11 plus course

How To Start Preparing For The 11+ Exam

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“My child’s 11+ exam is next year, how do I start preparing for it?”

This is a great question and one I hear often.

In fact, I wrote a guidebook on this very topic almost a decade ago. It’s rather dated now, especially as the CEM was only introduced in 2013, but I’m hoping to produce an updated version of the book in the nearby future.

In the meantime, here are some tips to help guide you through starting your child’s 11+ prep. These tips are also somewhat applicable to the 7+, 8+, 9+ and 10+ exams.

Be Honest

I know we all think our children are perfect but the unfortunate truth is that not every child is suited to the 11+. Some children don’t have the drive or determination to study for what can feel like hours on end. Some (in fact most) children would rather watch TV all day or take part in tons of activities after school than to spend their evenings or holiday periods studying for an exam. Before you even begin to consider the 11+, think about whether your child is naturally bright, be honest with yourself. Does your child have natural academic potential or are they lagging behind academically? Does your child want to sit the exam? Do they want to go to a grammar or independent school? Think about these things and be honest with yourself. Don’t hesitate to ask your child questions and discuss whether they’d like to go through the 11+ process.

Start early

I know that not all parents are fortunate enough to have discovered the 11+ early, but as a general rule of thumb, early preparation makes a tremendous difference. If you can, start laying a foundation for your child’s educational success as early as possible and avoid leaving exam prep to the last minute.

Begin with research

Research which schools you’re applying for and if possible, consider visiting them now. Sometimes parents start 11+ preparation and then find out months later that the school they’re applying for doesn’t even test a certain subject so it’s best to know where you’re applying to first. Then you can plan accordingly.

Start small

The Bond books are a great starting point. Start with the lower age bracket (e.g. 7-8) and then work upwards. Go through questions that your child is struggling with most and check the ones they got wrong so they don’t repeat mistakes.

Get focused

Focus on improving your child’s overall vocabulary, English and Maths skills. These skills aren’t just important for the 11+ but for life! The stronger their English and Maths, the more likely they are to do well.

Find a routine

Get into a routine. This is important so that it becomes a habit for your child to study every day and it helps them to manage homework alongside 11+ work.

Don’t solely D.i.y

Find a good tutor. You don’t have to use one but it’s a good idea to see which tutor your child clicks with and then to join their waiting list early so that your child can have a few lessons with them closer to the time of the exam. Some parents don’t use a tutor at all and that’s fine but it’s good to have a second opinion from someone who has a strong track record of getting children into the particular school(s) you’re applying for. If you don’t want regular lessons, just book a few assessments with them and they should be able to give you a report of their observations.

Stay calm

Stay calm and don’t panic because children pick up on these things. Try to encourage your child to have a positive mindset about exams and education in general.

I hope these tips have been useful.

Here’s to your child’s success!

The Tutoress Team.

3 Fun Ways To Build Your Child’s Vocabulary In Preparation For The 11+

3 fun ways to improve your child’s vocabulary in preparation for the 11+

3 fun ways to improve your child’s vocabulary in preparation for the 11+


Vocabulary is one of the most important areas of  11+ preparation as it’s a skills that’s assessed in Verbal Reasoning and English exams. Furthermore, research shows that children who possess higher levels of vocabulary tend to outperform those with limited vocab. 

Vocabulary is extremely important and creates the foundation for outstanding academic standards in the 11+ and beyond.

To help your child improve their vocab, check out these three tips. They’re based on my experience of teaching hundreds of students in preparation for school entrance exams.

Use higher level vocabulary when talking to your child. 

Children learn vocabulary best when hearing advanced words in context. It’s therefore more effective to speak to your child in a way that they’ll understand, but will also challenge their knowledge of more complex words. For instance, you could throw in a ‘big’ word when asking a question or when talking about your day. You can also encourage your child to respond back to you using the same word.

Have a word of the day or week. 

In the 11+, SATS, ISEB and GCSE Facebook group that I’m an admin of, we have a Word of The Day. I love the concept and have seen it used successfully for helping children improve their vocabulary skills. You can choose a WOTD or WOTW (word of the week) and really get involved by making a big deal of that particular word. For instance, you could create word posters or cartoons with that word - an activity that visual learners love. I actually started implementing this in my lessons and was amazed to see that one of my international students still remembered the words several months later. It made me realise how powerful it is to incorporate images and pictures into English and Literacy lessons.

Put down the “baby”books. 

No offence to certain authors, but I often observe my students reading books that limit their vocabulary. For instance, some of the most popular children’s books of the moment are filled with lovely cartoon pictures but very limited vocabulary-building words. I won’t name the books in question but they’re extremely popular and they’re great as light reading but when I see students ONLY reading those books, it makes me wince. Your child should be reading a wide range of books including reputable newspaper articles and magazines, novels and autobiographies.

Choosing to read just one type of book or books by one author and never branching out, is a recipe for limited vocabulary so I highly recommend encouraging your child to read slightly outside of their comfort zone.

But my child hates reading “smart” books, can I just let them read the “baby” ones?

The answer is NO!

Yes, it’s hard to get them reading some of the more difficult texts but you can branch out a little by encouraging them to read a small snippet of a newspaper article or a page or two of an autobiography and then build up from there. Diversifying the types of books they read will pay off later down the line, trust me.

Do you have any additional tips for boosting vocab? If so, share them by leaving a comment below.

If you enjoyed this blog, share it on social media or forward it to a friend or family member.

Here’s to your child’s success!

The Tutoress.

Do you have any additional tips for boosting vocab? If so, share them by leaving a comment below.

If you enjoyed this blog, share it on social media or forward it to a friend or family member.

Here’s to your child’s success!

The Tutoress.

How To Prepare For The 11+ or ISEB During The Summer Holidays

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Good morning parents,

As we approach the summer holidays it’s very easy to reduce the focus on learning but this is one of the best times to help your child with 11+ exam preparation.

Make each day count.

Here are some fun ways to do this:

- Make the most of the sunshine. Instead of going outside, study in the park, at the beach or in the garden - it’s beautiful, relaxing and...free.

- Make the most of your local library. It’s a great time to go to the library as a family or even take day trips exploring different libraries across the UK. My local incorporates AI technology (Artificial Intelligence) and children love it.

You could search for some of the UK’s best libraries and spend a day visiting each one or pick three or four libraries to visit over the summer.

- Complete the 10-minute test books. I am a huge fan of 10-minute test books because they’re so convenient for busy children and marking them is quite straightforward. There’s also no excuse when it takes just 10 minutes to complete a paper. Make it a habit to complete a few papers each day.

That leads me to my next tip.

- If you’re travelling abroad, pack a 10-minute book for each subject (English, Maths, Verbal and Non-Verbal Reasoning), plus reading books or a Kindle and electronic dictionary. Go through vocabulary cards, apps or flash cards on the plane, train or in the car 🚗.

The key takeaway is to make everyday meaningful and productive. That doesn’t mean your child need to study excessively, far from it, create a routine that’s easy and enjoyable to stick to so that it’s easy for your child to follow through and complete their revision.

One final tip which was inspired by 11+ Mum, Shola Alabi, is to eat healthy and limit your child’s intake of sugary foods. It’s easy to indulge during the holiday season as there’s an abundance of popcorn, candy floss and sugary drinks but a healthy body fosters a healthy brain so try to swap high sugar foods for healthier alternatives such as fruits, vegetables, water and crackers (instead of chocolates).

Shola also adds that parents should go through corrections. This is vital - your child can complete a million papers but if they don’t understand why they’re making mistakes and learn the correct techniques, they’ll never make significant progress.

I hope the above tips were helpful - if you have any other insights to share please leave a comment with them below 🙂

If you’re looking for great free learning resources, head over here to sign up for worksheets and printables.

11 Brilliant Books For 11+ Boys Who Hate Reading

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Click the play button below to listen to the list of recommended books as well as additional tips for helping your son with his reading.

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Happy bank holiday weekend!

I hope you’re having a wonderful Monday and are enjoying the warm weather.

As we prepare for our 11+ summer course, I am inundated with messages and calls from parents asking for tips on how to help their sons with reading. 

Generally, it seems that reading is the domain of girls and I’m always amazed by how much my female students tend to love reading whilst the majority of my male students hate it. There are so many potential reasons for this but if I start on them, I’ll be writing forever.  

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As a proud bookworm, I’m constantly looking for the best books and stories for children aged 8-12 and always become incredibly excited when I stumble across a great undiscovered book. It’s like finding a hidden gem.

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If you have a son who absolutely hates reading, then hopefully this quick list of 11 of my favourite reading books will be helpful. It’s not a definitive list but it should act as a starting point and hopefully inspire you and your son to keep hunting for more great stories.

Without further ado, here we go:

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  1. Storm Breaker by Anthony Horowitz 

  2. HIVE by Mark Walden 

  3. The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins (this trilogy is especially great for helping children to come up with clever ideas for cliffhangers, inspire their creative thinking skills and improve their story writing structure. I’m a huge fan!)

  4. Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer

  5. Shadow jumper by JM Forster

  6. The Maze Runner by James Dashner 

  7. Thieves Like Us by Stephen Cole

  8. Evil Genius by Catherine Jinks

  9. Traitor Series, Andy McNab

  10. The Door or No Return by Sarah Mussi

  11. Sure Fire by Jack Higgins

There are a few other great finds such as The Cherub Series by Robert Muchamore.

Has your child read any of the above books? Which was their favourite? Are there any other great books that you love?

Let us know by leaving a comment below.

 

Why Being an Early Bird is Key to 11+ Success

Are you the parent that hasn't read a single book, article or blog post about the 11+ and have no idea about what the process involves?

Are you the parent that's left everything to the last minute and now you're nervous about how to help your child pass?

Or are you the parent that's researched every area of the 11+ since your child's first birthday? 

Are you the parent that's immersed themselves in reading as much 11+ guidance material as possible?

You see, there are two very different types of 11+ parents.

The first type is the one that leaves everything to the last minute and then freaks out when they realise that their child doesn't even know the basics.

The second type is the parent that's so well prepared that they've studied every piece of literature known to man.

As 11+ experts, we've noticed that the second type of parent is far more likely to have a child that passes the exam simply because they are prepared! They are an early bird and as they say, the early bird always catches the worm.

Time and time again, we come across parents that are the first type and they leave everything to the last minute. As a result, their child is overwhelmed and struggles to score higher than 50% in practice tests. Such parents have no idea how to help their child improve and quite frankly, they often expect miracles from tutors like ourselves. They expect us to magically take a child that doesn't have a grasp of the basics and turn them into geniuses.

Sometimes, there are rare instances where we can help such students but often enough it's the children that have been studying for at least 1.5 years and have worked consistently hard that end up passing the 11+.

So what can you take away from this?

Start preparing for the 11+ as early as possible! 1.5 years is the ideal amount of time.

The exam is meant to test natural ability and potential so ultimately a child that has built an exceptional vocabulary and has a wonderful grasp of English and Maths from an early age is much more likely to pass than one who is trying to cram at the last minute.

Leaving things to the last minute is one of the worst things that you can do when it comes to the 11+ so try to prepare as early as possible.

PS. It's okay to teach your child yourself but it's also good to have your child assessed by a tutor at least once before they sit the exam. It's even better to enrol your child in an 11+ mock exam so that you can find out how they're doing in comparison to other students and identify any weak spots that need addressing.

If you liked this post, please leave a comment below or share it with a friend that might also benefit from reading this advice.

Wishing you the best of luck with exam preparation.

TheTutoress.com.