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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Motivation and the Eleven Plus

Our Eleven Plus children need to be motivated when they enter the examination rooms.

Parents have the ability to be great motivators. Every parents can play the `carrot and the stick’ game or the `good cop bad cop’ game. Parents do not need to be taught how to give with one hand and take with the other – it just comes naturally.

“If you stop hitting Father Christmas you can have the chocolate.”

“Yes we can go for a swim if you complete the reasoning paper.”

So how are you going to motivate your child on the day of the examination? You want to be cool and not smother your child. You don’t want your poor child to suffer the indignity of other children seeing you weeping inconsolably on the head teacher’s shoulder.

Winston Churchill gave great speeches during the Second World War. “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few,” springs to mind. Football managers must also give great speeches at half time. “Right, Wanderers, we might be five down at this stage of the season but you have to fight!”

You won’t actually be sitting in the examination room with your child. You can, however, educate your child as to what is going to happen in the examination.

Explain how the nervous system will collect information from all over the body. Explain that in the examination room your child will be using all of the senses. Demonstrate how adjusting the centre of gravity will affect how comfortably your child sits on a chair. Convince your child of the necessity of sitting comfortably during the examination. The old words: “Sit up straight and keep your elbows off the table,” may be more useful than slumping all over the table.

Explain how little noises in the examination will appear to be magnified. It might sound as if a herd of elephants is stamping on a pile of newspapers while in fact the noise may only be one child who has dropped a paper onto the floor.

Talk about the necessity to taste the wood at the end of the pencil before the examination. If your child suddenly, for no apparent reason, starts chewing the end of the pencil then he or she may be exposed to a bitter and unpalatable taste. So add chewable pencils to the `List of Things to Do’.

Talk about smell. Explain how the smell of a room can vary if there are many anxious humans pumping out fear.

Finally talk about time. I have chatted during the course of lessons to some of our very able children who have already sat Eleven Plus examinations. Without exception they have talked about time. Very few talk about finishing too early. Very few say they ran out of time and did not finish the paper. All that can happen is that when the children hear those dreaded words: “Ten minutes to go!” it is likely that some children will rush their final answers.

So your final words could include: “Sit up straight, don’t fiddle, don’t eat your hair and look at your watch.” Of course you could add: “Good Luck!”

As you child turns his or her back and walks away you could whisper very quietly: “If you pass I will give you a …… “

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