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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

An Eleven Plus Trip to the Zoo

For some elements of eleven plus studies to be really meaningful, parents should be able to relate the eleven plus content to their child’s background. A family who has travelled to many countries, for example, would be able to discuss with some conviction a group of similar words like: `hobo traveller and trekker’. Some children, however, may possibly find it difficult to do any real thinking on the basis of abstractions alone.

Suppose you want to go with your eleven year old child to London Zoo. You live `out of town’ so the train is an option. There is, for example, a direct train from Gillingham in Kent to Charing Cross in London.

A tube journey would be needed to reach London Zoo. Transport of London has a journey planner. Entering the terms `Charing Cross’ and `London Zoo’ shows an example of a journey by underground and then by bus.

You could reasonably ask your child to look at the train timetable from Gillingham to Charing Cross. You may then choose to suggest that a map of the underground would give some vital information – after all you do want to get off at the right stop.

You would possibly expect your eleven year old to be able to look the zoo site up on the internet.

Now comes the task of assembling the different information. How long is it all going to take? The train takes about an hour and a half for the first section of the journey while the travel inside London takes about half an hour.

Two hours travel? Is there an easier way? Should `someone’ drive? Will travelling by car into London be any quicker? Which journey will be safer? What about the difference in cost between driving and letting `the train take the strain’?

As parents and teachers we often rely on our ability to use words to explain concrete experiences. Some eleven year old children would relish the idea of taking responsibility for planning the rail journey. Other children may feel over awed by the responsibility. The words `Train travel can be subject to disruptions’ may be significant to some children – yet other less `train aware’ children would have no idea of the implications.

An eleven plus question could be: What time would a family have to leave Gillingham to arrive, by train at London Zoo at around eleven o’clock? The train takes an hour and a half and the tube and bus around half an hour? (There may be a long queue at the gate – taking about twenty minutes.)

How can parents make this meaningful? Take their child to the zoo by train? Use the online help available through three websites to make the experience more meaningful? Sometimes questions requiring abstractions may be made easier if meaningful visual analogies are used. Remind yourself – anything that aids learning should improve retention and problem solving skills.

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