When an eleven plus child starts `seriously’ on an eleven plus course, the child may, sometimes, feel a little disheartened. The bright eleven plus child will realise very quickly that when `the parents’ say: “Let’s do a little work today. The questions are just fun. They do not really matter. We will all just do our best,” the alarm bells need to ring. The child is bright and can recognise that `the parents’ are intent on some scheme or another. The serious side comes when `the parents’ arrive home with thirteen different eleven plus books, a new dictionary, a new desk, three packets of new pencils and a set of gold stars. Big trouble lies ahead!
An advanced eleven plus course presupposes a degree of mental maturity. This is not quite the same thing as emotional maturity. It is, for example, possible for the candidate to feel that an occasional tantrum is in order. We would want a candidate to be able to hold a conversation without slipping into `he said’ and `she said’ zones. The question of social maturity is yet another matter. How can your esteemed child look at you with horror in the eyes at the idea of all that extra work – but succumb quietly when the same work is suggested by an outsider.
The eleven plus child must be able to distinguish between fact and fiction whether on a paper or in a discussion. The eleven plus child needs to be able to cope with abstract and difficult ideas – whether the ideas are part of the eleven plus or pertain to emotions within the family.
Some eleven plus children are also exposed to weaknesses within their parents. The incredulous feeling that some children must meet will be highlighted when one of the parents can’t do an eleven plus question. Why can’t mum or dad do a relatively simple eleven plus question like: A plate costs half as much as a saucer. At a boot fair two hardly used plates and three saucers cost 60p. How much does each cost? Someone in the family should be able to work that out in less than a minute! “Oh, dear! My parents have holes in their knowledge. I know what – I will phone a friend!” (“My friend’s mum says it is 15p and 10p. Should I move families?”)
Eleven plus children may also have to work under pressure particularly when one or more parent is involved. The child may feel that the parents are vying to be the most persuasive voice in the eleven plus challenge. The old words: “Just wait until your dad gets home.” Or: “Just wait until your mother gets home,” may not be as effective if the child feels that someone else in the family will enjoy an opportunity of climbing onto a soap box to lecture on the advantages of passing the eleven plus.
Some parents could consider the need to pre-prepare answers and working out. (“Look dear. We did this paper last night and got them all right. We are ready to help you.”)
Would this take away some of the potential angst?