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Friday, September 25, 2009

An Eleven Plus Oxymoron

When pre eleven plus children are very little they expect their parents to know everything. After all the staples of life include food, sleep and place to be alone – even if only for a few seconds.

Little by little children learn that their parents are not omnipotent – and there are gaps in their knowledge. Eleven plus children become very aware of the ability of their parents to solve eleven plus problems – and explain them. I did, however, once meet an eleven plus mother who informed me (rather loftily) that she did not need to be involved with the eleven plus as that is what she was paying a tutor for. At the other end of the spectrum are thousands of mothers and fathers simply doing their best to help their child, answer the questions – and then try to explain the questions.

Children, however, have an extraordinary ability to find and exploit weaknesses in their parents. A two year old learns to hurl his body full length onto the floor of a crowded store and scream mightily. All parents will react in different ways. A small percentage of parents will distance themselves as quickly as possible from the menace – while others parents will coo sweetly and bribe the little sweetie pie.

What do eleven plus parents do if their child will not accept responsibility?

This does not mean that the child is overtly disobedient. The term `a bit too laid back’ springs to mind. This is where the art of being a parent comes into play. First of all parents have to play the sympathy card.

“After all I have done for you. I bought you new shoes for school. We have all their books and you never open them. The tutor says that you do not try hard enough. I am doing my best and what do you give me? Grief. We are all trying our hardest and you just sit there and argue with me.”

The other way of dealing with the laid back child is what is called `Direct Talking’.

“Well, I say so. I feed you. I clothe you. I expect you to do the work. If you are not prepared to co-operate, then that is fine. No T.V. No late reading. No friends to your party. If I ask you to do something I expect you to do something. Now, go to your room and start work. Or else!”

There must be some reasonably sane parents who will attempt to offer a combination of approaches. Are the words `Eleven Plus’ and `sanity’ oxymorons?

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