How do I prepare my y5 child for 11+/entrance exams under current circumstances.

(34 Posts)
winterisstillcoming Sat 21-Mar-20 14:36:26

Hi all. So DS's usually excellent state primary is closed. He will be attending 2-3 days a week when I am working as both my husband and I are key NHS workers.

We are planning to enter him for the local independent school and the exam is supposed to be January 2020. He's bright, and all going well he was expected to get through. He is in the top 2 of his very bright class (it's an outstanding primary which regularly tops local league tables) and he has had top up tuition for years. This was in an attempt to avoid last minute hot housing and cramming and to allow him time to be able to do a full range of extracurricular enrichment stuff (football, golf, piano, cubs) and just do normal stuff.

I know all other children in his year will be in the same boat but how do I basically home school him for the exams? I was concentrating on more of the curriculum stuff. Documentaries, topical news, debating etc but I now have to pick up the academic slack.

Any tips of where to start to a) make sure he doesn't regress, and b) he can progress.

Also English skills is the weak point. Any pointers for online comprehension tutoring or the like would be extremely helpful.

I don't want to panic but I need to support him. Also I'm knackered so the days the kids are at home, I won't be able to spend hours with them home schooling, although I'll let the housework go if needs be.
We are willing to spend what it takes but are aware that some things are a waste of time and money, so any recommendations would be great.

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winterisstillcoming Sat 21-Mar-20 14:41:46

Also happy to for anyone else in the same boat to join and share tips and vent!

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TheYellowOfTheEgg Sat 21-Mar-20 16:19:34

Bond Online does 11+ tests online.

winterisstillcoming Sat 21-Mar-20 17:14:22

Thanks. The tests are ok, it's teaching the content that's the tricky bit. I'm
No teacher!

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musicinspring1 Sat 21-Mar-20 17:16:53

He won’t be getting quality teacher time for those 2 days he’s in school - there is no way that schools will be able to operate anything like a normal experience in these times. But all other children will be in the same boat and doing what they can.

musicinspring1 Sat 21-Mar-20 17:17:44

Surely his school are giving a guideline of appropriate work for him to continue with ?

winterisstillcoming Sat 21-Mar-20 17:57:21

Yes he has a learning pack but I'm not expecting school to be anything more than a crèche. The learning pack is not differentiated to his ability and I'm not the right person to sit and discuss a piece of text with him as he doesn't like reading at the best of times, and certainly doesn't like being taught by me.

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CoffeeHere Sat 21-Mar-20 18:03:27


Changemyname18 Sat 21-Mar-20 18:30:50

I second *musicinspring1 ALL the other kids aiming to do entrance exams/11+ are in the same situation. NO kid will be getting an ideal education in the coming weeks, regardless of whether they are children of key workers/in school or not. All remains equal. In these difficult times this is one thing you do not need to be so anxious about.

merryhouse Sat 21-Mar-20 19:00:19

If he "doesn't like reading at the best of times" it's probably worth concentrating on that. If he's going to remain anywhere near the top of an even-vaguely-selective class he'll have to be doing a lot of reading.

Why doesn't he like reading?

Can you get him different types of reading materials?

Throughabushbackwards Sat 21-Mar-20 19:17:06

I hate to say it, but children in prep schools are going to have access to high quality online teaching throughout this crisis and they will more certainly continue to be prepared for 11+ assessments.

I'd be contacting the prospective school to see what they might suggest and I would also look for an online tutor to work with your child.

waterbottle12 Sat 21-Mar-20 21:59:45

children in prep schools are going to have access to high quality online teaching throughout this crisis

exactly this. both mine, in private through schools have several hours of work a day which is expected to be done that day and uploaded to be marked.

winterisstillcoming Sat 21-Mar-20 21:59:56

@Throughabushbackwards that's my worry.

I have to nag him to read. I am bad cop in that respect so my approach will have to change. I'm going to prioritise and try and curl up with him and we can read together. He's enjoying Harry Potter at the moment so that will be no hardship for me. Get 2 copies and read together and discuss maybe. I'm trying not to push my anxieties onto him so I am going to spend this week setting things up, looking at resources online with him that he might like - suggestions welcome - and coming up with a realistic loose timetable together. Then give it a go.

I want this to be a positive experience so if anyone can share what's working with their own children, please let me know.

And then there's his little brother to do the same for lol. I'm on my own with this as my husband's stress levels are through the roof.

I've just got his school report, which came home on Friday which has next steps on it. So that's a starting point. I'll get hold of the syllabus and get cracking.

I'll also see what school do provide. I'm chair of governors and not one teacher called in sick last week or had to self isolate. The headteacher sent all vulnerable staff home. They've also agreed between them to open 8-4 for working parents and throughout Easter for key workers. I'm really proud of them. They know that we are applying so I'll see how they are doing and if I can ask them if they can send extra stuff home or point me in the right direction. It's not the right time to ask right now but maybe in a few weeks if things have settled or we are not in complete lock down.

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Frostyskies1223 Sat 21-Mar-20 22:10:17

OP, private education is about to enter the worst period ever, many many schools will go bust by Christmas especially in the Prep sector. If parents don't pay the Summer term fees for distance learning the schools won't be there in September. Have confidence that your son will have continual education at the same school until the end of year 6. He is also going to have interaction with other children when he goes to school in the coming months. The competition for places in 2021 will be adjusted by reduced number of parents able to pay and increased number of places offered by schools, the quickest way to plug a finance hole is to increase class size. What won't be around is bursaries, I suspect they will be used to keep current pupils at the school.

Embracelife Sat 21-Mar-20 22:13:40

If it is jan 2021 there will be time.
Reading reading more reading.
Do the work books sent home.
Get him engaged with a subject he likes. New scientist podcasts etc .
Dont stress yourself or him more than necessary.

Dd missed a year 8 of school due to illness...she had some small group lessons max 6 hours per week focusing on maths english and doing art. Some science.....a LOT of reading books she liked.

She got 11a* at GCSE.
You need to not stress about this. You and dh need your mental health to be good. Your ds is top 2% he will be FINE ..just keep up with what you can.
Dont focus on this exam next year...think of your whole family and what you all need.

Embracelife Sat 21-Mar-20 22:15:59

And you and dh need to to find a way to reduce stress.the kids will be all right especially bright ones who read.
Dont add to it unnecessarily. Look after yourselves.

JustOneSquareofDarkChocolate Sat 21-Mar-20 22:21:07

More reading. And then more reading. Get a reading list from an independent secondary school - usually they’re online. Some 11+ vocabulary books. You can’t cram the reading comp prep - reading 30 mins a day high quality challenging texts and talking about it

winterisstillcoming Sun 22-Mar-20 06:53:07

Thanks everybody, I needed a talking down. I normally deal with stress or anxiety by doing something practical but I'm currently unsure as to what to do. I will have a look at an online tutor but first I'm going to have a day off from everything and enjoy Mother's Day.

Then tackle it and give DS a fighting chance. And Yy to read read read.

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TW2013 Sun 22-Mar-20 07:00:32

Audible are doing free streaming during school closures of some books for children- often classics. Get him to listen to some of those and jot down any words he doesn't know. In addition to reading from actual books for spellings.

zafferana Sun 22-Mar-20 07:02:22

My DS sat 11+ in Jan 2019 and I can tell you that the most useful thing we did, bar none, was practice papers under timed conditions. In the two or three months before his exam that's what you should be focusing on. The English paper is particularly challenging to complete in the one hour - it's an English comprehension (30 mins) and a short essay (3 paras in 30 mins). This is pretty challenging for many DC, so get your hands on some past papers and if you can't then go to the websites of independent schools and print their sample 11+ papers off.

As for what you should be doing now, I would say the Bond books are a really good resource. Make sure he's covered all the maths syllabus by the time school ends in the summer and if he hasn't so far enjoyed reading I would try to find books that he's more likely to read. Neither of my DC are natural book lovers, but finding things they want to read is key. With DS1 that's dystopian fiction, for DS2 it's Star Wars. I'd say rent a selection of books from the library, but I think all libraries are closed now, so ask on the Children's Books board for suggestions.

zafferana Sun 22-Mar-20 07:04:14

Also - is your usual tutoring service providing tutoring over Skype? Our maths tutor is continuing to work remotely.

winterisstillcoming Sun 22-Mar-20 07:31:27

Thanks @TW. I'll download the audible app on his tablet.
@zafferana he has been doing papers and I've been using the questions he has trouble with to troubleshoot gaps in learning.

His tutor is setting up an email service too. He loves The Week Jnr too.

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rozwalks75 Sun 22-Mar-20 18:54:41

I had an email from DS's prep school that Atom Learning - the learning platform they use - have started offering free online lessons to help with 11+ preparation during school closures. We joined a verbal reasoning lesson this morning and I was really impressed with the quality of the teaching. We had a couple of problems with connection at times (may have just been our terrible Wi-Fi!), but I'm very keen for DS to continue with them - not least because I'm hopeless at helping him with the reasoning questions!

PETRONELLAS Sun 22-Mar-20 19:00:17

What does his 11+ involve?
He has a tutor. Get the tutor to build on what they already covered.
I wouldn’t turn it into a battle but explain a bit of effort now will go a long way. He’s got to want it. I forced my DS to read all sorts of ‘classics’ for three years and to learn a lot of vocab but in the end it didn’t seem to make a huge difference: the exam text was made up and not too wordy and the writing part was not too stretching.
Verbal Reasoning is a good one to do st home as it can be fun.
Good luck and thank you for your NHS work.

winterisstillcoming Sun 22-Mar-20 19:12:22

Thanks @rozwalk will definitely have a look at ATOM. had a look at Seneca yesterday too.
The tests are GL multiple choice with no verbal reasoning or any writing paper. There is a group task and interview.
His tutor and teacher are available by email too.

School have sent a load of CGP and online work so I will supplement that. They have sent a 2 week timetable too, so will concentrate on reading and vocabulary I think.

I'm going to try and get some weekend night shifts if I can so I can spend time with them at home and not need to send them to school too much.

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