What should I do with my 11 plus child during the summer holidays before the test?

(Part 3 of a 4-blog mini-series.)

It’s getting serious now, right?

A week remains until the summer holidays. After this, a long stretch of time lies between your child and their 11 plus exam in September, or the months that follow shortly after. You, or your child at least, are going to have a lot of time to spend. With hand on heart as a dad and teacher, how your child spends this summer time is going to make a huge difference to their chances of 11 plus success. Do nothing, do little, or do unfocused learning here and there, and it is going to shrink their opportunity. Meanwhile, put a plan into action that targets test-sitting combined with constantly being on the look out for things your child can’t do, then addressing those areas until they can do the things they couldn’t do, and you are adding jet engines and super-boosting your child’s chances of success.

In brief, that really is your summer holiday learning routine. Combine test experience, text skills, subject skills, reinforce strengths, hunt out and be happy about discovering problem areas, and deal with those areas with love, humour, belief and a marathon runner’s approach to one mile at a time, one problem at a time.

The holiday gifts your child 6 weeks of time – a half term of learning, that you can dedicate to 11 plus subjects. My daughter was running away in English at this point, but would only score around 50% in 11 plus maths tests. Within six weeks, it had all changed and she made it to her first choice grammar. We were learning until the minute she stepped out of the car for her test. #useyourtimewell.

Your first consideration is probably work and child care arrangements. If there are moments of time you cannot move, then block them out and feel fine about this. You are living, you are alive, and being alive takes up the majority of our lives!

Now, look at your free time, or look at the time that can be created in the place and with the people looking after your child, supposing this isn’t you. You are going to find fifteen hours or so in a week for their learning. That is still going to leave a huge amount of time for play – an essential non-negotiable – and the rest of life. But fifteen hours is an effective amount of time to commit to 11 plus learning.

Monday to Friday – 2/3 hrs in the morning, leaving their afternoons and evenings free, is a very intelligent approach to try. Why? Your child does their learning before anything else, so arguments about “Can we do this first?” don’t need to happen. They will quickly understand the routine. Equally, they will be generally fresher, not worn out by summer heat and activities, so may focus better. Perhaps most importantly, if your child learns on a morning, then for the rest of the day, at some level, their brain is considering or processing the information, so in a way, twice the learning time is achieved. Do it the other way round, and your child may be thinking about their morning play session during their learning. They don’t get the same background processing opportunity.

Having said that, in a lot of circumstances, a quality morning routine may not be an option. There are benefits to to starting later in the day. If your child does a sport, or has a couple of hours in the park, then their brain could benefit from the positive effects of exercise on education. They may be less restless because they have shaken out all their sillies, their brain is lovely and oxygenated. In this case, they could be better focused.

Perhaps a truly wise routine might change things occasionally and blend morning and afternoon sessions. It is recommended that when sitting mock multiple choice or written papers, your child has experience of 9 a.m. and 1.30 pm starts. In the real test, they could be asked to sit at either time – you can’t choose – so asking your child to be aware of how they are working/feeling/thinking at different times of the day during a test could help them manage either situation on the test day. If your child struggles to get going on a morning, for example, getting up earlier and waking their brain up with some pre-test sums or spelling could help them be alert by the time 9 a.m. comes around.

Okay, 15 hours a week. Join me in my next blog, which I’ll try and do tomorrow, for a zoomed-in look at specific subject/strategy/test routines.

Have an amazing day of learning. Please consider the happy hacks learning series of English books at www.11plushappy.com as resources for you. They are 110% focused on 11 plus exam techniques and content your child is going to need on the day.

Let’s speak again tomorrow. Found this blog helpful, or have more questions? Please leave a comment or get in touch lee@11plushappy.com @11plushappy