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Want dd to do 7+ but not sure

(56 Posts)
frumpyballoon Mon 30-Apr-18 11:25:47

Dd is still 4 & currently in reception. Me and dh very academic, went to academic schools and followed into academic careers.
It’s all we know and we fall into those stereotypical parents who plan a similar path to our own for our dd.
However now we are taking a step back. Dd is bright and picks things up quickly but she is easily distracted and seems to float around a lot. She is ahead in her reading/writing not sure about maths as even though she seems fine the school haven’t given us much feedback on it yet, we will be getting her end of year report at end of this term.
We were planning to enter her for the 7+ at more academically selective schools but wonder how you make this decision on if it’s right for your child. Obviously the schools will do this as well but how do we decide if it’s right for our dd to make her sit the tests?

Has anyone had experience of deciding? I am also worried that if it’s too academic do the dc lose out on other activities such as sport and music? Dd is really good at tennis and is progressing well in two instruments so I wouldn’t want her to lose out on these activities simply because we pushed her off to an academic school. Are we just overly anxious parents or is it real that she might have to drop her other activities in favour of academics and also will her easily distracted floaty attitude be a big problem? She still learns and gets the right answers etc but it’s hard work telling if she’s actually learning at the time as she drifts off quickly.

OP’s posts: |
pigshavecurlytails Mon 30-Apr-18 12:20:04

Are you in the very selective NW London area or somewhere that the 7+' is less tough?

sandybayley Mon 30-Apr-18 12:29:06

We did 7+ for both DS1 and DS2. DS1 because he was quite a quirky character and we felt the state primary he was at didn't really get him and he needed some like minded peers. Plus the school we wanted him to go to for secondary had a feeder prep which started at 7. DS2 followed but if he had been first we'd probably have kept him at state primary until 11+.

DD1 could have done 7+ but the schools we had in mind had a main intake at 11+ so we waited. She is bright but less 'quirky' so we thought the state primary would suit her well. It did and we're happy we waited. She's doing really well.

So it really depends on the child and the school. 11+ can be a bit of a bunfight in London so if that's where you are you might want to avoid it.

frumpyballoon Mon 30-Apr-18 12:47:34

Thanks for the responses, we are currently selling our house and planning to move somewhere that’s easy to get into central for work but considering schools now. We always considered doing the 7+ but obviously don’t want to push dd into the wrong school.
We can currently easily get to clsg so that was our initial option but still looking into all the other ‘selective’ schools for this age group. Ideally one that has the potential to keep going up to 18 but considering those that will help go through 11+ in other schools as well. Obviously we are aware of the competition as well and hopefully will have plan A and B!

OP’s posts: |
pigshavecurlytails Mon 30-Apr-18 13:07:04

in the NW London area for a girl your main options are SHHS, Belmont and Highgate. Habs and NLCS less so as they only have a few places a year whereas SHHS takes a whole class and Belmont (20-25 places) and Highgate (80 places) give half their places to girls.

sallythesheep73 Mon 30-Apr-18 13:12:00

FWIW we are also both v academic. DS1 is 8 and DS2 is 4. So we are little way further along the same path as you.
I would say 4 is very young to be a) doing 2 instruments and b) 'really good at tennis'. I played tennis for my university ;-) and DS2 who is 4 was in a tennis class for age 7+. Does this qualify DS2 as 'really good'??
I don't want to be unkind but it sounds quite PFB and its probably wise to take a step back. If you are in uber competitive north london I feel for you already. How good / bad is your child's current school? Have you been to see the 7+ school? How do you know they don't do much sport etc?
A friend of mine told me only mugs pay for school under age 7/8. I think there is some truth to this. KS1 is about learning to read and basic maths. If you and DH are well educated you can help your child with both of these and they still have time for fun. So if your child is happy where they are I would certainly hang in til the 7+.
We decided to move DS1 after KS1 as we felt he lacked much of a peer group at his state school and he wasn't being sufficiently challenged. Quite a few children move at this age. DS1's prep school is more academically flexible, has more sport and more music / drama opportunities so overall he's happy and we're delighted.
I went to an academic girls school myself and my observation is that girls are competitive. I would give thought to the environment and culture of the school. She may well be very bright but there may well lots of competition and it may be better for one's morale to be at the top / middle of a less able group than to be bottom of an extremely able group.
DS1 was ahead in maths and reading in reception and is now (year 3) more than a year ahead in maths and reading. DS2 is in reception and is also ahead in maths and reading and probably learns more quickly than DS1 but is more relaxed / dreamy. Age 8 is young, age 4 is even younger - alot can change. Being a parent is a nightmare !!

frumpyballoon Mon 30-Apr-18 13:39:21

Thanks @sallythesheep73 yes I am a nightmare parent! I appreciate your honesty. My dd has an excellent music teacher who was carefully selected as his students win most of the festivals around London so that’s probably why she’s doing well and tennis came so naturally to her that after a couple of lessons she was moved up classes (I am totally useless at all sports and have no particular desire for her to be great at any either so it came as a complete surprise) but you’re absolutely right I should be careful not to assume she’s ahead when she’s really not and that even if she is that might eventually level out.

I was ‘bottom’ student of top academic school so I completely agree with some of your points hence the sudden hmmm what do we do now that dd isn’t exactly a highly disciplined dc, my dh was simply ‘top of the class’ academic so is less understanding our dd might not be.
We are now thinking even if we do 7+ at least we find out now where she might fit best when it’s easier to change schools to a lesser academic one vs waiting for 11+ and not so easy to change. We are pretty crap at having any idea what the hell is going on these days with schools so we are trying to do as much research now before it’s too late to even consider 7+. smile

OP’s posts: |
hhks Mon 30-Apr-18 13:57:17

I think it would always be some sort of a gamble to decide which type of schools to go at such a young age. Even we parents, who are supposed to know them the best, don't know what might be best for them. Sometimes we know what we definitely don't want, but when it comes to good choices, it's hard to say A is defnitely a better option than B. We just use our own life experience to make the best decision, and I'd say always keep a plan B in mind for "just in case".

Shmithecat Mon 30-Apr-18 14:03:52

She's 4!!!!! Please, take a step back!

sanam2010 Mon 30-Apr-18 14:24:07

I would not make any decisions just yet, they change a lot between 4 and 6! By the end of Year 1 you will have a better view or where she stands. What i would recommend is looking at a few 7+ papers when she has finished year 1 and see how
much work she would need to get to the required standard. If she is very advanced at that stage, you may find it is straight-forward with some extra prep, whereas if you feel by then she would have to do tutoring and hours and hours of prep,
It is not worth it.

If she is at a school till 11, where you are there is no benefit in entering nlcs or shhs at age 7, if anything other preps that have to prepare for 11+ would be more academic.

Having seen my own children and friends'
children who have or have not been successful in the 7+, I would say some kids are clearly ready and you know by mid or late year 1 that they will do very well. Other kids are just not ready and their parents generally subject their child and themselves to a lot of misery to get their above average but not spectacular child to an artificially advanced level. Life is too short. Given you and your DH's background, I am sure your daughter will do very well even if she does not do the 7+.

Madcats Mon 30-Apr-18 14:26:52

Caveat - we are NOT London. It sounds as if you have a bright, happy child doing plenty of extra curricular stuff. Presumably violin & piano are her instruments (just wondering what else a 4 year old could play)?

DH and I were encouraging our DD(10) at that age. She was a lovely child but didn't seem overly bright (was a summer baby so not as 'clever' as many of her classmates) and the nearby school was great. Something seemed to "click" at the end of year 1/first term year 2. Head and staff were encouraging when we wondered aloud about 7+ and said they thought she would thrive.

We entered her for her local selective 7+ and did a tiny bit of prep (or rather we read the syllabus guidelines and filled in the gaps). We took the view that we didn't want to push her if she would struggle ever after.
We took a similar view this year for seniors.

Music and sport are a core part of the school curriculum. Working hard and 'trying hard' is positively encouraged. Some of the music groups/sport are very selective, others aren't. I suspect this varies significantly from school to school/enthusiasm of staff and facilities and the general ethos of the school (winning at all costs vs having fun).

What made our child a good fit (looking back to age 4-6)?
- a desire to learn (asking questions often based on things that happened a lot earlier). Good vocabulary (use and understanding)
- happy to give things a go (sport/art/music - actually music took a while)
- taking instructions and (generally) following them
- not being too upset if things didn't go as planned
She genuinely loved going to school (up with the larks and determined to be there as early as possible).

When we were looking at schools we were conscious we were uprooting her. Try to find some things about the school you know she will love (even if it is a tennis court, playground layout or a set of books in the library). Take DC to open days (I've probably not seen 4 year olds, but certainly 5 and 6).
If a child likes a school and thinks the teachers are wonderful they are going to be motivated.

A sizeable minority of children seem to swap in and out of the various schools here. Most move to a school that suits them and are a lot happier. I feel far sorrier for the children who don't bounce in and out of school and really don't seem to want to take advantage of the opportunities on offer.

Good luck OP. I'm not sure there is just one "right" answer.

frumpyballoon Mon 30-Apr-18 18:22:31

Thanks for all the replies. Really helpful and I definitely need to take a step back from ‘pushy mum’ moments. I only have one dc so I think I’m worse for it. She is at a prep at the moment but we are planning to move areas anyway and sooner rather than later so we thought 7+ might be a good idea in line with that.
I had a good education and I know how helpful it can be hence the concern but admittedly I will come across as annoying pushy as a result.

My dd does have fun too I promise grin

OP’s posts: |
Lowdoorinthewal1 Tue 01-May-18 07:12:13

The thing is there is a massive emotional difference between a 'good' education nowadays and how it was for us.

I went to a selective girls' day school then Oxford. I also did a sport at junior International level. I felt no pressure in any of that. Did a week's revision for my GCSEs. Maybe a month for A Levels. Viewed interview week at Oxford as a jolly. It was neither here nor there to my parents whether any of the above happened, they definitely didn't sit and plan it when I was 4.

DH sat for Winchester on the advice of his State comprehensive, got a full bursary with no prep at all and went on to Oxford. From what I can see he spent his VIth form years playing some bizarre version of rugby and taking drugs in a field. His parents had no idea what he did at school, except when the Housemaster wrote to them about the field thing.

Getting a 'good' education for us was not something that had to be stressed over by us or anxious parents. We just had a good time making the most of the opportunities that came our way.

There is no way on earth I am buying my DS into the current London version of a 'good' education. The prefect-child arms race is ridiculous. And the parenting it produces is hideous. I want him to make use of his potential, but without the bone-grinding anxiety, for him or us. We have moved to a field in Dorset. It is SO much healthier.

DS is an only too- so I don't buy your excuses for being pushy. grin You have got caught up in the NLondon bubble and need to make sure you hold on to your sense of perspective.

frumpyballoon Tue 01-May-18 11:09:22

@@Lowdoorinthewal1 I’m 30 if that means anything? Me and my siblings were being told at 13 by our school if we were going to oxford/Cambridge or wherever and sent to summer camps in respective universities to confirm this (think Cambridge university black tie dinner parties for 14-16 yo!)
So I suppose I am of a generation that was pushed along and perhaps the beginning of the end of a lot of people able to apply for a school place knowing it’s likely you will get one without huge years long waiting lists. One of my friends has been placed on the waiting lists of London nursery’s and their dc hasn’t been born yet!

I agree this whole scenario is an absolute nightmare but I’m in it. No hope of us moving to Dorset in the near future as lovely as that sounds! Alas there’s a reason a lot of people are stuck around London and that’s jobs. Plus I really do love London anyway despite its craziness.

I can also register dd for 7+ in September for some schools. I assume if for example in one school they are limited to 150 dc sitting the entrance exam for 24 places that I should probably register then hence my early requests for help on Mumsnet smile (on top of pushy mumness obviously)

OP’s posts: |
hhks Tue 01-May-18 11:22:05

OP, i agree with you that situation is very different nowadays. it's unfair to the kids today by telling them how we got to top schools 20/30 years ago. The number of applicants to the top london days schools tripled in recent years. Yes, it's crazy, but you don't have much a choice.

I remembered when I was in uni almost 20 years ago, I went to one of the top investment banks for internship without knowing it's actually a bank! Guess what, nobody ever bothered to apply for an internship back then. Can you imagine the situation today? kids start taking up work experience in high schools, and they need that work experience for uni application.

Lowdoorinthewal1 Tue 01-May-18 17:42:31

TBH I think if parents put their energy into thinking about the ingredients of an ideal childhood instead of producing the best and most qualified child we would be raising a much healthier generation.

frumpyballoon Tue 01-May-18 20:08:15

@Lowdoorinthewal1 although I agree with your point, that isn’t going to happen as globalisation is bringing in a tougher market, other countries have things in place to stop this crazy school market happening but the U.K. (and it’s very obvious in London) has nothing. It literally is open to anyone to apply for a school. The demand for these schools is less of a problem but not non existent, in other parts of the U.K.

Property prices have also gone crazy around the top state schools as well so again it’s just pushing the entire market of ‘good’ schools to one particular sector of people which is unfortunate. You’re absolutely correct in thinking dc will do ok elsewhere but the job market itself (in London at least) often cherry picks which school you went to or which university you went to to allocate you in a job.

I’m just trying to move with the market. It’s hard! It’s hard work for parents as well. I’ve given up work to keep up with these shenanigans.

Life for us is good now and dd is happy. If she wasn’t we’d sort that. I doubt all the dc that sit the 7+ are unhappy hence the OP.

OP’s posts: |
Lowdoorinthewal1 Tue 01-May-18 20:22:11

I feel quite sad for you OP. All of your thinking is trapped in the bubble. You've given up work to feather your 4 year old's cap?? That is serious investment in the perfect-child arms race.

However, you are clearly really enjoying it- that comes through- and each to their own, so I hope it works out well for you all.

Raederle Tue 01-May-18 20:26:13

There’s no reason not to give 7+ a go as long as you really believe you’re just giving it ago. That the outcome doesn’t matter.

Our experience was that DCs were late starters. 7+ would never have occurred to us given their school work. But by the time 11+ came round DCs were more formed in personality and ability. It wa clear they would have a good chance and it felt like it came from them rather than from us.

The numbers are in your favour for 11+ as people apply for the same schools and you can only choose one. If your child has the ability l, they usually get into all the ones they apply for.

7+ seems less stressful but it depends how much you really want it.

TheDeafeningClatterofDuplo Tue 01-May-18 21:36:29

Ha - could be worse. I've just given up work to move to a field in Dorset so as to avoid the London 7+ madness!

Hope it works out for all of us...

paddlingwhenIshouldbeworking Tue 01-May-18 22:17:12

It sounds like you have an image of an accomplished adult DD, super all-rounder, top of her field etc etc and you are looking for the perfect recipe to create this person.

Pressure can be hideous for girls and it's getting worse. Please take a step back and enjoy your DD now and let her guide you.

Being ahead, the best, stretched, challenged, does not equal happy & good at life.

Lowdoorinthewal1 Wed 02-May-18 06:48:19

Being ahead, the best, stretched, challenged, does not equal happy & good at life.

Takes some time and life experience to learn this though doesn't it? OP is quite young and sounds like she hasn't seen much outside of 'aspirational' London, so I don't think she sees it.

Devilishpyjamas Wed 02-May-18 07:02:42

Agree with lowdoor. Both dh and I went to Oxford without any long term plans or preparations.

You can choose to join the perfect child arms race (love that) or not.

FWIW I have 3 children. The one who is best at exams and thrives on pressure is at a grammar. He absolutely will not be going to a Russell group uni - he’d rather remove his toenails with pliers than spend a day in a library or write one more essay than necessary. He’ll apply for drama school (hugely competitive) & do something of that ilk, or vocational if not.

The one who is the most ‘academic’ (loves research, can see him doing a PhD in some obscure, dusty corner of history) is also an anxious child who panics in exams. He is at a quite alternative (state) school that emphasises everything except judging yourself on test scores. His confidence is soaring and I now think we may well avoid the mental health crisis I have been half expecting for him during teen years (because if you are anxious as a child you are often doubly anxious as a teen).

I partly work in the field of teen mental health - and believe me it is everything. Look for a school that fits her character, where she will be appreciated and feel she fits. The rest will then follow.

newdaylight Wed 02-May-18 07:08:25

She'll be fine I'm sure.

EglantineP Wed 02-May-18 11:09:31

I’ve given up work to keep up with these shenanigans.

OP, on one hand you are being very honest about your pushiness but to give up work for a four-year-old?? That is - frankly - insane. By making such a gesture/sacrifice, however you view it, you're putting far too much pressure on your dd to "succeed" and be a perfect box-ticking child.

But as others said, you seem to enjoy it and with your mentality you should have no problem acing the much-hyped 7+ arms race. Though FWIW, I - plus a good number of friends - entered dc for 7+ having done a couple of months home preparation with Bond books and they passed fine, so I am sceptical about the hysteria on here about it. I will also say that now dc are in secondary school, I'm witnessing the increasingly strained relationships between parents and their children who were pushed at an early age and are now resentful.

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