Some of us may wish, at times, that the presentation of much of the eleven plus was not quite so serious.
What about: After passing her driving test Dawn walked home. She was very pleased with herself and kept taking little glances at her certificate. She went straight over a zebra crossing and the wrong way up a one way street.
Her driving instructor saw her! A passing policeman did not stop her and offer a caution! Why?
Every parent with a driving licence will immediately be able to work out the answer. After all we make decisions while driving in a remarkably short time. Of course Dawn was walking or riding her bike – but will your non driving ten year old work out the solution as quickly?
When parents are working with their child they are continually making split second decisions. Is my child’s answer to do with competence or performance? Competence on an eleven plus paper is to do with the basic ability to perform. Performance is the demonstration of that competence.
What do you get if you divide 40 by a half and add ten to the result? Eleven plus competence is knowing how to divide fractions. The performance is whether your child, who is able to understand how to divide fractions, works out that forty divided by a half is eighty – then simply adds the ten to give ninety!
To try to maintain a high level of elven plus performance is sometimes hard work for some parents and their children. A fair number of parents will strive, quite rightly, to keep as narrow a gap as possible, between the child actual performance and potential performance.
“Come dear, it is time for us to work together on your paper. I am sure that if we work together we will able to complete the task quite quickly. We can then go off for a lovely swim”
“You will complete this paper this afternoon. I do not want any messing about. You will sit there until you are finished. I am very angry with you for not finishing the paper last night. If you do not obtain at least 83% this time you cannot watch T.V. Understand?”
Which scenario will have the best results? We can surmise that motivation to do well on a task depends to a large degree on the relationship between the child and the parent. The way the eleven plus task is presented - and the perceived outcome - could also affect performance. Very few eleven plus children will perform at the highest possible level if they cannot see a point to doing the work. A bit of humour and a little challenge could, possibly, go a long way.