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Thursday, May 22, 2008

Exciting Eleven Plus Work

Tsoro is a game played in Zimbabwe – and indeed all over Africa – under a variety of names.

Start with a section of a log. Hollow out thirty two holes – in four rows of eight. Two rows for you and two for your opponent. Place two stones in each of the holes. Pick up two stones. Place one in the next hole and one in the next. Then pick up the three stones and place one in one hole, one in the next and pick up all three of the rest. When you stones come to rest against an opponent’s pattern you capture his or her stones.

It is possible for an eleven year old to beat a highly experienced Tsoro player. It is all to do with seeing relationships and planning ahead. The noise comes from the spectators and the advice that is offered freely. The excitement develops as all concerned become aware that one or another is winning. The praise is high and lavish – especially when the eleven year old beats the venerable Tsoro master.

Backgammon, which can also be played to a good level by children, probably came from the Roman two-row game. The introduction of the dice brought both chance and skill into play.

And then there is Monopoly – invented over a hundred years ago by a Quaker. Play a spirited game of monopoly against your eleven year old – and a true competitive spirit will emerge.

It is possible that games are as old as mankind. It is possible too that games bring out deep and multilayered rivalry.

If only you could harness that will to win when you are working together on Eleven Plus exercises. Take a deep and long look at the animation on your child’s face while he or she is playing a board game. Capture the moment. Pray that the same energy is displayed when your child is working through a paper. Think of your reactions to your child winning. Think of your pride. Try to carry that through to tackling an Eleven Plus paper together. If both of you approach the eleven plus work excited and aware, then you will share a memorable moment.

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