tutoring for children

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.

How To Prepare For The 11+ or ISEB During The Summer Holidays

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Good morning parents,

As we approach the summer holidays it’s very easy to reduce the focus on learning but this is one of the best times to help your child with 11+ exam preparation.

Make each day count.

Here are some fun ways to do this:

- Make the most of the sunshine. Instead of going outside, study in the park, at the beach or in the garden - it’s beautiful, relaxing and...free.

- Make the most of your local library. It’s a great time to go to the library as a family or even take day trips exploring different libraries across the UK. My local incorporates AI technology (Artificial Intelligence) and children love it.

You could search for some of the UK’s best libraries and spend a day visiting each one or pick three or four libraries to visit over the summer.

- Complete the 10-minute test books. I am a huge fan of 10-minute test books because they’re so convenient for busy children and marking them is quite straightforward. There’s also no excuse when it takes just 10 minutes to complete a paper. Make it a habit to complete a few papers each day.

That leads me to my next tip.

- If you’re travelling abroad, pack a 10-minute book for each subject (English, Maths, Verbal and Non-Verbal Reasoning), plus reading books or a Kindle and electronic dictionary. Go through vocabulary cards, apps or flash cards on the plane, train or in the car 🚗.

The key takeaway is to make everyday meaningful and productive. That doesn’t mean your child need to study excessively, far from it, create a routine that’s easy and enjoyable to stick to so that it’s easy for your child to follow through and complete their revision.

One final tip which was inspired by 11+ Mum, Shola Alabi, is to eat healthy and limit your child’s intake of sugary foods. It’s easy to indulge during the holiday season as there’s an abundance of popcorn, candy floss and sugary drinks but a healthy body fosters a healthy brain so try to swap high sugar foods for healthier alternatives such as fruits, vegetables, water and crackers (instead of chocolates).

Shola also adds that parents should go through corrections. This is vital - your child can complete a million papers but if they don’t understand why they’re making mistakes and learn the correct techniques, they’ll never make significant progress.

I hope the above tips were helpful - if you have any other insights to share please leave a comment with them below 🙂

If you’re looking for great free learning resources, head over here to sign up for worksheets and printables.

How Tutors can Influence Children's Learning?

 How Tutors can Influence Children's Learning?

People who spend a considerable amount of time with young children create an impact.  For tutors, this impact has to ideally be about their tutees’ learning. 

Creating a positive impact on learning – this is the motive behind every tutor’s curriculum.  Making this possible involves several methods.  It demands a certain level of experimentation in the part of the tutor. 

Furthermore, tutors have to carefully consider the responses made by their tutees.  These identified responses will help tutors decide if they are to proceed with their teaching schemes or hop on another technique.

The following sections explore the different schemes and themes essential in causing a positive learning-impact.

Show how fun it is to learn

Things done in the name of fun endure.    

Tutors who are up against such challenge usually opt to devise a game out of quizzes.  Tutees who are in love with puzzles are given puzzle-laden math problems.  The amount of creativity involved in making learning fun depends in at least two factors:

  •       Tutee’s response in these ‘fun’ learning activities
  •      Tutor’s willingness to innovate

Show dedication

The tutees may be young, but they aren’t blind.  They can see the hard work tutors spend on the tutorials.  They are aware (though not fully-aware) about the time spent in creating, developing, or procuring learning resources.  They might not show it, but tutees do know.

When tutees see just how much effort their tutor is pouring in tutorials, they can’t help but try their best.  Several stories of dedication do create such a ripple of effect; the most famous of course is inspiration.

Exhibit critical skills

Another interesting variable that tutees could rub off from tutors are their showcased skills.  As a tutor, do you make it a point to listen attentively?  Are you receptive of all kinds of questions – both smart and dumb questions?

Listening, writing, and analytical skills – whatever it is worth showcasing, tutors must illustrate them.  Do those in a consistent fashion and tutees won’t have a problem doing the same. 

 

Validate virtues

At a tutee’s precocious years, they’re still bound to love hearing good feedback about their performance.  But when tutors step out of the line and commend an exhibited virtue (like patience), they are doing more for the tutee.

Tutors may be bound to the rules of their own benchmarks; but they are also adults.  And as an adult, their role to affirming virtues stays immovable.

Know the tutee’s learning style

To best connect with the child, tutors must see to it that they are well-oriented with the child’s learning style or styles.  This information is guaranteed to save tutors from trouble.  In most cases, neglect to realise the tutee’s learning style could result to a total waste of time: tutors offer a curriculum that doesn’t fit with the child’s learning style, or worse, counters it.

Making lessons that are attuned to the tutee’s learning style is not the only important factor here.  Tutees must also be made aware of their own learning style.  Perhaps, they could be interested with other learning styles. 

Enabling the tutee to realise not just one, but more learning styles is probably, one of the greatest achievements tutors could have.

Evolve with the tutee

Finally, tutors must be able to show ‘growth’ to their tutees to encourage them to grow as well.  This growth may come in the form of knowledge, skills, dreams or aspirations.  In fact, a tutor can weave a path towards their own growth together with their young tutee.  This path should be filled with opportunities.

In this weaving, it would be very important for tutors to prepare clear and accurate answers (in contrast to vague retorts or generalisations).  With such evolution in show, tutees gain realistic insights and not just knowledge.  

About the author:

James Harlan is an aspiring novelist and a young community leader.  His commitment to do well at the university spans wide: he devotes his extra hours for assisting students in their essay assignments, research, and statistics. He merges traditional education with the trending online courses.  He promotes lifelong learning and academic success through his contributions in the blogs, Master Dissertations and Oxbridge Dissertation.

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