## Wednesday, April 02, 2008

### Eleven Plus Problem Solving

Parents working on Eleven Plus papers are often faced with the problem of how to help their child to decide on the right answer – and hence to solve problems.

At one level it is easy to explain the problem in a form of continuous prose and then encourage your child to find the right solution. In other words you talk and talk – and hope your child is listening.

Using words will not always give the easy way of helping your child to solve a problem – for example:

Steven had new pair of football boots. He did not like the colour of the laces so he exchanged his new boots with William for a game boy. William and Henry had exchanged the game boy for Henry’s new trainers. Henry had obtained the new trainers from Arthur.

A different method of helping our Eleven Plus child to solve problems is to encourage trial and error or discovery. This is where you set your child an Eleven Plus problem and expect (or hope) that your child will work out the answer by `discovering’ the correct answer.

Here your Eleven Plus child may have to come up with a vast number of solutions before finding one to suit the problem. Boredom, frustration and an `unhelpful attitude’ may creep in.

There is also the risk that at incorrect solution may be presented as the correct answer simply to be able to move on. Children need to be aware of this when tying to look at the alternatives in multiple choice answers.

A third way is to set present a series of recipe type solutions. If your child follows certain steps then you a reasonably confident that he or she will solve the problem.

The great advantage here is that your child may not need to work through every single step of the recipe to be able to emerge with the correct answer.

What is the best ending?

A party always has (ice cream, paper hats, jelly, fancy dress, and people)

Does every party have ice cream? Yes / No.

Does every party have paper hats? Yes / No.

A fourth way is set up a decision table – where you ask a series of questions and then guide your child towards a solution.

Which two letters occur least often in the word DISINTERESTED?

Look at the first letter of the word. Is it in the word again?

Now look at the second letter – the letter `I’. Is there another `I’ in the word?

We move now to the letter `S’. Are there any more `S’s in the word?

Neither you nor your child can hope to solve all Eleven Plus problems by following rules. The easier the problem the more likely that words alone will help. More complex problems may have to use a combination of methods.