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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.

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.

 

How To Help Your Child Improve Their Comprehension Skills (Audio)

Happy Sunday!

I’ve been thinking about recoding audios instead of written blog posts for a long time and finally had the chance to record one today.

In this audio, I discuss:

  • The tactics that parents can use to help their child engage with literature and improve their comprehension skills.

  • Strategies that students can use to improve their comprehension skills and score higher marks.

If your child struggles with comprehension (especially inference, elaboration and deduction) then this is for you.

Here’s a summary of some of the tips I share:

  • Be involved in your child’s learning, especially with regards to their reading. Let them read to you as often as possible.

  • Read in short bursts rather than forcing your child to read for long periods. It’s better to read little and often than not at all.

  • Read a wide variety of texts including poetry, biographies, newspapers and age-appropriate magazines/comics.

  • Incorporate your child’s passions, interests and hobbies into their reading - make it fun.

  • Be strategic about approaching exam questions so that your child can maximise their scores (I talk about this in a bit of depth so it’s worth listening to hear the tips shared).

I hope the audio is useful and if you have any questions or comments, please click on the comment box below and share them.

Here’s to your child’s success!

Victoria, The Tutoress.

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.

 

Expat Children and the 11-Plus Exams: Advice For Expat and International Parents

Many of the students that we teach are from expat, diplomatic and international backgrounds.

As the child of an ambassador, politician, CEO or public figure, you're often expected to move from country to country, city to city with hardly any prior notice. It isn't an easy life and it becomes harder when you're expected to sit some of the most challenging school entrance exams in the world.

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If you're the parent of an expat child, it's important that you understand many of the complexities that your child may be facing. 

These include:

  • Feeling lonely (because your child's friendship circle changes every time they move schools)
  • Feeling as if they don't belong
  • Lacking in confidence about their appearance, accent or mannerisms because they are 'different' from that of other children.

However, it's important to note that your child's unique international upbringing has many benefits that make them unique and therefore, you should encourage them to embrace the following qualities.

  • They have an innate ability to get along with people from every culture because they are a third culture kid.
  • They might speak multiple languages to a fluent or conversational level.
  • Your child might be more confident because expat life has given them the chance to see more of the world and use public speaking speaks on a regular basis.
  • Your child is likely to have a more varied and diverse perspective of the world because they have visited and lived in a variety of places. This also means that they have wonderful stories to tell; stories that make them stand out from the crowd.

To help your child with the 11+, SATs and other important exams, instil pride and confidence in them. Let them know that they have some incredible gifts that are unique to them because of their third culture background. Encourage them to embrace every aspect of who they are.