Years and years ago (in 1925!) Hurlock conducted an experiment on children in America. She took four groups of children and gave them a test of addition. Initially all four groups reached around the same score.
The first group were praised for performance.
The second group were reproved for the mistakes they had made.
The third group were ignored – even through they heard the praise and reproof meted out to the others.
The fourth group were taken out of the class room.
The children were retested after a period.
The praised group had a mean of 20.
The reproved group reached a mean of 14.
The ignored group stayed the same at 12.
The control group reached a mean of 11.
The children who were criticised had a decline in their test scores – until their marks dropped back.
Parents working with their children at home could consider these results. Children need praise when it is due. Praise is not necessarily saying: “Of course you will pass!”
If you help your child to be realistic about progress towards the eleven plus then it is likely that the level of aspiration will about equal the possibilities. If your child has experienced considerable failure – then he or she could develop a much lower level of aspiration. If the goals were too high then your child may aim much lower – as a form of self protection against failure.
The occasional failure can not be bad for your child. If the failure is part of a long chain of failures you may find that your child attitude to study and work will be affected.
“We have reached 85% and above on these papers over the last three weeks. 56% is simply not good enough.”
“Why can’t you achieve more than 56%? You know you can do it. Just try harder. I told you yesterday that you needed to do better today.”
There must be some support of the idea that a child needs to be mildly anxious at the eleven plus stage. Too much anxiety, however, could inhibit progress.
It does seem likely, but this has yet to be proven, that when a parent becomes too anxious about the eleven plus examinations, then his or her child may suffer.