comprehension skills

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.

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.

3 Ways To Help Your Child Improve Their Comprehension Skills

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Many parents complain that their child struggles with comprehension.

Perhaps it’s because they struggle to understand the text, or perhaps it’s because they find it difficult to figure out what the question is asking of them.

Whatever the reason, there are things that you can do to help your child improve their ability to read and understand even the most complex of texts.

Here are five of our favourite comprehension boosting tips:

Create an environment of literacy in the home.

This is a piece of advice given by the wonderful Dr Kathryn Weston and it’s one that’s stayed in my mind for a long time.

What does it mean?

Well, many parents completely dismiss literacy at home and often prioritise Maths and Sciences because English is often deemed a less important subject. And then, all of a sudden they realise that their child actually needs to have strong English skills because literacy is assessed throughout a child’s education. Such parents then frantically begin hunting for an English Tutor and panic because there isn’t much time to help their child improve their comprehension skills.

Instead of doing this, you can create an environment of literacy in the home by doing some of the following:

  • Reading to your child at night.

  • Asking your child to read to you for 10 minutes each day.

  • Using vocabulary flash cards during meal times so that you can create table topics around them.

  • Asking them to re-write some of the stories they’ve read recently and read them aloud to friends and family.

By doing this, your child begins to understand how important it is to build strong English skills especially with regards to comprehension.

Encourage them to read a variety of classic and modern texts.

It’s so easy to encourage your child to stick with the usual “fun” books such as Diary of a Wimpy Kid but such books don’t necessarily encourage much creative thinking or help a child develop their deduction or inference skills. By encouraging your child to read a variety of texts, you’ll be helping them to create the skills needed to make studying comprehension much less difficult.

Use 10-minute boosters.

We love the CGP and Bond 10-Minute series of books because they enable children to improve their comprehension skills in such a short space of time. It’s therefore worth purchasing some of these books and gradually working through the books with them. Start by going through the books together, discuss the passages and then eventually encourage your child to complete the comprehension papers on their own. It takes just 10 minutes and it’s so worthwhile.

So, there you have it. Three of our favourite tips for improving comprehension skills.

If your child needs additional help with comprehension, consider purchasing our online course which enables students to study at their own pace. Click here to learn more.