In this blog, Claire gives you some guidance on how best to manage your child's 11+ preparation in the final month leading up to their entrance exams.
Panic may have set in, knowing that you have only a month left before the exams. This, combined with realising that you may only have around three or four sessions left with your tutor (based on one a week), can also add to your stress levels. Remember that every other parent is feeling the same, and it is so important not to let your child realise if you are anxious or worried! A lot can be accomplished in four weeks, so accept that it is now just about maintaining focus and excitement (with a little bit of nerves thrown in too). Keep to the plan of the topics or past-paper work that you and/or your tutor have scheduled. This routine and the enthusiasm shown will hopefully encourage your child to give that tiny extra bit of effort and focus in those last few sessions!
Your child’s school will be winding down for the holidays and, although most Year 6 classes will still be working, your child will not be able to miss the overall feel of slowing down, particularly if they have younger siblings! Keep the momentum up by having your normal sessions throughout the week as usual. Depending on the student and how long they have been working towards the exam, you will be able to decide whether to have an extra session that week or not. If you have a tutor, ask their advice. Will it make any difference? Will it make them focus more? Probably not, but keep an open mind at this point in time.
This will most likely be Christmas week, so enjoy the holiday! No presents of 11+ workbooks or assessment packs, please! Here you can ensure that your child gets plenty of practice in their speaking skills whilst they chat to family members over the holidays and become engaged in topical conversations.
Hopefully, you will have saved around 2 past papers or sample papers from a mixture of the schools that your child is sitting exams for. Remember there not only needs to be time for your child to complete the papers, but also adequate time to go through them, checking for silly mistakes. It is normally best to go through the paper as close as possible to your child having sat it, so perhaps the next day, or if they sit it in the morning, go through it in the evening. This is not the time for cramming though! A couple of papers to keep the brain ticking over and in gear will be more than enough. Any more and most children will resent their holiday time being taken up, and rightly so! Remember enjoyment and enthusiasm is a huge factor in success.
Here, your child will most likely be sitting exams for a few different schools which will add up to a lot of hours of tests! There should be no tutoring or exam practice this week. Instead allow your child to rest, play some sport, read their book and eat some healthy food and, again, get plenty of rest. If you are really worried that they are going to forget everything perhaps every other day go over four or five questions that they completed a while ago but got wrong. This means that, whilst it is not something completely new and unknown so their confidence remains strong, it is challenging enough so that they are still learning.
Also don’t forget, each morning, your child needs a big smile, a hug and a good luck wish, alongside a reminder to read the question! Then, when they come home after a long day of tests, they all deserve an even bigger hug, a massive smile and also a HUGE well done!