11 plus general tips for parents and children

11 plus general tips for parents and children

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11 plus general tips for parents and children

Try to do something every day

Doing something every day doesn’t mean that your child has to be sat down reading a book all day or slaving their way through a textbook full of mathematical problems.  There are lots of ways you can engage their interest without them really knowing they are ‘working’.  Examples include: –

11 plus general tips for parents and children

Cooking and Baking

This is a really useful exercise as most children [even boys!] enjoy being in the kitchen making/baking treats.  Make your child responsible for weighing out the ingredients and if possible, try and use a traditional scale so they get used to ‘reading’ the weight rather than being told the weight on electronic scales.

You can buy inexpensive weighing scales in most supermarkets.  Again, some mathematical questions do require your child to be able to read and interpret information from a set of weighing scales.  Similarly, if you use EBay or work from home, ‘employ’ your child as your helper by getting them to weigh your parcels, calculate postage or create a spreadsheet of items sold.

Get active in the kitchen and use The Great British Bake Off as an inspiration.  If you have made a cake or a sandwich and it is being cut up into halves or quarters, talk to your child about fractions.  Explain that the two halves make a whole or that four quarters make a whole.  That way, they begin to think about fractions in a ‘physical/practical’ way rather than just a dull mathematical problem.  Alternatively, you could use PlayDough as I’ve found children LOVE this too.

11 plus general tips for parents and children

Use what you have in the house to help mathematical development

It is not uncommon for exam papers to ask a child what sort of container would be suitable to hold e.g. a litre of liquid.  If your child has no idea how this feels from a physical point of view then this could be valuable marks lost.  Collect a selection of containers such as differently sized plastic milk/orange cartons and then get your child to fill them with water.  Each time they do this, ensure you stress they check the information label on the side of the carton so they know what one litre feels like as opposed to four litres.

Go through your kitchen cupboards and put out a selection of items such as bags of rice and flour.  Make your child aware of what they feel like in their hands and what they actually weigh.  Grandparents/extended family are a great asset when preparing your child for the 11+ so get them involved too.  If granddad enjoys being in the garden with your child, encourage them to discuss the weight of a bag of compost or how much liquid the watering can is able to hold.  Indeed, not only does this help from a mathematical point of view, these different environments can help improve your child’s vocabulary, increase their awareness of new topics and also help them express opinions on a wider range of subjects.

Talk about household objects in mathematical terms.  For example, a Toblerone tube is a triangular prism, a dice is a cube [I make my own using plain wooden cubes], a football is a sphere and a cereal box is a cuboid.  Right angles [90 degrees] can be located everywhere e.g. picture frames, the corners of rooms, on tables etc so make a game of locating them.

Play board games/do jigsaw puzzles together

Playing board games or doing large jigsaw puzzles as a family activity is a great way of ‘disguising’ 11+ preparation.  Many exam papers include an element of verbal and non-reasoning.  Verbal reasoning requires your child to have an extensive understanding of vocabulary as it relates to words and their definitions.

11 plus general tips for parents and children

11 plus general tips for parents and children

On the other hand, non-verbal reasoning examines your child’s understanding of patterns and spatial awareness.  Spatial awareness is a skill requiring your child to visualize a pattern or shape’s position and move the shape mentally rather than physically.  This seems to be a skill better suited to boys but your child should practise enhancing the skill whether they are a boy or a girl.  Playing with lego can help with understanding 3D structures and what cannot be seen when the image is presented as a 2D picture.

Large jigsaw puzzles and games like Scrabble [start with the junior version first], Monopoly and chess etc will help your child gain valuable skills in respect of learning new vocabulary, problem solving, planning game strategy, thinking ahead and anticipating a ‘move’.  Indeed, you can be as competitive as you like because when all said and done, the 11+ entrance examination is a competition: your child is literally competing for a place at their chosen grammar/private school.

Please also note that you don’t need to buy brand new games or jigsaws.  Look in charity shops or see what’s available on E Bay.  Perhaps you could borrow from family members or set up a neighbourhood children’s team.  You don’t have to spend a fortune.

11 plus general tips for parents and children

Shopping at the supermarket

Learning about shopping and looking for bargains is a great way of preparing your child for the 11+.  Get your child to look at the offers and ask them to work out whether it’s cheaper to buy two smaller packs of an item rather than the larger ‘economy’ size pack.  This will require your child to make a price versus weight comparison which is not unlike the type of mathematical questions which crop up on examination papers year after year.

11 plus general tips for parents and children

Handling Money

Making your child responsible for handling money is an important part of growing up and taking a degree of responsibility for their own lives.  As adults, much of what we do in terms of financial transactions involves credit cards, cheques and invisible transfers of money.  As a result, children aren’t always exposed to how it really feels to handle money, count money and work out what change they should expect when making a purchase.  Remind them that there are people in the world who are more than happy to short change or take advantage of someone who can’t be bothered to check what is owed to them.  Obviously, I’m not suggesting that you paint a terrible picture of the world but giving your child a taste of reality is part of their development.

Collecting spare change is a great way of not only saving for a treat [maybe to reward your child] but also to help them get a feel for counting out coins.  If you don’t want to use your own money then you could use play money as a good alternative.  Ask your child to create piles of coins to the value of £1.00 or £2.00 and so on so they quickly grasp that ten twenty-pence coins total £2.00 or that you need twenty five-pence coins to make £1.00.  You could then progress to a mental maths’ challenge and ask your child to calculate the correct change in an imaginary shop situation.

This all goes hand in hand with earning money and my previous comments about ensuring your child understands that they won’t get everything handed to them on a platter.  Set them small, manageable tasks such as cleaning their shoes or washing the car so that they understand the value of earning money.  In turn, this will encourage them to count up their own pocket money in order to, for example, save up for something they really want and work out how long it will take them before they can make the purchase.

Just by engaging your child in this way can reap rewards much further down the line and not just the 11+ exam.  As always, I shall wish you the very best of luck!

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Here’s to life on your terms,

Rachel a.k.a The Life Hack Tutor

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11 plus general tips for parents and children

11 plus general tips for parents and children

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