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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.

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.

 

Could Cheap Tuition Be Harming Your Child's Education?


I hear it time and time again.

'Your prices are high'

'Tuition is too expensive!'

'I'm just looking for a cheap tutor'

Many parents seem to have a mindset that cheaper is better. But is that really the case?

Do you really think it's safe or wise to place your precious child into the hands of a person who you've hired solely because they're inexpensive?

Do you really believe that it's smart to trust a total stranger to teach your child if they're being underpaid?

Let's reverse roles for a second.

Imagine you're not a parent but instead you're a tutor who is trying to make a living by teaching their knowledge/expertise/wisdom to others. Someone contacts you by phone or email to ask whether you'd be available to teach their child. You say 'yes' and you travel to the parents home to teach. You arrive there and your told that your fees are too high and the parent begs you to charge a few pounds/dollars less. You say 'yes' because you don't want to seem rude or ill-mannered and you start the lesson.

Whilst you'd initially headed over to the house feeling excited about meeting new people, teaching a new student and making a difference. You now feel a little bit different. You feel glum and unmotivated. Naturally, you move from wanting to give your absolute all into teaching this new pupil to feeling far less motivated to teach at an optimal level. Rather than putting in 100% of your energy into the student, you're so bogged down by the fact that you're being underpaid that you put about 70% into the lesson.

Now, step out of the tutors shoes and be a parent again.

Has the 'cheap' parent in this case actually benefited from hiring a 'cheap tutor'?

Realistically, should such a parent expect any tutor (irregardless of experience) to put 100% of their efforts into teaching the student if they're being underpaid?

I'm always amazed that so many parents only think about private tuition from their own viewpoint and they never for one moment consider things from the perspective of the tutor.

The frank truth is that you get what you pay for and if you hire a cheap tutor one of these three things will indefinitely happen:

  • The tutor won't give your child 100% of their time and effort. Ultimately, they won't spend money buying, photocopying or printing education resources because they simply can't afford to. That means that your child will receive an inferior level of tuition.
  • They'll stick around for a brief period, will teach your child for a few weeks or months and then they'll leave.
  • Another parent who's willing to pay the tutor a higher fee will snap the tutor up and the tutor will gladly stop teaching your child.

Just think about how chaotic it would be for a tutor to stop teaching your child a few weeks before their big exam.

It's clear to see that basing your tutor selection on price alone causes havoc both on a long and short term basis.

If you're a smart and savvy parent who really cares about how well their child does, you won't pick a tutor because he/she is 'cheap' or because you can intimidate them into accepting a lower wage.

The moral is that you get what you pay for and quality tutors are not cheap. They're pricey for a reason.

Now I want to hear from you:

Parents, have you hired a cheap tutor? What was the outcome? Leave a comment below.

Tutors, have you been asked to teach for a cheaper fee? Again, leave a comment below and share your experience.

Compound Word List For 11+ Exams

If you've been looking for a compound word list to help your child prepare for their 11+ or SATs exams you're in the right place. I've created a brilliant one which includes 100 of the most popular compound words. Many of these words have appeared on 11+ Verbal Reasoning and English papers over the past few years so it's important for your child to familiarise themselves with the words.

Click here to download the compound word list.

If you'd like me to create more free 11+ resources, tell me what you'd like to see by leaving a comment below.

Enjoy!

Christmas wishes,

The Tutoress