How can parents prepare their children for the `ordeal’ of the eleven plus examination? In the first place a large number of eleven plus children will actually look forward to the examination. They will be confident that they have been able to do most of the questions on the papers. Some children will relish the idea of being stretched and having to confront difficult and puzzling questions.
There will still be some children, however, who will creep towards the examinations feeling fearful and apprehensive. These children may, in part, have been conditioned by their parents:
“William is not good at examinations. He just goes to pieces.”
“You wait until you get into the examination. You won’t be able to do anything. You must do some papers now.”
“I was always good at examinations. Look what I have achieved. You just don’t care. All the rest of the family have done well. You must try harder.”
After all the work on selection and practice papers is simply a rehearsal for the real event. Think of a bride preparing for her wedding. She is changing clothes to go to the final walk through the evening before the wedding. Her mother and friends are gathered around helping with final fittings.
“Marriages just don’t last these days. I’ll give this one just three months.”
“Yes, your bum does look fat in your wedding dress. Never mind no will notice the extra two stone.”
“Just wait until the honeymoon is over. You will regret this for the rest of your life. You know he only loves football.”
The bride and the eleven plus child have a few things in common. They don’t need to know what they can’t do they need to know what they can do.
They need to be built up with kind and timely words – and not feel unloved and denigrated.
Somehow the eleven plus child and the bride need to feel that what ever has gone before, what ever errors have been made, what ever preparation has been missed – that they have done the best they can.