Many students are just about to sit the 11 Plus. So here are some final tips to help your child get prepared:
Work on the basics
Even in the immediate run up to the exams try to ensure your child is continuing to develop their basic reading, writing and maths skills. Read with them every day if possible and pick up on any new words that they don’t understand, which can be added to their vocabulary. The same goes for maths, practise their mental maths with them as and when you can.
Practise and then practise a bit more
Practise going through 11 Plus papers in the run up to the exams but try to gauge how much your child is able to take in at this stage. It’s also a good idea to actually run through the mechanics of the exam. For example: “The English exam will start at 9am and you’ll have X amount of time for comprehension.” Show them the equipment they will be using to take the exam and pictures of what the exam hall will look like. All of this will help them build up an idea of what taking an exam is like. Hopefully it will be far less daunting for them on the day.
Keep a normal routine
In the run up to the 11 Plus exams keep a normal daily routine. Despite the temptation to pile on the work in the hope more will sink in, do your best to ignore it. It’s important at this stage that your child is eating, sleeping and playing at regular times. A normal routine will make them calmer and more mentally and physically prepared to take on the exams.
If they’re getting really nervous
It’s normal for anyone sitting an exam at any time to feel a bit apprehensive about it. Make sure you tell them that! Talk to them about how you felt about your own exams/driving test/job interviews and how you dealt (and deal!) with nerves. Explain that the ‘flight or fight’ response is a natural reaction to stress. A great way to help calm down a child who is suffering from nerves is to practise breathing techniques with them. For instance, try a mindfulness technique called “box breathing”. Breathe in through the nose for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds, breathe out through mouth for 4 seconds, and hold for another 4. Repeating this over and over again will help any anxiety subside. In addition, distracting the mind with something like breathing will naturally help children feel a bit more relaxed.
What will you do when the exams are over?
Completing what will be the biggest exams to date for children of their age is a huge deal. So how will you celebrate their efforts? It doesn’t need to be an expensive day out. Ensure they feel like they’ve done a great job no matter how they think it went. They deserve it!