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Sunday, June 29, 2008

Eleven Plus Balance

There must be a strong relationship between what your child has to learn for the Eleven Plus and your child’s self concept.

`Self Concept’ is to do with your child’s self image. Does your child feel that he or she is hard working and attentive during eleven plus work? As parents and teachers we have to try to build a realistic self image. If your child is feeling a little under pressure you are going to struggle to build a positive self image.

As well as trying to help your child build a positive self image you will also need to build your child’s self esteem. Esteem is to do with self evaluation.

If your child experiences failure, while working through eleven plus exercises, you will not be building a good self image. There is a real problem; however, that one child’s failure is possibly another child’s success. This is where parents have to be realistic in what they say while they are trying to motivate their child.

“I am so proud of you. You are trying so hard. We are making good progress.” Words like these could be music in the ears of one child – but serve to alienate another child.

Parents can possibly get caught up in hoping that a form of `self prophecy’ will catapult their child towards better marks in eleven plus preparation and, in time, towards passing the Eleven Plus. Your child may, however, make better strides towards examination success by working through a series of graded exercises than by a battery of exhortations. If expectations are too high, and demands too unrealistic, then you could be damaging your child’s self concept.

It must be easy for some children working towards a competitive examination to assimilate the anxiety of the parent. This in itself could inhibit learning.

It would also be easy for a minority of parents to use the `anxiety tool’ to try to motivate their child to want to study. After all fear of failure is a very strong emotion in most of us. Some children may feel fearful if they do not maintain consistently high marks on Eleven Plus papers. Other children may be fearful about the consequences of not passing the Eleven Plus.

Maintaining a balance between trying to build a child up and being realistic must be tricky for some parents. After all, no mother wants to labelled `pushy’. No father will want to fall into the category of being `an over anxious’ dad.

The mantra probably needs to be: “Just do the best you can, dear.”

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