Four simple steps to staying 'match fit' for the upcoming 11+ season. With children having to cope with the stresses of lockdown and school closures, Ally provides some valuable advice on how to stay on track with 11 Plus preparation.
Just when we thought our lives were about as stressful as they could be, we were unceremoniously plunged into a new and unknown world. One where we had to work from home (if we were one of the lucky ones), look after and educate our kids, keep the house clean, worry about our loved ones from afar and all whilst keeping up with Joe Wicks!
Our children have been ripped from their routines and friends and are having to deal with the troubling realities of this new world. It’s a difficult time for us all and especially for our young ones. But if they also have their 11+ examinations looming, how can we help our kids to stay match fit whilst also being kind to their hearts and minds?
It may sound cliché, but training your mind to focus on what you have and are grateful for works. Positive minds are receptive minds and in difficult times like these, we need to work harder to stay positive. In our house, we say what we’re grateful for each night before we go to bed. But if you have older children maybe this could take the form of a gratitude jar that you fill and read at the end of a week, or a gratitude journal.
I always tell my students to do a little bit of work each day. It’s much more manageable and bearable for kids to do a small amount of study each day than to have to sit for hours on end during their summer break. Jointly plan a schedule that works for your family and try to stick to it, working towards mini rewards such as a favourite snack, a camp out in the garden or movie time.
With little else going on, now is the perfect opportunity to dig out the books, make a cosy nook somewhere in the house and read. A large vocabulary is one of the key indicators of a child’s success at school so read broadly, including fiction (classics and favourite, fun genres), non-fiction books and a children’s paper like ‘First News’ or ‘The Week Junior’. If your child is a reluctant reader take turns in reading a page at a time. Even if they are brilliantly proficient readers, there is still great benefit in being read to. It’s also a great opportunity to stop and discuss new vocabulary as it comes up and spend enjoyable, dedicated time together.
Bananagrams, Scrabble, Boggle, Battleships, Trivial Pursuit, anagrams, card games, hangman, word searches and crosswords; whilst a little old school in comparison to the latest apps, these types of games help to flex the thinking skills that are useful in the reasoning elements of the 11+. Plus, they’re a lot more enjoyable than worksheets!
I really feel for the youth in these challenging times and perhaps the consistency of their ongoing exam preparations may be of benefit, giving them something to anchor themselves to when so much has been taken away by Covid-19. In the meantime, I wish for happy and healthy preparations as we stride forwards into the new academic year, well-rested, sharp-minded and if we kept up our P.E with Joe, maybe even with a six pack!