The 11 Plus Exam can be a stress-filled process for both children and their parents.
However, as it is the gateway to many prominent grammar schools across England and Northern Ireland, many have to suck it up and try to get through it with as little issues as possible. Here are a few quick tips to keep you and your child grounded throughout.
To 11 Plus or not to 11 Plus
One of the first things to consider is if grammar school is the right choice for your child. In the event that they seem academically capable to take on the at times dreaded 11 Plus exam, and you feel they will flourish at the grammar school level, then this could be a good move. On the other hand, for children who are a bit slower to catch up academically, and may need more prompting to keep those high marks, give them some more time to find their academic stride, instead of pushing this kind of exam on them.
If you decide to go ahead with the exam, make sure your child is properly prepared. You wouldn’t send a soldier into battle unarmed, and in this case, the 11 Plus is that battle. They may need extra lessons for at least fifteen months before the exam, where various 11 Plus topics and questions are covered. If their current school does not provide them, try to source tutors, or group tuition options close to their school or neighbourhood where possible. Lessons are usually after school and you don’t want your child having to travel long distances after an already trying school day, before being able to get back home and rest.
Don’t freak out!
Try not to go “exam batty” in the months leading up to it. If you stress out, so will your kids. They need you to be the supportive figure that nurtures their learning, while being calm and centred when they are feeling overwhelmed. This is the same for the days just before the exam. While your children may not be able to forget about it, it will help if you encourage them to relax and enjoy activities that don’t require them to think too hard. This will allow them to be rested and ready for the big day. As for you the parent, if you find yourself freaking out a bit remember that you’ve done your best for your child and because of it, they will try their best too. That’s all you can do, so don’t worry. Just breathe.
While it’s nice to offer to buy a new game, or some other reward that your child will love after the exam’s over, make sure you’re offering it for the right reasons. The 11 Plus is many children’s first view of intense academic examination procedures, and you don’t want them thinking that the only way you’ll be proud is if they do well. If you choose to reward them, let it be for being confident enough to take the exam in the first place.