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Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Sweet Music of the Eleven Plus

It would take a very special kind of child who could walk out onto a stage and give a concert without doing a lot of practice.

Preparing for the Eleven Plus examinations is like learning to play a musical instrument.

Your child can attend master classes in musical theory and learn all about the length and pitch of a note. Your child could learn to distinguish the power of a semibreve – and be fully conversant with the fact that a semibreve is the longest note – and is twice as long as a minim.

You could sit night after night with an array of tuning forks – and try to develop your child’s perfect pitch.

You could conduct learned discussions on the range of notes in the piccolo and the tuba.

But your child could not walk out onto the stage and play a piano concerto if he or she had never heard or played one before. It takes considerable practice to be able to apply theory to practice. Your child could pass Grade 5 in theory but would still be unable to execute a trumpet fanfare with learning to play the trumpet.

So it is with the Eleven Plus. We all know and hear about some children who are so naturally gifted that they can pass an Eleven Plus examination with very little work. The rest of the children have to do some work.

Passing an examination is not about learning a few tips.

You are trying to help your child acquire the necessary study skills that will carry him or her through the SATs, GCSE and `A’ level examinations in the years ahead. Working towards the Eleven Plus does not’ however, need to rely on the drudgery of working through paper after paper.

You want your child to be able to appreciate and savour the journey. You want your child to be excited and interested in working towards the examinations.

At the end of all your hard work you want your child to be up there on the stage receiving the congratulations of the teachers and fellow pupils because he or she has passed the Eleven Plus. You want to feel good about yourself too.

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