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Friday, December 30, 2011

The Choice of Eleven Plus Parents

Does the emphasis on competition during the eleven plus year make some parents feel just a little uneasy about the all the hype? Are some parents actually made to feel inadequate about preparing their children for the examination by the tsunami of information that is unleashed during this vital year? Does the whole structure of the eleven plus year leave some parents feeling incompetent? What else could they be giving their children that other candidates are being offered?

Naturally there may be some parents who do not choose to take advantage of the educational opportunities offered during the eleven plus year. We once were asked to test an eleven plus child who did remarkably well on the battery of tests we administered. The parents were very upset with us when we told the child well done – and that she had an excellent academic potential. The argument was that they preferred their child to think that she `might’ pass the examination if `she’ worked very hard. The parents explained that they did not want their child to do any papers or examination practice – they just wanted their child to sit the examination. “It is not for you to say to our child that she has a good chance of passing – it is up to our daughter. We don’t want her to do any extra eleven plus work. If she passes, she passes.”

We must wonder why these highly educated and extremely well-spoken parents were even contemplating the eleven plus if they did not want their daughter to hear about the examination. At some time or another, their daughter has to become aware of the eleven plus. Her friends at school may, sometimes, talk about the examination. Her parents were certainly not apathetic about education and reiterated a number of times that they wanted their daughter to have the best possible future.

There will be some parents who will urge their children to pay attention and hope that `multiple exhortations’ will achieve good eleven plus results. Their children, however, may use words like `being nagged to death’. An eleven plus child, in the lead up to the eleven plus, is supposed to be attentive, as well as patient and polite.

It is possible, however, that some eleven plus children will want to feel that they are participating with their parents as the family shares in the eleven plus experience. The children may not want to be lectured. Some children may not want to receive packets of eleven plus largesse from their parents. Some children may want to be able to feel dignified and in control. Why should a child feel that he or she is failing the system if a requisite number of papers are not worked through?

After all these polemics it is wonderful to think that most parents are simply creative and imaginative about the eleven plus. They just want their children to do as well as possible. They don’t want their children to become too caught up in a pre-examination frenzy. In the final analysis parents have a choice about what they and their children are going to do during the eleven plus year. (The little girl -referred to above - passed!)

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