When is the best time to start preparing your dc for 11 plus?

(14 Posts)
Joyn Tue 13-Dec-11 16:16:24

We live in a grammar school area & I would like ds to do his 11 plus, when the time comes, (which I believe will be the October when he is in yr6). I'm not into hot house tutoring or anything, but know for a fact that even the very brightest dcs who took the test last year from his school didn't get in.

He is very able & various teachers have told me he is clever enough to go to grammar school, so I was thinking of getting a tutor for him (1x a week for an hour,) from the start of yr 5, to help him prepare, understand how the exams work, what they are assessing, practise the types of questions they ask etc.

But others have told me they should be preparing throughout yr4, because otherwise they'll be disadvantaged, particularly against dcs in privates schools, (there are a couple of private primaries nearby whose main focus seems to be preparing dcs for 11 plus - their numbers increase dramatically for ks2). So should I be doing extra work with him in yr4, (either focused on 11+ or more general academic stuff, in maths & literacy concerning whatever nc level he is working towards at the time,) or do I need to be thinking about a tutor earlier than I'm planning (will the best ones get full, if I wait until the beginning of the academic year)?

He is currently yr3 & I don't do any extra work with him, just follow schools advice/guidelines on homework, which is to encourage him to read widely & discuss books/plots lines/language/empathy/understanding etc with him & in maths to learn/practise timetables, workout shopping totals/change, alongside the more specific weekly homework tasks he gets. He was assessed NC level 3b, across the board at the end of yr 2 & has been a free reader since start of yr1.

iggly2 Tue 13-Dec-11 20:26:49

Hi,
I am not in a grammar area but my family (including me) all went to grammar schools. We never had tutors but did use the "bond" books for practice and our school organised a mock exam. I found a lot of the old bond books in the attic the other day and they were quite good they also are not that disimilar to the new bond books. I remember the books as being similar to the exam so hopefully they still are.

Joyn Wed 14-Dec-11 21:25:57

Thanks Iggly! Dcs school don't do anything to help with 11+ prep unfortunately, although one of his teachers did mention the bond books. What age would you recommend using them from? Should I get some in yr 4? Also, I've noticed they're age rated, if he's working at a level 2yrs above the average for his age group, would I be better off getting him books aimed at a slightly older group, or are they quite challenging anyway?

iggly2 Wed 14-Dec-11 21:39:13

With the non verbal and verbal reasoning (check what parts the schools in your area do) I would say start at a child's chronological age or maybe just one year above . This is as the tests maybe very new to him.

With the English see how they compare to the work he does at school and maybe get 2 years above if appropriate, ditto with the maths.

The maths (and English) bond papers are quite challenging (in a another thread I said I thought in some areas the 11+ maths papers are more challenging than GCSEs as the papers cover less topics BUT in more challenging/thoughtful ways).

singinggirl Wed 14-Dec-11 21:39:35

I would recommend the Bond books too, especially the ten minute tests. I didn't go for a tutor, because I didn't want my DS1 to scrape in due to tutoring and then struggle once he was there, so we did it in a more low key way - 10 minutes of 'early morning work' before school each day. Some days were tables etc instead of 11+ focused and DS2 used the same time to do tables, number bonds etc. I started with the books for his age halfway through year 4 and then he accelerated a bit. It is better for their confidence to start at a level where they can get high scores than to be put off! I just let him get on with them really, unless there was something he asked me to explain.
DS1 is year 6 and passed his eleven plus with top marks in every paper, so it worked for us. We still have 'early morning work', mainly focusing on music theory at the moment, so the whole structure of it has been really useful!

iggly2 Wed 14-Dec-11 21:41:45

Well done to miniSinginggirl smile

Joyn Thu 15-Dec-11 12:38:02

Thanks iggly/singing girl - Ill get him some bond books next year! In the meantime I was just wondering what your dcs did/do out of school for fun, that might count as academically helpful. Apart from his official homework (reading, music practise, & weekly homework,) he never chooses to do anything even vaguely educational & it's getting more difficult to encourage this side of him? He gets obsessed with weird things like match attacks, (learning the stats etc). And had his school report yesterday & although things aren't sliding, he's only predicted to go up 1/3 this year & he's on target, but it's the first time ever he's not exceeding his targets! His teacher also says his writing isn't as strong as he'd hoped. He's got the ideas, but isn't getting them down on paper!

sarahfreck Mon 19-Dec-11 17:25:23

Hi there. I am a tutor who sometimes teaches for 11+ and independent entry exams ( as well as many other things too!! grin )

Firstly - find out about 11+ in your area - many areas are different to each other and even different grammars in the same area have different entry exams. You can check the individual school's websites ( many will send out sample papers or telly you the types of paper they use.) the 11+.co.uk website has really useful info too..

Based on where I am (near Trafford LEA) I would say the following:

Year 4 - work with him yourself on the following types of things - making sure he is perfect with x tables, working on mental maths, learning number bonds etc, reading widely and discussing what he reads.
You could also do the bond books for Year 4 (age 8-9) picking the ones that correspond to the exams he will do for particular schools (usually some combination of English, Maths, Verbal and Non-verbal reasoning but maybe not all of these). I'd start with his age ones as they are aimed at higher ability children - you can always move up a book if he is finding it too easy. To begin with I'd work through these together, talking about and explaining questions. that way you can pick up on any weak spots and do any additional teaching/learning needed. Don't do too much so he is put off and don't leave him to do it on his own to start with. Kid are usually more motivated if they see it as a joint project with a parent.

There are special techniques it is worth learning in particular with verbal reasoning so if you need to do these papers, you might want to get a book like Bond's "How to do Verbal Reasoning" so you can see the techniques and teach them. There are also videos of these on the 11+.co.uk website.

All this, as well as the stuff he is doing in school and things you are already doing will give him a great foundation for the more specifically 11+ related stuff!

I would get him a tutor for year 5 as s/he will know more details of what is required particularly for your area and for different schools. Contact tutors in Year 4 though and see if you can book a place for Year 5 as tutors may get booked up in advance. Word of mouth is probably the best recommendation for a good tutor.

Joyn Mon 19-Dec-11 18:15:47

Thank you for your very comprehensive answer Sarah. Lots of useful information. smile all makes sense & makes me feel a bit happier that we understand what to do!

perfectparent1 Sat 15-Sep-12 22:57:32

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spababe Thu 20-Sep-12 10:51:46

Be aware (which I wasn't with my first DS) that the maths 11+ includes topics that are not covered by the core curriculum when they take the 11+ in the October eg algebra is covered later in year 6.

My first DS did not take the 11+ in the end as it was too stressy for him and he would have not been happy at the grammar but the second DS takes it in a few weeks and has had 1 hrs tutoring per week since Christmas plus 30 mins homework. If he can't get in on this basis then I think he would struggle to cope when he is there and would be better off with DS1 at the Comp. DS1 is in top sets at the comp and very happy.

Joyn Sun 23-Sep-12 08:24:11

Thanks Spababy. smile It was only by chance I saw your reply - Avnet been on mn for ages & I posted my query at the end of last year.very useful to know!

mums999 Mon 12-Nov-12 23:01:59

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FastLoris Tue 27-Nov-12 23:17:55

I agree with sarahfreck about the importance of targeting things to your particular area or schools. Different 11+ exams can be very different indeed.

I also agree with the comment about doing it yourself. If you're half decently educated, it's really not that difficult. And you'll be much more committed and determined than a tutor - quite simply, you'll care more. That counts for an awful lot. We had a tutor for two terms but TBH I ended up doing most of it myself.

Probably the most important things are to make sure the basics of maths are covered so well that they're really quick and secure - times tables, fractions and decimals, geometry etc - and to encourage wide reading and playing around with words in any way possible. I'd start by doing this in a small, easygoing way from quite early on, so it becomes a routine but a manageable one in the child's mind. If you want to then introduce more formal sessions with a tutor later on, it will be easier to do so. And don't be ashamed to use sheer barefaced bribery!

Find out what the expected standardised pass marks are for your area, and how these translate to raw scores. Sometimes these are surprisingly low, and the best technique is to go quickly through the paper to make sure you finish it, without worrying at all if there's a few questions you can't do. Time management doesn't tend to come easily to 10 year olds, and needs to be worked on.

FWIW DS got full (standardised) marks in two papers and a good pass in the other. Now very happy at grammar school.

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