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Friday, January 02, 2009

Eleven Plus Reading 31/12/08

Many Eleven Plus children will have been given books over the Christmas period. Parents, family and friends will have chosen books from bookshops, the internet, personal recommendation and sometimes nostalgia will have played a part.

Eleven Plus children need to read. Reading, however, is a means to an end and not an end in itself. It is important that the books a child reads are interesting and worth the effort of reading them. Children, however, could read book after book and never become exposed to a key word that could emerge in an eleven plus examination.

When children are learning to read, the books that they are supplied with are both blessed and inhibited by a highly limited vocabulary. The Janet and John books, for example, were first introduced in Britain in 1949. Teachers found that the attractive illustrations were enjoyed by children and parents alike – especially when the books were compared with rather old fashioned looking phonic books. The basis of the Janet and John approach was that the child first associated pictures and words – and then memorised them by controlled practice. A lot of children were taught to read using the Janet and John books.

Many other reading schemes followed – some stressing look and say, others whole word methods and some phonic. Most children who are at the Eleven Plus stage will have been taught to read using a combination of methods. If your eleven plus child finds reading a chore then you would be hard pressed to blame the reading methods taught by the school.

One primary objective in reading is extracting knowledge from the printed page. You may find your child reading for pleasure, trying to find information – or performing a task he or she finds time consuming and unappetising.

Some very worthy eleven plus teachers have produced lists of key words eleven plus children will meet in examinations and on practice papers. Learning to apply these words could be a worth while exercise for some children. The difference between a pass and a fail, however, could be a word that is not on the list.

Perhaps one day our Eleven Plus children will have lists of recommended books.

“Read these fifteen books and you will be exposed to all the words that you will find in the Eleven Plus Examination.”

This could be shortened to:

“Special offer! Five important Eleven Plus books for only £3.50 each. Buy all five for £15.00. You will meet over 95% of all the words your child will meet in the examination.”

I would be very grateful for any lists of `useful and important’ eleven plus books. I bet, however, that if your pre eleven plus child read `The Three Musketeers’ and “Two Years Before the Mast” then you would have covered a very large proportion of key Eleven Plus words.

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