Boosting your child's vocabulary - The 11 Plus Journey

The 11 Plus Journey


Boosting your child’s vocabulary

Guest Post by SLC Tuition & publishing who are also collaborating with us in our Facebook group to provide weekly Vocab Booster Quiz
Recommended reading: An article that includes a list of Vocabulary sources. This list will help you have access to many sources to see what suits you & your child. 

Whichever 11+ exam your child is sitting, it is likely that vocab is a big concern. With words such as pallid, pigment and halcyon (purportedly) appearing in recent 11+ papers, it is clear that the bar is high and the stakes even higher. Outside of 11+ preparations it seems that having a wide vocabulary also acts as a good determinant of future success. ‘A child’s vocabulary is a big predictor of their future success,’ says Alice Penfold, Project Manager at the National Literacy Trust. ‘It not only affects their chances of performing well in exams, but also their life chances. For example, children who have a poor vocabulary at the age of five are four times more likely to struggle with reading as adults, and three times more prone to mental health issues.’

Bearing all of this in mind parents are, of course, keen to expand their child’s vocabulary as much as possible. However, with busy lives for both parents and children, it is often easier said than done. In addition to this, there are so many words in the English language it is impossible to learn all of them!

Therefore, the problem for parents is knowing which words to learn and how to organise their child’s studies. Based on these problems here are SLC Tuition & Publishing’s Three Top Tips to help you increase the breadth of your child’s vocabulary (and therefore increase their chances of 11+ success!).

  • Use words in context


Parents who are new to 11+ preparations often begin by attempting to cajole their children into learning hundreds and hundreds of word definitions. Whilst this is always with the best of intentions, we often find that this method leads to a poor retention rate i.e. children don’t remember the words and their meanings after a few weeks. The reason for this is that, by learning the definition only, rather than seeing the word in context, children are unable to assimilate the word into their pre-existing vocabulary scaffold.

By learning the word, its definition and seeing it used in context simultaneously, children can retain the word for future use, much more easily.

Therefore, our Top Tip # 1 is – learn the word in context (alongside learning the definition).


  • Organise small, manageable chunks


As all 11+ parents and tutors know, 11+ preparation is a marathon, not a sprint. Attempting to coax, coerce or bribe children into learning hundreds of words each week is always going to be an uphill struggle and will ultimately lead to a demotivated child and a stressed-out parent. Not to mention a poor retention rate!

By breaking down your vocabulary ‘to learn’ list into small, manageable chunks you will not only spare yourself a huge amount of stress you will also have a much more cooperative and motivated child. Vocabulary prep for the 11+ does not have to be stressful, providing that it is broken down into reasonably sized, feasible chunks.

Therefore, our Top Tip #2 is – use small, well organised chunks.

  • Make it fun!


Let’s face it – most children would rather be doing something else rather than 11+ prep! During the year(s) leading up to their exams we ask a lot of our children, and it is easy to see why some can end up feeling burnt out and overwhelmed by the time exam day comes around. Whilst it would be wrong to suggest that 11+ vocab prep can all be fun and games there are plenty of ways that you can make some elements of it more enjoyable!

Perhaps your child loves drawing and would like to draw pictures for some of the new words which they are learning, aspiring writers might like to incorporate their new words into their latest masterpiece, or your scrabble champion may enjoy trying to beat you or their siblings by using some of their newfound vocab.

Whichever way you use our Top Tip #3 is – make it fun (when possible)!

How we can help …

Our team at SLC Tuition & Publishing have been working with students for over a decade. Based on this experience and our Three Top Tips we have developed our vocab guide – Vocab Booster.

The book is split into 52 small, manageable lessons providing a well organised and easy to use guide. Each word listed in the book is accompanied by its meaning, synonyms, antonyms and, importantly, a sentence showing it used in context. As an added bonus there are over 150 quizzes, crosswords and drawing activities in order to make vocab prep more fun!

Parents love it – we have excellent reviews on Amazon. You can find the book here.


Best of luck!

SLC Tuition & Publishing









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