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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Empowerment and the Eleven Plus

One definition of the word `empowerment’ is having sufficient authority to be able to achieve results.

At the lowest level of empowerment your child will feel the need to involve you in any activity. This could be simply starting on an eleven plus paper or taking the dog for a walk in the garden. Your child will do all he or she can to involve you in the duty or task.

The next level up does not involve you so much. Your child will be able to do most of the work on his or her own – but will feel the need to consult before making a final decision.

At the third level of empowerment your child will be able to carry out the whole duty or task without involving you – and without consulting you. You will only be informed of the results afterwards. This is where your child disappears off to a quiet study area, does a paper, marks the paper and tells you about the results. (Bliss?)

The highest level of authority is where your child does all the work on his or her own. This would include all the eleven plus work for the day. You would only be told about the work if your child thought it was necessary.

Somehow, at one time or another, you and your child will go through each of these processes as you work together towards a common goal.

If you as a parent are experiencing too much of `Empowerment Situation One’ – where you have to be involved with every single step then you may need to educate your child as to what work can be done on his or her own. Naturally you may feel the need to fall back on careful planning and a strict timetable.

You may also feel that a ten year old working towards a competitive examination is not old enough to be able to make decisions about how the quality and quantity of eleven plus work.

So somewhere along the way there will need to be some degrees of compromise between all the parties. Essentially, however, your child does need to be able to feel empowered to make decisions. One recognisable step in the decision making could be allowing discretion over bed time. A very different step would be your child picking up the telephone and asking for help on a particular question.

I do not think that empowering a child is simply letting go. It must be preferable, however, to having to feel that you need to let rip at times.

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