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Saturday, August 02, 2008

Eleven Plus Anxiety

We meet children, every now and again, who are really anxious about taking a test, meeting strange teachers and the unexpected. It must be quite `normal’ for most children to feel anxious about the Eleven Plus examinations.

There is a lot riding on passing:

Gaining access to a desirable school
The promise of a good education
Meeting and making like minded friends
Enjoying an atmosphere where is it acceptable to be bright
The chance of being able to go to a `good’ university
The hope that one day a good job will emerge.

I suppose we all need to understand just what the children are worried about. We also need to appreciate just how real the concerns are. It also helps some children to realise that there are some other children who feel the same way.

How can we build confidence?

Help your child to learn that while it is important to be able to keep up – it is not essential to keep up with everyone.

Structure the day so that there is time to do the extra work involved in passing an examination. A round of activities and clubs will not leave enough time for study and contemplation.

Help your child to understand what is in the examination. Go over the language that will be used in the instructions on how to do the test.

Do lots of work on meeting deadlines – especially with practice papers.

Build timing into the daily life of the family. “How time flies when you are having fun,” is true. “How time flies in an examination,” is equally apposite. Help your child to wear and use a watch! (I recently met a mother who talked about her child and problems with timing. She did not wear a watch and neither did her child. This is fine for daily life – but not in a pressured examination situation.)

Try to reason with your child about what needs to be done immediately and what can wait.

Develop a climate of confidence where parents and Eleven Plus children feel that they can speak freely about worries and perceived anxiety.

Try not to believe and hope that it will: “Be all right on the day.” Your child may not believe you.

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