Vocabulary is one of the key areas of importance when it comes to the 11+ exams.
However, it's one of the areas that most children (and parents) struggle with. This is partly because many schools do not place a great emphasis on teaching vocabulary during lessons and children therefore fail to extend their vocabulary beyond the everyday words they see or hear.
Furthermore, a lot of children read regularly but are not encouraged to look up the meaning of new or unique words which results in them recognising difficult words but being clueless about what they mean.
To help your child with vocabulary, here are 3 things you can do.
1. Make General Knowledge a part of their at-home curriculum.
General Knowledge questions are brilliant at helping your child to improve their memory, retain information and learn new and exciting things. These are some of the very skills that many prestigious grammar and private schools look for when selecting students. By incorporating General Knowledge into your child's learning routine, you'll expand their cultural, historical and social awareness which will in turn increase and improve their vocabulary. Furthermore, it's fun! General Knowledge can be taught through quizzes, tests, games and other activities.
2. Increase your child's potential.
Many parents think that the 11+ exam is a test of intelligence. Yes, to some extent it is. However, it is truly a test of potential. Your child should therefore demonstrate a mix of potential and intellect. To do this, don't be afraid to push them a tiny bit so that they go beyond the scope of what the National Curriculum teaches.
Quick tip: Prestigious schools like Eton College and Cheltenham Ladies College actively seek students who show great academic potential. Potential is one of the most important attributes that schools are looking for in students. Your child therefore doesn't need to have the vocabulary of Shakespeare, but rather, great potential and a strong enthusiasm for learning and discovery.
3. Get them reading ahead.
If your child is aged 10. It's okay to encourage them to read books for 10 year olds. However, it won't do much for helping them to be ahead of other 11+ applicants. However, encouraging your 10 year old to read books that are suited to gifted readers or children aged 12-13 will challenge their reading and comprehension skills whilst also helping them to come across new words. As a rule of thumb, they should be reading classic stories (like Charles Dickens and R.L Stevenson) or good modern texts like books by Phillip Pullman, Roderick Gordon and Malorie Blackman.
Quick tip: Encourage your child to have a specific exercise book where they write down new/complex words, their meanings and one antonym and synonym for each word. Test their vocabulary skills once a week.