Parents will naturally be concerned about their children as the Eleven Plus examinations approach. A lot of family conversations will revolve around the candidate including health matters as well as intellectual, educational and social development. Some families even become more child centered than usual. Every single piece of progress in eleven plus terms is analysed and discussed. The `will he pass’ and the `what if’ scenarios are revisited ad nauseam.
Some families even find that the eleven plus dominates key times of the year. School holidays, for example, are no longer the domain of a happy carefree family – because there is always the spectre of another family who are staying at home working on eleven plus exercises.
Perspective is a key issue in eleven plus years. It is a very important examination for one member of the family – but there could be other children in the family. Parents have to make time for the whole family. Along with eleven plus work there still needs to be visits of the dentist, the special interests of other members of the family – and quality time to be a family unit.
Eleven plus children do need some activities that are not too directly related to the eleven plus. Some parents may encourage dance, other swimming, while some may even teach their child to play cards. After all, playing snap requires concentration – and ability to anticipate. Poker, however, is demanding in a different way. Five card stud, for example, brings any number of eleven plus skills into action – not the least of which – are counting, recognising odds and learning to look emotionless under pressure. Some parents, however, may prefer trips to museums and art galleries.
Eleven plus parents will take for granted that their child shows talent in diverse area like art or music. Some children may prefer to show interest, and ability, in drama or sport. These, however, all take time away from eleven plus papers.
We can’t, however, simply rely on long walks or cycle rides to give the eleven plus child enough physical stimulation. There has to be something more. Excessive reliance of sport to relieve anxiety and stress has, however, to be tempered. We all remember the words of Dolly Parton:
“I bought all those Jane Fonda videos. I love to sit and eat cookies and watch `em.”