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Saturday, April 04, 2009

Eleven Plus Frustrations

When we read text books about relationships between children and their parents we often see the case stated of a girl and her parents. There was repeated conflict between the girl and her parents over wearing a coat to school. Every morning she maintained that she did not need a coat. Every morning her parents insisted that a coat was necessary.

Finally they talked the matter over and the girl agreed that 50 degrees Fahrenheit was the proper dividing line. The family consensus was that if the temperature was over 50 degrees on a sunny morning or 55 degrees on a cloudy morning she did not need to wear a coat. Any other temperature: “You wear that coat!”

The breakfast fights stopped. The girl went outside to check the temperature.

Conflicts between parents and children often seem to revolve around remarkably similar areas.

Untidiness and disorder will probably come very high in the list.

Un-reliability and being late or unaware of the time must come pretty high.

The why and when of any eleven plus work must also cause, at times, some degree of conflict.

There must be plenty of other opportunities for conflict within a family including money, clothes, late nights, reading, obedience, answering back and general disagreement.

Not all families are faced by challenges of authority by their eleven plus children. Some children are able to grow up smoothly, without behaviour problems. These are children who do not want to make demands on their parents and they do not wish to vex and frustrate their parents.

In the initial example the family decided to draw a line with a temperature of 50 degrees. But drawing a line when eleven plus children are supposed to be working does not mean that all forms of democracy within the family have to be abandoned. The eleven plus is not all about punishment and discipline.

Some eleven plus children only need to be obedient when it is necessary. After all they will rationalise that obedience is a means and not an end. To counteract this most parents will use social controls like rewards, explanations and suggestions as a means of steering their children towards good behaviour.

The big problem that families face is that of time management. Almost every thing an eleven plus child does is governed by the clock. Years ago the family used to have a large grandfather’s clock that rang the hour. Time was heard to be measured. Primary schools today often ban the use of a watch , indeed some children do not appear to have much idea of the passage of time. But watches can not be thought of as toys to eleven plus children – they should regarded as essential tools in the management of time.

Good time keeping will remove some frustrations in the lives of parents and children in the lead up to the eleven plus. Good time keeping will help with completing papers on time – but will also help with when to start and when to stop a paper.

As your child approaches the school gates – collect the watch. When you pick your child up from school hand the watch back. Bit by bit you hope that your child will start to become aware of the passage of time.

It is worth a try!

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