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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Happy Eleven Plus Thoughts

Wonder of wonders! I have met a truly happy child working towards the eleven plus. He smiled through the lesson, contributed to the discussion with his parents after the lesson and left with the words: “See you next week!”

I remember reading about Margaret Mead’s work as a young student. She went to Samoa to observe young people. She had noted that young adolescents in America were often full of anxiety and anger. She lived in Samoa so that she could study the youngsters as they progressed form childhood into adolescence. She found that there was remarkably little emotional distress or confusion. I wonder if it was because the children living in Samoa did not have to work towards the eleven plus examinations!

I see many parents with a positive attitude to their children. They are positive about school, the teachers the head teacher and the whole school environment. They are not concerned about the `ranking’ of the school. They simply really hope that their child will be happy at school. They accept that the teachers are doing the best they can. These parents would not dream of running the school down in front of their children.

There are people who do believe that everything they have done in their lives has made them the person that they are. They would like their children to grow up just the same way – if possible. These are mothers and fathers who try to put a positive spin on life and study. They accept their children for what they are – warts and all! These are parents who do not blame the school for everything that has gone wrong in their child’s life.

Some parents do make a point of trying to encourage their children to lighten up. They insist that their children do not take the eleven plus examinations too seriously. I heard a mother this morning say: “Even if he does not pass the eleven plus it does not matter. There are two or three other good schools around.”

It will help your children if you can find some happy positive friends for them. Every parent fears that their children will make friends with undesirables. It may mean that you will need to make a big effort to help your child cultivate new friends. But pleasant children should have pleasant parents – so who knows!

We all know how important it is to keep healthy with good food, exercise and a well balanced life. These elements give your ten year old an advantage over other children. It is essential too that children have good breaks and holidays.

This brings us back to Margaret Mead. The very next time your child looks peaky or run down why not book a trip to Samoa? There your child will be able to see other happy smiling children. A refreshing two weeks lying on the beach and sipping a succession of cool drinks may be good for you too.

The Samoans, and any visitors, drink Kava. I understand that it is vitally important for any visitors to drink vast quantities of Kava because it promotes cheery thoughts along with slightly a numb feeling. We all know that cheery thoughts and a numb feeling are essential ingredients of an eleven plus diet.

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