Being very bright is for some children a bit of a handicap. If the family is bright, verbal and articulate - and their child displays similar tendencies – then it is likely that the family will be largely accepting (and very proud) of the evidence of ability. Other families may be slightly resentful if one of their `ducklings’ shows signs of being different.
A bright child does not just live in a family but also grows in in society. We must assume that society is a force that will have a huge impact as the family work towards the eleven plus. The child will be affected, for example, by the immediate neighbourhood. Does the child live in a `good’ neighbourhood with leafy gardens? Is material success important in the family – and in the neighbourhood? Are there good neighbours with a purposeful neighbourhood watch scheme?
Are the children the eleven plus child will come into contact with after school preoccupied by sport? Is there easy access to a playground or leisure facilities?
A bright child living on a busy road with large scale industry and a family living in semi poverty may, however, have the same burning desire to do well academically.
Most parents of children working towards the eleven plus will prize intelligence and emotional stability very highly. Mood changes and uncalled for aggression naturally play a part in the development of the child. The odd temper tantrum could, however, help to clear the air. (Are we talking about a tantrum from a parent or a child?)
Having a bright child does not mean that you land up with an unhappy and frustrated child. It only means that some bright children are sometimes unhappy and frustrated.
It is difficult to see how the present eleven plus system caters for bright but frustrated children. Quite simply the eleven plus examination is not designed to help children adjust socially. We need an examination system that will select bright children for entry in a grammar school. It is difficult to see how a restricted diet of verbal and non verbal reasoning papers will make a child feel fulfilled and happy.
The strange thing is, however, that sustained endeavour and effort of answering question after question does very often do the job of helping a child feel confident and fulfilled. Children do start feeling that they can tackle `hard’ problems and solve them.
Anecdotal evidence from chatting to parents suggests that some children do begin to `calm down’ before the examination. The `handicap’ of feeling that they don’t fit in with peers seems to dissipate with the realisation that in the new school – the grammar school - they are likely to meet children at least as bright as them selves.
Parents can do a lot to help with pre eleven plus nerves. They could try to help their child to understand that whatever tears and upsets that may occur along the eleven plus journey it is important to keep the time spent studying as free as possible of tension. Some parents find that simple eleven plus timetable helps. The timetable will suggest a time to work and a time to play.
Every eleven plus child can not live in a gated community. Not all children will have unlimited access to tutors. Some parents will continue to struggle with parts of papers. Children will continue to throw the occasional wobbler. It is likely too, however, that pre eleven plus nerves will be more in the minds of the parents than children.