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Eleven plus (11+) and "well-rounded" children

(18 Posts)
SoniaKT Tue 13-Mar-18 14:56:27

My three children (two DD and one DS) are extremely bright and great academically but I have also always wanted them to be well-rounded and introduced them to tons of other stuff. They play music instruments (each play three of them),reading and composing music (just school lessons for some and free brass band membership for brass instruments as we cannot afford private lessons),swimming lessons,scouting and outdoor life,camping,sports (one daughter is a great runner and competes),athletics,regular museum and gallery trips,exhibitions,concerts,introduced them to many types of music even educating myself on those,especially classical music that has become a big part of our lives. They have tons tons of crafts,junk modelling,arts at home and at free gallery lessons since they were toddlers,tennis lessons at a local council tennis club,coding club,martial arts,caligraphy shorts classes (a couple of days),film making,ballet for a year,dancing,football (one son and one daughter),we go places a lot,do play dates...
When I was about to start tutouring my son for 11+ in year 5,I was astonished to see that most parents had started preparing their children almost from Foundation and that many children hardly do anything extra curricular,just mainly sit at home in all their free time and cram for a grammar school place.It seems to be especially inherent in certain cultures where 11+ seems to be literary the most important thing in life,the pinnacle of the family's success and standing within their peers (parents' peers).
When I asked some parents for advice about 11+,I was advised to drop all the "waste of time" extracurricular activities that are " a waste of time and money" and "concentrate on what truly matters".I was astonished by the strong opposition towards anything other than the exam and getting a place in a grammar school yet grammar schools are supposed to produce rounded and cultures children not just academically top.
I also believe that children learn enormously through various clubs, at events,through play,build great confidence,childhood memories,vocabulary,not to mention that university students great at music can give music lessons, some work P/T for music schools and form bands with friends to play in at events and earn money.
In year 5,some of the children in my son's class were having 2 or 3 times a week tuition,studying relentlessly on top of it and in the last several months some had tuition even 4-5 times a week. Some woke up at 5 am to study before school and 5-6 hours after school in the last year.
I was advised to do the same but could not accept that that was remotely not detrimential for the children,their mental health and their wider education,skills,abilities,confidence and cultivation.
I felt perplexed,worried I was letting my son down,guilty,yet decided not to drop any activities.
My son just about passed 11+ and got into a great grammar school and is continuing with several extracurricular activities that he loves,especially his double base and trumpet lessons and some sports clubs.
Now my daughters are about to start preparing for 11+ and I have again been told that everything else should be dropped if they want to have the optimal chance.
I just do not have the heart to do that and again I do not want just a crammer but an interesting child with a wide range of interest,hobbies and experiences that will last a lifetime.

Have any of you battled with this? Have any other children who do many extracurricular activities and outings with their families got into grammar schools? What do you think about producing just academically fanatical children (or rather parents who enforce that) rather than rounded children? My son says there are still many children in his school who are into so much,even marathon running,have top gardes in music,hiking,competative swimming, scouting for 7-8 years now,yet academically excell as well and can talk about scores of topics on so much,so it is doable. On the other hand,some children do absolutely nothing and cannot talk about anything else but school curriculum.
I am worried I am spreading my children too thin,but they love their liefstyle and have learnt so much. I feel so proud when they converse on so many topics with likeminded children yet sometimes wonder if that may cost them a place in a top school. It di not cost their brother.
What do the others think? Have you stopped your children's activities ie music,sports,dance etc to hot house them for 11+? Is the cramming and earning well on day all that matters in life or there is much more to a grammar school,middle-class child/adult?

MrsPatmore Tue 13-Mar-18 15:15:51

Every single boy and girl we know at our selective schools does a wide range of extra curricular. I've never come across this attitude of 11+ and nothing else. Perhaps, whilst tutoring, some may lighten up on the activities but I guess this would only be for the time they are tutored?

ridinghighinapril Tue 13-Mar-18 15:21:42

OP, I think you know the answer to your question.

Madcats Tue 13-Mar-18 15:26:27

I am in a slightly different boat, but we are at a selective indie so sat the school's own entrance exam. I'd class her as "bright and busy". Aside from a few stereotypical 'geeks', the vast majority of her peers are either very sporty/creative/musical or a combination of these.

Yes, you should help children prepare for the exam so they aren't too surprised by the papers they have to answer. That might involve a bit of work if the current school isn't geared up for this.

First, however, you should consider whether a selective school is the right place to be. Children who enjoy learning at a pace and are good at it will typically thrive. Those who have been extensively coached to get up to 11plus standard might have a miserable time if they find that they are always at the bottom of the class. That will do nothing for their self-esteem. They will have another 7+ years of misery.

Committed children have good self discipline and somehow manage to get work/studying done quickly. If a child resents not being able to do an activity any more they aren't going to be in the best frame of mind to apply themselves. You just need to make sure they eat well and sleep well and watch for any warning signs that they are overdoing things.

MillicentMargaretAmanda Tue 13-Mar-18 15:54:24

I am in Guiding in an 11+ area. We often have a drop off in membership in year 5 as they start intensive tuition and then another at 15 once GCSE pressures hit when a lot of them give up everything to focus on exams. As our education system is already one of the most narrow in the West at that age I think this is a great shame.

Sprinklesinmyelbow Tue 13-Mar-18 15:59:48

Unless you’re in a super selective area I’m struggling to see why it’s so difficult to get children to just pass (that’s pass!) the 11+. Why on earth would anyone need tutoring from 6?

I love the sound of your children’s lives though

Stillwishihadabs Tue 13-Mar-18 16:52:56

Both Ds and Dd have passed with SS scores doing 2 other extra curricular activities each week. However they did have to study every night they weren't at a club and just one weekend day "off". State school btw

Toomanytealights Tue 13-Mar-18 20:04:14

Mine don't and neither do most of their friends as most of us couldn't afford it. They are still very rounded and interesting thanks. hmmYou are lavishing a huge amount of money on your obviously very privileged children. That isn't the norm for everybody. Kids need to just be and manage their own time. Your schedule exhausted me just reading it.

CookieDoughKid Tue 13-Mar-18 22:20:56

First of all, don't believe the hype and hearsay. I think parents talk up how much they prep and tutor as a way of projecting their insecurities. Secondly whilst it's amazing your kids have all these opportunities for extra curricular it's no guarantee of anything. Yes it will enhance their experience and improve XYZ but in the end, will they be successful in what you deem as successful?

I as child had absolutely no extra curricular. My parents were on benefits and as many on mumsnet know my story, went to one of the sink schools in the 80s in London, a shitty comprehensive well known for the pupils ending up in prison than in jobs. Yes I had an absolutely shite education and hated it and set me back in many ways but I still got to the top and can now afford private education on my own without a husband.

What I'm saying is, there is no harm in relaxing and taking your foot off the gas. Let your children just be.

I work in a male dominated senior executives team where average salaries are £150k+ not including annual bonuses which is more than most people earn in a year and their kids are mostly private school educated. I'm in a privileged position and have great insight into leadership and how they got to where they have got to. From what ive seen, the commonality is with those from privileged and no so privileged but have done good are 4 fold: 1. Clarity in their personal goals , 2. Sheer personal grit/ resilience 3. The ability to socially acclimatise extremely quick and 4. LUCK. Everything else is a bonus so just take a chill pill. I TRULY believe if you don't have the 4 in your dna as a minimum, then it no matter how many grade As one gets, it isn't going to make you a CEO if that's your definition of success. Or what ever definition it is, which is more than likely to be different to mine!!!

Lupiform Tue 13-Mar-18 22:25:17

DD did the 11+ thing and got into a superselective grammar and the even more selective independent she applied for. We just applied for those two schools as otherwise I would have been happy for her to go to one of the local comprehensives. She had tutoring once a week for a little less than 6 months, mainly because she listened to the tutor with somewhat more attention than was likely to listen to me. It was not particularly stressful and the tutoring was very gentle and low key (and mainly focused on teaching her a bit of exam technique)

In her spare time, she plays a couple of instruments (lessons during the school day) and goes to Stagecoach on Saturdays. She does ballroom dancing club at her very ordinary state primary school as well as choir, yoga and band (two of these at lunchtime so not eating into after school free time, and three of them free). I take her to museums and art galleries and theatre etc occasionally in the holidays. She spends a lot of time lolling around on the sofa reading or watching TV or playing silly games on her phone, or just playing with her friends at the local park. No hothousing was required and I did not feel the need to do much with her other than the things she asked to do or showed an interest in. I have no idea if she is rounded or not and don't much care as she is happy which is the most important thing.

theeyeofthestormchaser Tue 13-Mar-18 22:30:40

Your schedule sound exhausting. Dc need time to chill out and be bored and come up with things to amuse themselves.

Dd passed the 11+ after doing a couple of practice papers in maths with me, and some non-verbal reasoning papers (which we learned together). We practised for two weeks.

Sod tutoring for years - if your dc needs that, they will struggle at grammar. Pointless.

Dc may as well do extracurricular stuff before grammar, as there is much less time when at grammar - 2 hours of homework per night, etc.

AJPTaylor Tue 13-Mar-18 22:30:59

people parent differently. some kids may well need tutoring and need to put in more effort generally to keep up with your outstandingly brilliant children.

6catsandcounting Tue 13-Mar-18 22:34:11

Both my kids got into super selectives with no external tutoring, just doing past papers at home in the last 4 months before the exam. It really is unnecessary and is unlikely to make that much difference unless your child is borderline

mammmamia Tue 13-Mar-18 22:41:41

Interested to know what these other cultures are that you speak of OP. Also agree with others, while you're not tutoring your DC they sound hothoused in a different way.

MrsFantastic Tue 13-Mar-18 23:07:06

I think you just have different priorities to the other parents. You want to boast about how much your children have to talk about and the other parents want their children to go to the grammar school. What's the difference really?

Do your children get any time to relax? I agree with the PP, who said all those musical instruments and classes are just another form of hot-housing unless they are begging to do all these activities.

You don't need to do any academic tutoring at all if you are happy for them to go to their nearest school. If you want them to go to the grammar, then do some practice papers with them. They may need to drop one or two of their classes. Surely there are some they enjoy less than others.

AJPTaylor Wed 14-Mar-18 06:46:32

i would also add that if you are unfortunate enough to live in a grammar school area i would think that there is pressure to tutor etc if the alternative schools are not great. if your brilliant son "just about" passed the 11 plus with your regime, how would you have truly felt if he had just about failed? How would he?

WHMum1806 Wed 14-Mar-18 08:05:57

In an ideal world no one would tutor for 11+, but that’s not the real world. Not going through practice papers puts a child at a disadvantage and just being familiar with the format helps nerves on the day.
If a child needs so much tutoring they have to sacrifice most extra curricular activities, they aren’t likely to enjoy the next 7 years of school very much though. I think sometimes parents see passing the exam as the goal but grammar school can be a confidence sapping place if you’re struggling to keep up. I have a child at a GS and one who definitely did not want to go, think of the best fit school for each child I’d say.
That said you do an exhausting list of things, I don’t see how there’s enough hours in the day as it is but if they truly love all of that then I expect they will embrace 11+ papers with the same enthusiasm!

helpmum2003 Wed 14-Mar-18 08:11:39

I feel so sad for kids waking early to study before school 🙁

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