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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Eleven Plus Voice

Parents who are working with their children need to be aware of `The Eleven Plus Voice’. This is the voice or tone you may choose to use when you are working with your child on eleven plus work – or even discussing where and when the work should be done. Your eleven plus voice needs to be clear and resonant – and pleasing to the ear.

To maintain clarity and resonance you need to think about the shape and position of your mouth. A mouth that never stops moving on the desirability of passing the eleven plus may give your child the stuff of nightmares. Nagging is good – but in eleven plus terms demands a degree of moderation. You will be aware that a determined eleven plus nag is not the same as other more general nagging. If you are feeling tired or under pressure then the quality and carrying power of your voice could change. (Don’t you dare raise your voice at me!)

The carrying power of your voice is not so much to do with the quality of tone as the articulation and direction. The tone, however, is produced by a combination of breath and the larynx. A fulsome or even full blown eleven plus rant may include several seventeen word sentences where a mother or a father does not stop to take breath. (Some sentences can be considerable longer.) The parent’s head can appear alarming close to the miscreant’s eleven plus face. A reasonable eleven plus rant may need to include at least the following words:

“After all we have done for you with holidays in America, cruises in the Mediterranean a new bicycle and fourteen different books of eleven plus papers and you can’t even sit down for ten minutes to do part of a paper.”

Eleven plus students of mathematics will see that the previous highlighted sentence has more than seventeen words – but it is easy to go over the top when you want to make a point!

To make their voice memorable some parents may choose to remember the film called `The Godfather’. There we learnt that nasal resonance offers a carrying power and penetration that simply shouting can not hope to achieve. Keep your cool, keep your voice nasal and your child will look at you with a combination of excited acceptance and possibly even a sense of dread and foreboding. You do not, however, want your nasal voice to be thin and reedy – you may need to offer a sense of menace.

Very few eleven plus parents will find that shouting ever brings about change. Shouting at your child can only be fruitful if you have never shouted before. Shouting comes under the aegis of the `short, sharp shock’ but can only be effective if used sparingly.

Some remarkable eleven plus results have been achieved without the benefit of anger, frustration, shouting and recrimination. Some children have even passed without threats, overblown rewards and sarcasm. The model eleven plus voice will be warm, encouraging and wholesome. This is a voice that is never lifted and displays true affection and full recognition of the effort that is being made.

The words `the still small voice’ are often attributed to the conscience. How wonderful it would be if your child said to you - on the day the results arrived:

“Thank you mum and dad – we achieved these results and you never raised your voice or said a cross eleven plus word. I am truly grateful. I really did do my best”

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