For many parents the run-up to the 11+ exams can be loaded with pressure and stress aiming towards the top exam results. Preparations often include anything from endless choruses of times tables in the car, to frenzied trips to Waterstones to introduce your child to the code riddles, complete-the-pattern questions and other choice tortures laid out for them in a non-verbal reasoning paper. If, like many parents, you have already employed or are thinking of employing a private tutor to take these matters on, then you are on the right track for alleviating this pressure, making room for both a more relaxed and enjoyable relationship with your child as well as improvements in their exam performance.
I know what you’re thinking: I would say that wouldn’t I, what with being one of these ‘tutor folk’ myself. However, the main point I wish to make is that as their parent you can add huge value to the academic success your tutor will bring forth with complementary extra-curricular activities. Leave the times tables and comprehension highs and lows to us; and take the time to enjoy your child and to nurture their confidence, creativity and curiosities.
Take them to national museums, children’s art exhibitions, and famous sports grounds or discover a library together. If your child is a budding scientist, go exploring and try to spot as many different animals, insects or tree types as you can. If they are artistic then encourage art classes, pottery classes or drama classes. Get them truly excited about reading, try and find the silliest words in the dictionary, encourage them to choose a style of writing that they like the most and learn about that genre and its authors. I am one of five siblings so I know more than most that not every child is the same, and by encouraging children to explore possibilities you will undoubtedly find things they are passionate about which you can then nurture and support.
Activities, games and classes like this will provide your child with the enthusiasm and curiosity that potential schools are so eager to see. The difference between an interested and eager child versus one who knows the cube root of 216 but hasn’t a passionate word to say is one that won’t go unnoticed. Of course the fact is these children do need to achieve the standards that the schools and examination boards require; they need to navigate the language of exams, be familiarised with those clinical looking answer papers and know how to plot a graph in seconds, but that is exactly what we are here for.
So while we manoeuvre the delights of trapeziums and gradients, abstract nouns and sentence syntax into understandable terms, you get to nurture the mind of your child. In this way their inspired outlook along with their developed examination skills (all taken care of) will make them an asset to any school.