A study done in the USA back in 1931 suggested that the best time to teach reading was when a child had reached a mental age of six and a half years. This lead to the concept of `reading readiness’. Along with this age was the feeling that if a child was taught to read before six and a half, than the child would suffer lasting harm.
It was thought that it was possible to teach children to read before six and half – but that it was not genuine reading – it was called `barking at print’ - where a child worked from memory and understood little of what he or she was reading.
The age of transition to senior school was worked out by a study, over fifty years ago, which suggested that a child would be ready to leave junior school at around the age of eleven.
We could call this age, for the sake of argument, `Readiness for the Eleven Plus’.
To help a child to be ready for the eleven plus we can do many different activities from working on reading vocabulary to helping a child understand how pie charts work.
If a child is not ready to pass the eleven plus on the day of the examination, do we use the term `barking at examinations’?
Or do we call the eleven plus examination `barking mad’ because it relies so heavily on a child being able to remember facts and methods – and requires little original thought?