If you live in an 11+ area then you will know that it can be an incredibly stressful time preparing and supporting your child through the entrance exam.
Supporting your child through the 11+ process doesn’t have to be arduous or stressful with our handy tips on how to incorporate essential skills into your child’s day. Whether you’re struggling with parent peer pressure about the need for a tutor, or worrying about how your child will cope, at least you can feel confident that you have some practical ways to support your child through the English part of the exam.
Read for meaning
Reading should not be a passive activity. Whenever you read with your child, take the opportunity to ask them questions to see how they have understood and interpreted the text. Don’t dismiss their ideas even if you think they’re wrong; instead, ask them to explain how they reached that interpretation. It is often the case that when a child revisits and re-examines something, they spot and correct their mistakes – this is an essential skill.
Sharing your own ideas helps to model the process, especially if you give some evidence. E.g. It says the girl ‘rolled her eyes’ when the boy spoke, so I don’t think she liked what he said.
Check out our previous blog post Questions to Ask Your Child when Reading for a list of great questions to support understanding.
Skim and scan
Being able to find and retrieve information quickly from a text is an important skill and there are some fun ways to practise. Bake a cake, for example, and have your child oversee the recipe. Asking questions during the baking process (such as, ‘Does the butter go in before or after the flour?’) will mean they need to scan and skim read the recipe to find the answer.
Readers make better writers
Some of the best preparation for writing is to read lots of different types of texts, such as newspapers, film reviews, instructions, letters etc. The more familiar you are with a style of writing, the easier it is to imitate it. First News is a great child appropriate newspaper to get stuck into.
Write for a purpose
Getting into the habit of writing down thoughts and ideas in sequence is important preparation because all writing needs a structure. Keeping a journal and writing letters to a pen pal are great ways to hone those skills and with an obvious purpose. Grab a copy of one of our Story Writing Activity Notebooks to help your child write for short bursts of time without feeling overwhelmed.
Many children find writing in timed conditions to be difficult. You can support this at home, for example, by asking your child to write you a story whilst you make dinner. You can give them time cues as their deadline approaches and read the story aloud over dinner. Have a look at our blog 30 great story writing titles for some ideas.
Nurture that imagination
Yes, the technical aspects of writing are important and our new grammar books can be a great resource for perfecting those. But you also need to have ideas and those come from imaginative minds. There are endless opportunities for encouraging creative thought, from asking what noise a cloud makes when it bumps into another cloud to inventing the most amazing ice cream combinations. For more ideas, check out 10 ways to let your child's imagination shine!
Helping our children’s learning at home makes us a wonderful resource but it’s important to remember that children also learn and use all these skills both implicitly and explicitly at school. Sometimes, our most important role when helping a child through the 11+ may well be to provide them with a hug and a safe space to decompress.