During the pre Eleven Plus year parents learn to communicate with each in new and varied ways. Children have to accept that, at times, `mum knows best’. Children also need to learn that they have to talk to their parents – and during the conversation offer opinions and ideas. Both parties will need richer and more complex language skills.
Most of us will have watched animal programs on T.V. and will have seen powerful relationships developing between mothers of some animals and their young. We have seen, for example, apes communicating with each other. However close the links between animal parents and their offspring, an animal can not pass the Eleven Plus because an animal does not have the ability to develop language.
In humans some language is located in the left hemisphere of the brain. There are, as we know, sex differences between girls and boys. Girls appear to have better verbal ability than boys. Boys appear to better than some girls at mathematical and spatial tasks.
“Go and ask your father,” will work for some eleven plus exercises.
It is likely, however, that the mother of the family will appear to answer some eleven plus questions using a greater range of words and employ much longer sentences. There could possibly be an element of truth in the assertion made by some eleven plus children that dad will be more likely to interrupt while mum will allow their child to finish sentences. I wonder too if a mother will allow more time to listen? (Only a thought!)
During eleven plus exercises some parents and children may have to learn to take turns in listening to each other. When parents are looking at an eleven plus question with their child their joint attention is focused on one topic. As all the parties talk through the problem or process, all concerned may have to use richer and more complex language than in normally used in a typical family setting. Clearly all the family can not talk at the some time. Clearly too the eleven plus child will need to pay attention when spoken to. The child has to co-operate.
As the examinations grow closer parents and their children will have developed new and varied ways of solving problems and talking to each other. It does seem likely that new boundaries of social interaction will develop. A possible benefit of Eleven Plus preparation is a close and supportive family.