Can My Child Do it?
Before plunging into the 11 Plus revision process, parents should test their child’s level of interest, as the effort to be volunteered by the child would play a decisive role on the outcome. If you have to push the child constantly towards the goal you have set out for him/her the chances of success would be minimal.
How can I kindle my child’s enthusiasm to aim for one of these schools?
Certainly, talking about the benefits of attending such a school would help. However, considering the prolonged effort that would be demanded from the child, leaving it at that might not prove to be a long lasting incentive. Letting the child meet parents, who have already gone through the whole experience with a positive result or better still finding a way to get your child to talk to students already attending a selective school could trigger a sustainable desire to work for that goal. You can actually use our forum to converse with other parents to see if they are willing to oblige. On the other hand, over zealously spurring the child to that end, to an extend that the child starts seeing it as a life and death matter, could not only have a detrimental effect on her/his self-confidence, should the child not succeed, but would also put her/him on a knife edge when the exam date finally arrives.
Obviously, this is a significant factor for deciding if and when you should engage in such an undertaking. Nevertheless, even an average child could reach the required levels to succeed, provided that there is enough time left before the exams and there is help at hand.
How would I find out about my child’s potential?
A great deal is said about a child’s potential and regrettably not in the affirmative. “If the child does not have the potential, no amount of work will ensure success”, they say. There is no such thing as a child’s inherent potential, which is static and measurable. We must not loose sight of the uncultivated characteristics of a 10 year old child’s cognitive faculties. However, what limits the true potential of the child is the failure to comprehend the unlimited capacity that children have, not only to acquire the knowledge that we feed them with, but also to cultivate and enhance their reasoning abilities far beyond the level that they may have been ‘destined’ to have. It is us, as teachers, educators, that limit children’s potential and then have the audacity to use that ‘lack of potential’ as fig leaves for our own failures and limitations. Every child has potential to achieve a great deal. If only we give them the means and opportunity to show that potential. If only we create a level playing field for them to liberate their potential for excellence.
In other words, your child’s potential can only be handled relative to time and resources available to her/him. If the child has enough time to make up for knowledge and reasoning abilities not already properly provided by the school etc., then there is all the chance that he/she can develop enough ‘potential’ to succeed.
You could consider an assessment test, before making a decision. Correctly structured assessment test would reveal child’s strengths and weaknesses and given sufficient time, remedies to overcome weaknesses and to consolidate strengths could be provided.
You must find out from your primary school whether or not they have the means to help children prepare for the 11 Plus exams. Talk to child’s teacher or the head-teacher to find out. Realistically analyse how much support you can provide. How much time can you spare from your other commitments etc. and how well versed are you with the topics to provide meaningful help?
If you feel you are not up to the task and the school cannot or will not provide support, you can consider a private tutor for help. If you do, we would suggest one hour session of one-to-one tuition per week, plus 1-3 hours per week of homework as directed by the tutor. You can find many sites on the Internet, which provide list of 11 Plus tutors.
If your child had a sound learning background at school aided with home help and has already attained an above average level, then only few months may be enough to cover areas required by 11 Plus exams. Otherwise, an assessment test like the one mentioned before could provide the answers. If your child is achieving average levels with most subjects, including English and Maths, you may need to start the revision process much earlier. If your child is attending a state primary school and 11 Plus help is not provided as a matter of policy, then you may need to start at least 7-8 months before the exam date. Bear in mind that, in most cases, just going through the practice papers individually, may not be enough. We would strongly advice at least 3 and if possible more mock-exams during the full course of the revision.
We, as parents are the first port of call for children to obtain the incentive to succeed. If we are not confident that our child can do it, no matter how we try to hide it for the fear of demoralising the child, the child will sense that doubt. Therefore, we must first teach ourselves to see the glass half full. Otherwise, our hesitation could reflect on our child as a self-fulfilling prophecy that no amount of false appraisals or rewards could help to reverse.