Is it too late to start eleven plus preparation at birth? Naturally when glances cross across the room for the first time men and women will view each other with interest. It could be a smile, or the sound of the voice or a flick of the hair – but deep down the initial reaction must be: “Could my prospective mate bear me a proud eleven plus child?”
Later on in the relationship the unborn child will be offered music, the correct food and a stress free life. Some parents may even start reading War and Peace and explaining the vocabulary – but this may be a step too far for some.
The first formal eleven plus instruction will need to be rather informal. After all the new born child does not learn the mother tongue in the same way that he or she will learn to do percentages in later life – there is a more gradual assimilation of language and knowledge. A few hours after birth a baby will offer a cry when feeling discomforted. Parents should not confuse this sound with those made when arguing about completing yet another eleven plus paper.
Naturally mother and father will respond to any characteristic sounds – they will sooth and try to alleviate discomfort. A gurgle of pleasure from the baby may be accompanied by chuckles and laughter from the parents – often followed kisses and hugs. Parents who are aware will remember these early precious moments – and carry them forward in their eleven plus preparation.
Rule 1 – Alleviate discomfort in the eleven plus child
Rule 2 – Lots of hugs, kisses and smiles
As the child becomes more articulate, then he or she will use words to express pleasure, misery and joy. Later on words may be used as tools in eleven plus arguments and discussions. “I am only doing it because you made me. I do not really want to do the eleven plus. I do not want to go to grammar.”
Rule 3 – Sticks and stones my break my bones, but words will never hurt me.
Eleven plus children sometimes use manipulative language to declare their feelings. On other occasions they may choose to declarative language. The difference between these two forms of language may not need to be explained. (Some parents call declarative language arguing and manipulative language wheedling.)
Rule 4 – Don’t give in to promises. Parents need their child to understand that the eleven plus requires deeds not words
Rule 5 – Win some eleven plus arguments and lose some. Remember Demosthenes? He maintained that he who fights and runs away will live to fight another day.