There is a small group of men and women at this very moment who are feeling very smug. They are the chief executives of the toy manufacturers who have just set the Christmas production targets. They are feeling happy and secure because they hope that the marketing and promotion elements will have created such a demand for their products that they will be able to reach all sales targets.
We know that there are a select few `must have’ Christmas presents. We know that the factories will not produce enough to be able to satisfy the demand. We know that the toy buyers will not have placed enough orders. We know that warehouses will not be stocked with sufficient toys to be able to satisfy the needs of all the children.
Parents can not always be quite sure what makes a one toy into a dead cert for a top Christmas ratings. We know the parents who buy toys in the January sales for next Christmas are likely to be able to disappoint their children in the most spectacular fashion. Telephone and DVD manufacturers have, however, had it easy for past year as they have appeared on the Christmas wish list of every ten year old.
Revision for examinations works much the same way. We have no way of knowing what will be on the pages of the final eleven plus examinations. We can have practised elements of the examination through the medium of different exercises taken from different sources. We know that working in short bursts is often less boring than struggling with eleven plus papers. We also know that our children must do full papers in moderation as the examination approaches. “You can not pass a marathon examination by practising in sprints. You have to put the miles in.”
So how are we going to ensure that we have guided our children to do just the right amount of work?
1. Work backwards from the examination. Work out when you are going to do the full papers in the build up to the examination. We heard of girl who does a full verbal reasoning paper and a full non verbal reasoning paper every night. I wonder if at some stage she will feel some element of test fatigue.
2. Try to build in a little rest before the examination. Perhaps a weekend away? If you can not take the children you could always rationalise a break for yourself!
3. Change the type of papers you are working on. If you know that your child is going to be writing a multiple choice NFER test then try a complete change of paper to relieve potential boredom and stress.
4. Involve the family in mind games. This is not the mind games directed towards a suspect but the mind games that would encourage your child to show animation and interest. Remember that being `cool’ is vital to any self respecting ten year old. Try to find a series of stimulating and interesting games directed towards solving problems.
5. Continue with exercises on timing. Encourage the wearing and the use of a watch. As Lewis Hamilton, the rising Formula One star, prepares for his appearance on the rostrum after gaining more Formula One points he is shown strapping on his watch. We presume he is paid to do that – so negotiate some form of inducement with your child.
So as you prepare for this Christmas put yourself in the shoes of a toy buyer. Create a demand for work. Do not allow your child to do too much work. Allow for production breaks over key periods. Reward yourself excessively if you meet your targets.