parenting advice

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.

 

Are All Tutors The Same? 4 Signs Your Child's Tutor Is The Wrong Pick

Bad Tutors These days it seems as if everyone (or every child) has a private tutor.

In fact, research shows that 25% of children living in London will receive some form of tutoring during their academic lifetime.

That means that 1 out of every 4 children are tutored in some way or another.

It's no wonder why tutoring is a £100 million industry (in the UK) and a multi-billion dollar industry globally.

With so many people offering tutoring services, how does a parent know whether a tutor is wrong for their child?

I've personally observed that many parents are focused on the wrong things when it comes to choosing a tutor for their child.

Here are four clear signs that signal that a tutor isn't the right fit for your child.

Pay careful attention to them because many parents miss these vital things.

Sign 1.

They are clueless about the curriculum. It doesn't matter if your child

is learning algebra, Shakespeare or calculus, their learning needs to fit around

some sort of curriculum especially if the child is sitting an exam on the subject.

Ask your tutor during the first meeting whether they are well versed on the relevant

curriculum for the subject they're teaching in.

Sign 2.

They're a know-it-all.

Remember those teachers at school who just rambled on and on about random things that were in hardly relevant to the subject?

The teachers who just went on and on and on and on but didn't actually break down a topic into bite sized chunks? Those types of 'teachers' aren't really that great.

In fact, they'll usually just chatter away for an hour or two talking about something that's irrelevant to your child's learning and will bill you for all that talk after!

Make sure you either sit-in on the first lesson or have a mini-interview (or even a casual talk) with your child's tutor so that you can decipher whether they're a chitter-chatterer or a genuinely great teacher.

Sign 3.

They are money-greedy.

Notice that I didn't use the word money-hungry? Money-hungriness in itself

isn't a bad thing (we all need to earn a living don't we?)

However, money-greedy tutors usually only care about one thing-

earning more money without proving a service that is valuable to their clients.

Signs that your tutor is money-greedy include things like not turning up to lessons whilst expecting to be paid, constantly increasing their prices without proper notification and

sending invoices for lessons that didn't take place (yes some tutors do that!)

The fourth and final sign is that they're not passionate about teaching!

Good teachers and tutors love educating others and genuinely gain at least a sprinkle of joy from their jobs.

Bad tutors hate their jobs and are only in it for the money or because they have nothing else to do or can't be asked to find another job.

Have you ever come across or hired a bad tutor? What did they do that was wrong? What signs did you notice that weren't great? Leave a comment below and share your experience.

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