Year 3, Year 4 or Year 5? Where do I start? What do I do?
If you are a parent new to the 11 plus, a valid and common question you may have is : when should you start preparing your child for the 11 plus tests? How to start is another worry. This is to be expected if you are someone who doesn’t know much about the 11 plus tests and it is the first time you are approaching it.
Most people start the 11 plus preparation in Year 4, some begin earlier and some leave it to Year 5. There is no right or wrong year to start. It depends on where your child is at academically, how much extra work he/she has the time and inclination to do along with school work and other factors such as readiness.
Try to enjoy the 11 plus Journey and take this as an opportunity to build a strong foundation for your child’s academic progress. Besides academics, it is also a chance to work on discipline, speed, scheduling. These are essential life habits which will stand in good stead in secondary school and indeed, later life.
Here are a few steps to get you started.
1. Make a list of school you would like to target and study their test criteria, pattern. Read carefully about catchment areas and rules regarding how long you should be living in the area, this is being more heavily enforced to stop admissions fraud and temporary housing. Find out your target school tests pattern and the exam boards they use- GL/CEM.
2. Decide whether you want to use a tutor or help your child at home. Make sure you research the tutor before signing up with them.
3. Start at-home practice by using publications such as Letts, CGP, Bond etc. make sure they are age-appropriate and suitable for the level of work your child can do. Set out a daily or weekly time and get work done.
4. Work on strengthening foundations and clearing concepts in both Maths and English. For example, in Maths work on basic operations addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, with/without decimal, timetables, mental maths, fraction, percentage etc. For English, this would mean working on building vocabulary, spellings, reading and comprehension.
5. Read regularly and widely with your child- if time and circumstances permit. Build a strong vocabulary and use this in everyday conversation. Make a ‘vocabulary book’ to note down new and difficult words with meanings and opposites and perhaps even a sentence using the words. Read this article- ‘Five a day’ A great way to learn vocabulary’ by famous 11 plus writer Sheena Ager.
6. Spend time with your child and you will discover your child’s strong and weak points- which will guide you into further study areas as days progress.
You may want to consider signing up to online 11 plus subscription sites for added support or if you are thinking of preparing your child at home, again these websites will be helpful.
If you are targeting independent schools, you may have to prepare your child for interviews. Read this interesting piece on interview preparation. For information on pre-tests and ISEB, read this article.
You can find discussions similar to this topic on the 11 plus Journey Group on Facebook.
Have additional tips on how and when to get started on the 11 plus Journey? Leave a comment below.