‘Do you think he/she can make it?’
When a parent asks this – as I did at least a couple of hundred times with my own children – I’m learning to see what’s really being asked is not can they make it, but will they make it? Is what we are doing guaranteed to get them a place?
The only advice I find useful and true is this:
There is no guarantee of a place. Face this early, because it leads you to an area where there is a guarantee. Both of you can guarantee to do everything you can. Both of you can guarantee to be very, very prepared. Both of you can turn up each day and do that day’s work, make that day’s progress.
There is worry in both ‘Can they?’ and ‘Will they?’ My Science teacher when I was at school (Thank you Mr Jackson) was quick to tell us: ‘Don’t worry, work.’
He would tolerate no ‘I don’t knows’.
‘It doesn’t matter what you don’t know, what matters is that you work to find it out – and you can find out everything you don’t know.’
Perhaps a tweak of the question can help – instead of ‘Can they pass?’ we can ask
That question focuses on the ‘how’, on devising a route, on working out what they need and going for it. It presupposes they can. 100% positive.
I hear stories of tutors who do seem to offer an 85% success rate. Perhaps I wish they were right. Perhaps I wish there was a way to know, a way to be certain that it was all worthwhile, that if you do A,B & C, your place in a grammar school is guaranteed.
But, unfortunately or fortunately, the value of success comes out of the fact it is hard.That’s okay, though, because hard is what we are learning to do. Day by day, we help our children learn a little more, a little more, the plan being we run out of things they don’t know by the time the tests come.
What seems to make more sense – getting upset for an hour that your child is scoring 40% in a test, or looking at the 60% he or she doesn’t know, breaking off one area of this, and spending an hour in a shared teaching session in a spirit of encouragement?
In the second option, you increase the chances they’ll get 42% or 44% in the next one; repeat this, and chances are it will move to 50%, 55%, and so on
The one thing you can guarantee is to go for it each day, not in circles, not repeating subjects, but in spirals, finding out their next steps and building up knowledge and confidence all the time. Great journeys are made if each step is taken when it needs to be taken. Each step, each day, each question, is equally important. And remember that in learning, as in the game of life, wherever you and your child are is always the right place to start.
What can you do right now to help? Go do it. Stop looking for a guarantee, decide to be the guarantee.
I wish you every success. I hope you’ve picked up a kindle copy of the 5* rated book
If not, please take a minute to grab a copy, it’s full of everything I’ve learned from teaching classes, tutoring, and supporting my son and daughter successfully through their 11plus. It can really help!