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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.

Which Is Better: Group VS 1:1 Tuition?

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This is a really common question and a topic that divides a lot of parents.

To be frank, there are pros and cons to either form of tuition and the option that’s best really depends on your individual child’s needs and how they learn.

 

Here’s a breakdown of some of the differences, advantages and disadvantages of each approach. 

 

1:1 Tuition  - The Pros


Your child gets individual attention and detailed feedback. 

 

This has to be the greatest benefit of 1:1 lessons. However, it’s important to consider that not all tutors give feedback on a child’s performance and quite a few won’t provide feedback at the end of each lesson.  

 

When considering 1:1 lessons, make sure you ask the prospective tutor about how much feedback is given and how frequent it will be. 

 

Your child studies at their own pace. 

A good tutor will always ensure that your child is learning at a pace that suits their academic needs. This is really important. 

 

Ultimately, you don’t want to spend hundreds or even thousands on lessons that are either too fast paced or too slow. 

   Building a Home

With 1:1 lessons you have the benefit of knowing that your child’s lessons are building up gradually with the purpose of giving them a strong foundation in their key subjects.

 

Each lesson is a brick that lays the foundation for a beautiful home.

 

No Interference  

Another benefit of 1:1 lessons is that your child won’t be distracted or interrupted by other students. This is particularly important for children who get distracted easily and don’t cope well around their peers. 

If your child studies best on their own then 1:1 might be the best choice for them. 

 

   Cons

Whilst 1:1 lessons can be great, they do have their disadvantages. 

 

    Cost

 

If you’re on a budget then 1:1 lessons might not be the best choice as they are by far the most expensive form of tuition. 

 

   Academic Performance

Another disadvantage is that 1:1 lessons aren’t always better in terms of improving your child’s academic ability or performance.

For instance, 1:1 lessons inhibit the opportunity for children to learn from each other or to get tips from their peers on how to study a particular topic in an easy way.

 

Children often learn from their peers and 1:1 lessons take away the opportunity for your child to learn from someone their own age. 

      The Fun Factor

The final disadvantage of 1:1 lessons is that they aren’t always as fun as group classes. 

During group lessons children bounce ideas off of each other, think creatively and have fun. The fact that 1:1 lessons don’t involve other children means that the adventure and exhilaration of learning with others is taken away.

 

As you can see, the choice of picking 1:1 or group lessons isn’t an easy or straightforward one. You have to weigh up the pros and cons and look at them in relation to how your child learns.  

 

 The Hybrid Solution 

Personally, I believe that a combination of both tuition types tends to work best for most children.  For instance, having some 1:1 lessons followed by an intensive group course provides children with the best of both worlds.