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Thursday, March 25, 2010

Eleven Plus Decisions

When you are planning your child’s eleven plus curriculum you are making all the decisions. You may choose to cede part of the responsibility to a tutor or a web site or even a series of eleven plus books – but once you make a stand and say: “We are going for the Eleven Plus,” you are putting yourself in command. You are now in control of the knowledge your child needs to be able to pass the eleven plus.

Passing the eleven plus is far more than gathering information and sharing this with your child. You are attempting to build a culture of knowledge. You are challenging the way some topics are taught in schools. You are saying to yourself; “In my case we need to go beyond what the school is teaching.”

Your child will not be able to compartmentalise what has to be learnt in order to pass the eleven plus and what is taught at school. A top mathematics group, for example, will be stretched and extended, but some of the methods you employ may be different. Not necessarily wrong, but certainly different.

There is a certain paradox in eleven plus work. One goal of eleven plus preparation must be for children to be able to make sense of new information. It is not enough, however, for a parent to teach their child how to do questions on area, for example, if the teaching of area is only presented in an abstract manner. Parents do, sometimes, have to get down and dirty and help their child to acquire a practical understanding.

There will always be some form of mismatch between what a school can teach and what the eleven plus expects. In just the same way parents may feel a sense of frustration as they struggle with their intentions and what they can actually achieve.

Most mothers and fathers just do the best they can.

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