Anyone else stressed about 11+ tutoring?

(60 Posts)
MyMimsy Thu 27-Sep-12 16:44:53

DD has just gone into Yr 5, and has just started her 11+ tutoring with a private tutor. I'm actually against intensive tutoring for the 11+ but it's very much the culture around here, with even very clever children getting extra coaching.

DD is clever. She got all level 3s at the end of Yr 2, and her teacher is confidently predicting she'll easily get all Level 5s at the end of Yr 6, with even a chance of a Level 6 in Reading.

Her tutor has an excellent local reputation, and having assessed her he has assured us that she is definitely grammar school material. DD has had 2 sessions with him so far, she says she enjoyed them and that she likes him. She has been happy to do the homework (approx. 2 hours per week) and has tackled it well, just needing a few prompts from DH and myself.

So, why do I feel so stressed about the whole thing. She's only 9.5 and I just think it's quite unnatural to ask a child to use their brains in (what I feel) is quite an unusual/artificial fashion. I just don't think it's normal for a child to be wrestling with non-verbal reasoning problems. It all seems very brutal. And I didn't expect there to be so much homework, either.

As I said, DD is clever but she's quite laidback and dreamy and I suppose I just feel so sad that she's on the 11+ treadmill now.

The alternative comprehensives really aren't an option (they're dire) and DH thinks I'm being silly and sentimental. He thinks we'd be doing DD a huge disservice if we don't help her get into the grammar school.

DogsCock Thu 27-Sep-12 16:47:42

How long is the tutoring? One hour a week? or more? Plus 2 hours homework is that per week?

Does she currently have homework from school to be doing as well?

I think, the most important thing is not to put too much emphasis on the 'must pass' or life is over. Recipe for a messed up teen.

Theas18 Thu 27-Sep-12 16:54:33

What is the grammar school situation round you ? Supersselective or "normal" ie pass the test, live near enough and get a place?

Does she lie high enough in her cohort academically to get a place ? We are a superselective area and honestly the kids were hitting all level 5s before midwat through year 5, nit the end if year 6 ( no level 6 then)

I certainly don't think you or your child should be stressing about it ((()))).

"it's not normal for a child to be wrestling with non verbal reasoning" ...... Disagree- but maybe that's me / mine. Puzzles are fun, things like what are the numbers of the sides of the die that you can't see and similar were normal things she the kids were small - they'd ask, wd explain how to work it out etc

Her tutor should be doing fun stuff not just hundreds of past papers- ask them what else/ how else they can ok with her especially as you have plenty of time.

Do you have a plan b eg private school if you are so anti your comps?

MyMimsy Thu 27-Sep-12 17:08:44

Thea - It's not super, super selective and not every child in the area sits the exam. The grammar takes roughly the top 20% every year.

She's always been on the top table for maths and literacy, and got two Level 4cs in these areas at the end of Yr 4, so maybe she might hit some Level 5s before the end of Yr 5, I don't know?

Her tutor says he will do some word puzzles with her, a little bit of creative writing, and some number games just to break up the monotony of past papers. But, everything is generally geared to fire up her brain that little bit more, and get her exercising the grey matter.

DD appears quite open to all this and says she enjoys her sessions with him.

piggywigwig Thu 27-Sep-12 17:56:25

DD2 has just done the 11+ for a super-selective. She probably sat at pretty much the same level as your DD, when she was starting Yr 5. We didn't have a tutor as I've done it myself.

At the moment, your DD says she's enjoying it and that's so positive smile You know your daughter better than anyone else, so keep a little eye on her to make sure that she pretty much continues loving it wink. There is sometimes a "honeymoon period" wink
Always remember that you're in the driving seat - if it looks like she's starting to look upon it as a PITA, then you can do something about it smile - that can be anything from calling a halt, to pulling back a little, to changing tack on how the work is being approached. You hold the purse-strings - you're the client. I know that some tutors are like gold-dust and put on a pedestal but your daughter is your number one priority.

Non-verbal reasoning and verbal reasoning are such fun and in this, I agree with Theas18. Mine have always found them 10 times more fun and less artificial than conventional school stuff. Don't worry, if she is the sort of person who gets all fired-up about them, then she'll genuinely thrive on the "quiz" or "puzzle" aspect of them.

Do you know what tests she's doing ie Verbal reasoning, Non-Verbal Reasoning, Maths, English?

Sadly the 11+ is harsh in that for many, it's a one-shot exam - no re-takes (unless you class 12+, 13+ etc which not all areas have). It's probably one of the few exams where you don't get another chance to re-sit. For a large number of children, it's the 10+ and that does infact seem a lo of pressure to place upon such young minds and emotions. It's as much about exam technique, as sitting there and showing your reasoning skills. Many's the time I've looked at her and agonized over it all - she's still so young.
Keep talking to her and be supportive - come on here and vent/cry/laugh etc smile

For what it's worth, I survived and passed, my DD1 took it, didn't pass and survived unscathed and totally grounded, DD2 has survived and is very happy. We're waiting for her results wink

jeee Thu 27-Sep-12 18:08:54

I think you need to stop thinking about the comprehensives as being dire (unless you can afford to go private). It won't help your DD's stress levels if you are so negative about the alternatives to the grammar. And I think it is important for a child to understand that they may not pass (even when everyone says they're a dead cert). It's a one-off test and anyone can have a bad day.

My DS has just done his eleven plus, and is currently doing the secondary school trail. He is looking at both grammar and high schools (the non-selective schools in our area). We try to be positive about the high schools - not least because a number of his friends who did not even take the test will be going to them, so we don't want our son to be negative about them, even if he does pass.

piggywigwig Thu 27-Sep-12 18:34:10

"I think you need to stop thinking about the comprehensives as being dire"

With respect, and with no wish to offend, it's very hard for many parents to view their DC's post-primary school choices as anything but dire, when they know from their other DC's experiences that they are infact, worse than dire wink

Most sensible parents won't communicate their fears/worries/negativity to their DC's and none of us should assume OP would do that wink

The trouble can often come, when a younger DC has already seen their elder sibling come home, torn to shreds, so-to-speak, at their catchment school.

I'd love to know how I can stop myself from thinking that my alternative choices are "dire" - bet I'm not on my own in being desperate to know how to achieve that wink

breadandbutterfly Thu 27-Sep-12 18:43:04

Passing the 11+ is not the be-all and end-all - and even the very brightest child can have an off day so no point in putting her or yourself under that much pressure. If she's enjoying it, that's fine and she is not being harmed in any way. The only 'pressure' she could be under that could harm her is if YOU present it as crucial that she passes and that she will be a 'failure' if she doesn't pas.

Actually, if she is a bright, hard-working child, she will do well in any school she goes to and any achool will be lucky to get her - not the other way around.

DogsCock Thu 27-Sep-12 18:43:37

What is your back-up plan if things don't go her way on the day?

Hopefully you won't need it, but you need to have one iyswim

jeee Thu 27-Sep-12 18:47:33

The thing is, piggywig, wig, loads of parents do communicate their fears and negativity to their DCs. One parent explained to us how their son didn't want to practice at all, but they'd explained to him that he'd never get an audi if he didn't pass the test. And no, the parent wasn't joking.

Other parents refuse to look at the non-grammars - and cling on to hopes of appeals until their child actually starts at the local high school.

It is important to be open minded to the possibility of not going to grammar school - because no child is guaranteed a place.

piggywigwig Thu 27-Sep-12 19:05:00

It's absolutely spot-on to try to ensure that DC's know it doesn't really matter if they don't get a place at GS.

DD1 still did spectacularly well, eventually, despite not having a seat at GS. However, I would so hate to be the harbinger of doom but it doesn't always follow that a bright, hard-working child will do well in any school. In theory yes, it's true but our experience proves that it isn't always the case, even when the school has clear, well defined streaming. On paper, the school regarded themselves as fortunate to have the academically-able children but that's where their commitment allegedly ended. I think it's important to be aware of both sides - we certainly are.
Maybe we've become too battle-hardened? We're certainly more wordly-wise

It's not an easy decision, when you know what can happen to a bright, conscientious, self-motivated child at some schools - even when they do promise the moon wink

That's why some parents agonise over this.

11+ equals pressure - as parents we have to try to do our best not to make it a "pass or else" situation.

LinedupandWaiting Thu 27-Sep-12 19:21:50

Thinking of starting up as a private tutor. Have 2 bright kids myself whose education I've "supplemented" all along. Have a PhD (in Chemistry) with Uni level maths & physics, so comfortable with maths, physics, chemistry & primary stuff, but no formal "teaching qualifications". If I advertised, would anyone be interested/trust me or do parents only want qualified teachers?

Coconutty Thu 27-Sep-12 19:36:23

I really, really hate 11+ tuition.

What happens when the kids who get into a GS can't cope with the work? I hate seeing kids in this situation and it happens every year here. sad

DogsCock Thu 27-Sep-12 19:45:53

similar here coconutty - or tutored to within an inch of their lives, and still don;t get into a gs. I have seen those children, and it is heartbreaking when they have to walk into primary school and tell the other children they did not get through.

I have also walked behind a mother who had picked up her year 6 son from school and her first words were
#well you let yourself down on the verbal reasoning, so you haven;t passed, but we will be appealing#

I wanted to tap her on the shoulder and then punch her on the nose. Incidentally, the child in question did get in on appeal only to leave after 1 year because he couldn;t cope. Yes, he had been tutored to death just to passs the 11 plus, but clearly could not keep up with the naturally brainy gs boys.

Please remember, your work is not done when they gain a place. One of the gs heads says to parents that if their child was tutored to get the place, please continue to get them tutored throughout their time there. In other words if they needed a tutor to get there they will need one even more now. Wise words.

Saying all this, if your other choices are so dire, I can understand why some parents so desperately want their children to get in to a good school.

Theas18 Thu 27-Sep-12 19:49:49

Lined up id have no problem employing you if you clicked with the kids. Have you looked into crb checks? I suspect that may be a problem if you aren't working in, or volunteering in an area that would get you one done. It seems there isn't a pathway fr private individuals to apply..

LinedupandWaiting Thu 27-Sep-12 19:54:25

Forgot to say I have some school experience (as a volunteer) and have also helped with Brownies so do have CRB checks. Good point 'though Theas. Thanks for that.

NimpyWindowMash Thu 27-Sep-12 19:59:29

Lot's of things are artificial though aren't they? A lot of the maths problems at school are artificial.
You're not being silly and sentimental, of course it's natural to not want to put our kids under pressure. But since it seems she is able to handle it, she says she's enjoying it, and it will ultimately be in her best interests, I think you are doing the right thing.

racingheart Sat 29-Sep-12 19:39:07

You don't need to worry. Of all tests they need to sit, NVR is the one they like most, even though it's hard. Just call them puzzles. My DC ask to do them when they're ill. They see it as similar to word searches or sudoku - just fun brain teasers.

Three hours a week is nothing. It's not tiger mum territory. Allow her to enjoy it. Behave as though learning is fun, being bright is fun, doing your best is fun and she'll pick up on your attitude.

piggywigwig Sun 30-Sep-12 13:24:11

I was tutored at school for the 11+ - I didn't struggle at GS, didn't need a tutor and got in a Russell Group University with an amazing offer. I'm not bragging, merely saying that I think it's important to mention that it's a gross generalisation that's often kicked around as an idea, but not necessarily true, that tutored children struggle.

Here's something for us all to ponder on...we had girls in my year at GS who struggled - they'd passed but hadn't had any tutoring at all - this was in the days when you didn't generally have tutors. So...how does one explain girls who passed the one Verbal Reasoning 11+ test, without tutoring, still struggling?
If one argues that, by not tutoring at all, then the naturally bright, able children will rise to the top of the pile of 11+ candidates and therefore not struggle at GS, then that isn't necessarily true. If only life were that simple and people could be placed into nice, neat little categories wink

As far as tutoring is concerned, I too have concerns about some children who may have been tutored to the hilt on say, an 11+ exam that comprises only Verbal Reasoning or NVR for that matter. However, I'd be genuinely interested to hear peoples' ideas and thoughts on how a child can sit an exam where the Maths is based on the entire KS2 syllabus and probably a bit of KS3, when the children who are sitting it, have only been in YR 6 for 2 or 3 weeks?
Again, another genuine question. Do people feel it's inappropriate/unacceptable to explain to the children how to do all of KS2 maths concepts/syllabus in preparation for facing the inevitably challenging questions in the 11+ Maths exam?
I could tutor a child to the nth degree in KS2 Maths but they still have to sit there and work out what the question is all about and apply the knowledge they have, in a quick, accurate and appropriate way wink
I have mixed thoughts on tutoring because of my experiences. However, I know for sure, that I long for an 11+ exam system in this country that's about as tutor-proof as you can get. But even with that, you'll get some little fishies getting through the net, who'll pass and struggle when they get to GS because NVR/VR aren't curriculum subjects - and let's face it, you can be a whizz at those but still struggle wink

Elibean Sun 30-Sep-12 14:21:56

Hear hear re those little fishes wriggling through the net.

Aged 11 (with no tutoring, but a million years ago) I was a whizz at NVR and VR, my brain just worked that way. I was also a lazy thing who didn't bother with subjects that didn't interest me, so if my school had picked me on the basis of my 11+......wink

letseatgrandma Sun 30-Sep-12 20:27:24

Despite passing the 11+ 25 years ago myself without any tutoring, that situation very rarely occurs any more round here which is sad. Unfortunately, if you want your DC to stand a chance (certainly in my area though I can't speak for anyone else's county) you need to play the game.

I didn't get a tutor for DS, but familiarised him with what was needed myself. He gets the results next month, so we shall see how good I was then! I contemplated getting a tutor, but the only thing I absolutely wanted was someone who was a primary school teacher. DH then pointed out to me that as I was a primary school teacher, I should just get on with it; it has worked really well.

As to the person who had a science PhD and wanted to tutor; no, I probably wouldn't see that as relevant for primary/11+ and would opt for someone with a teaching qualification. If any of my DC were struggling in secondary science though, that would be different and I'd probably consider you for that!

APMF Thu 04-Oct-12 09:13:13

Why do posters continue to go on about how children who past 11+ sometimes struggle once in? The entrance requirement is a reflection of demand and often bears no relation to what is required to keep up once in.

DialMforMummy Thu 04-Oct-12 09:39:40

If your DD does not get in after two year of tutoring, then she is not up to it.
GS education is great for the right children and can be an awful experience for the kids who only made it because they got tutored to death.
GS should not be about who has the money to tutor their kids. It should be tutoring-proof so it is actually fulfilling what it was meant to be. I really really think it is wrong to tutor your DC (in case you had not picked up on that!) for the 11+.
Anyway, as some else said, you should have a plan B in place.

sue52 Thu 04-Oct-12 10:51:03

3 hours sounds a lot of extra work for a 9 year old. Are the 2 hours a week homework really necessary as she already has a tutor for an hour? If I were you, I would hold back the additional work for the summer holidays to ensure she doesn't peak too early and get bored with the constant reasoning tests.

This is third time round for me and I think that you are doing far too much too early. Dd2 is in year five and has an hour a week which will step up next year.

We are aiming for superselective like ds. I think they crash and burn otherwise.

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