some abilities are likely to be well developed in others as well.

It is likely that an intelligent child will have spoken early, read early and is emotionally well adjusted. Perhaps most important of all, the able child is likely to be popular with his or her peers. Naturally all these attributes can not be true all of the time. The intelligent child may, at times, become less popular with certain class mates.

The popularity may ebb or flow through performance on the football field or even gaining a part in a West End show.

We had a very bright Eleven Plus candidate some time ago who attended lessons on a weekly basis because she had a part in a West End musical. The rehearsals and performances were manageable - even though the girl continued with full time education. The problem was the travelling time. It was not just the child’s travelling time but her parents had to put time into going into London by train, waiting for the performance and then travelling home. Eventually some of the girls at school began to make remarks. The Head Teacher warned the parents how they were possibly jeopardising potential eleven plus examination results.

This was a case where the parents wanted extra lessons because they wanted some form of continuity in the progression of the lessons. Rehearsal times changed in the early days. The days that the girl was able to attend classes changed too because of performance times. She needed a personalised plan that could follow her changes of circumstance.

The girl and her parents made it a pact never to talk about the eleven plus on their way to London, in the theatre and when travelling back. This was very sensible because it gave the ten year old the ability to concentrate on the task in hand. She had about eight songs to sing and dance, but she only had one speaking line.

There is time for an able child approaching the eleven plus examination to be able to play sport and take part in other activities. There will be time for Grade 2 piano lessons and being a member of a cricket team.

Children who are able to reach the heights in activities outside of the eleven plus preparation are probably more likely to be able to `fit it all in”.

I met a dad last Saturday who was in the process of `fitting in’ a dance lesson, eleven plus work and then a visit to grandparents. All in one morning. We need to congratulate the dad on his stamina – never mind his daughter!

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