Reason 2 of “5 Reasons NOT to wait until Year 5 to start preparing your child for 11plus exams”

Yesterday, we admitted the important truth that starting to prepare in Year 5 could be simply expecting too much for some children, given the amount of material to be covered versus the amount of time available. Today’s reason, Reason 2, is actually an extra one I realised while writing the reason 2 I was going to tell you about today. I was planning to add a couple of sentences onto yesterday’s post, a sort of P.S. to Reason 1, but there was too much to say on the subject. It was too important to brush over. So, in fact, there are 6 reasons not to wait. Expect this 5-part miniblog series to now have 6 parts!

Reason 2: The age factor. How old is your child? If your child is younger in their year – sometimes they are nearly a year younger than others – that can be an influence on how much they can learn within a given time. As importantly, as a teaching consideration, are the ways they may learn best at a younger age. If you start in Year 4, you have time to develop learning games in the home that can hook their imagination, sense of fun and need to play. You can still maintain a lot of these throughout Year 5, while at the same time developing their stamina to sit longer exam papers.

Two powerful effects of play-based learning:

  • It’s more fun and will often lead to longer sessions, as well as helping to build your learning relationship;
  • It’s more likely to be practical, and for many children, this ‘concrete’ experience of doing things will help them thrive.

Here’s a link to a simplypsychology article on Kolb’s Learning styles, giving a brief overview of this ‘concrete’ learning style, alongside other learning styles, in case you’d like to have some context. As an illustration, my daughter and I, towards the end of Year 4, opened a Problem Shop in the kitchen. She was the owner, ‘the boss’, and I would post written maths problems in an envelope through her shop door. She would then call me up on a pretend phone (sometimes a real one) and try and explain how she would solve it for me. I would sometimes ask if I could come to the shop so she could show me on paper, which she always agreed to because she was in role as a polite shop owner! This matched her love of drama and was an excellent way to have several, very short ‘lessons’ at spare points in the day. When similar problems were met in practice papers, I would remind her of the similarity to a problem her Problem Shop had solved for me.

Children love to play, and sometimes fun, unusual approaches will stick in the memory longer or clearer than only sitting with a book. (You still need to do this, of course.) To help with measurement, estimation and approximation, we measured spaghetti sticks and then predicted how many we would need to make a path to reach the garden. It goes without saying that we had a lot of fun making the path, especially when it came to going down the stairs. We were also able to discuss how much the pasta would weigh, using the mass of one pack. (Food can be an amazing learning tool.) A similar game was to make a Book Path, laying out every book we had in the house, then learning probability from trying to work out the likelihood of landing on a fiction or non-fiction title, or a title by a favourite or least-favourite author.

It goes without saying (teach your child this sentence opener as a rhetorical phrase they can use in persuasive letters – because, of course, I am going to say it) that what made these games so enjoyable and effective was that I had started long before the test, so I knew I had time to meander and spend important time going through this process. There was less pressure than if we had started a few months before.

Age is not the defining factor, but it is most definitely a strong influence. As I wrote yesterday, part of the reason for starting earlier than Year 5 is simply because you can. So many children can learn ideas and topics not covered until Year 5 or 6 when they are in Year 4 or earlier. Perhaps a more precise way to think about it is that it is more to do with stage than age. What stage of learning is your child at? Of course, you may not know until you try them with material from later years, so go ahead and introduce these materials. For example, I use the picture-rich CGP KS2 Maths Book on children in Year 3. At this point, they have only entered KS2, but the book covers material right up to Year 6, a lot of which children can grasp, or at least begin to grasp as they move on into Year 4.

Okay, that’s the end of an extra reason not to wait until Year 5 to start preparing your child for eleven-plus entrance tests. Thanks for letting me add an extra reason. Please come back tomorrow for Reason 3 – the one I said at the end of Reason 1 that your child cannot afford to you to miss.

Why not sign up to the blog to get the reasons automatically sent to your email? (Remember to check spam or the gmail promotions tab, and to whitelist the blog post.)

You can also grab a free email course on why time is so important to the 11plus – and what you and your child can do about it. If you’re reading this on the 11plushappy! website, check out the yellow box to the right of this blog post.

Thanks for reading, and thanks for giving your child the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that is the eleven-plus. Have an amazing week of learning together. Stay learning, stay happy, Lee

Five reasons NOT to wait until Year 5 to start preparing your child for 11plus entrance tests

Dear parent/carer,

A plea from a tutor’s heart. The message is simple – if you can, start teaching and preparing your child for the 11plus in Year 4. Whether that’s at home, with a tutor, or both, it is undoubtedly an easier – and possibly more successful – process than if you wait until Year 5. Please note, I am not suggesting you need a tutor in Year 4. You may, of course, decide you would like a tutor (the four corners of that learning team – child, teacher, parent/carer, tutor – can do amazing things) but as a parent or carer, there is so, so much you can do to help your child. Remember that they spend more time with you than any tutor will, so a lot of your child’s progress – and in some cases all of their progress – will come from a combination of your child’s school, you – and your child!

I know many parents will already be at the Year 5 stage. In that case, the best time to start is always now. Today. This moment. Pick up a book and get learning. I know, too, that many children can be successful with just one year. Some children are faster learners, as are some adults, and will already be ahead or secure in many concepts. If your child loves their learning and are doing fantastically at school, then this may be the case.

But…many children need longer. In any case, all children will benefit in some way from an early start. Over the next 5 days, in 5 mini-blogs, I want to spell out five powerful reasons why you are advised to get ahead and get going a couple of years before an eleven plus exam. (Actually, looking back at that sentence, perhaps there are six; getting ahead is, in itself, important.) You probably know, or suspect, most of these reasons already, but perhaps you are holding back, or are just unsure. My hope in writing is to guide you to see that taking action now in your own home with your child is the safest plan.

Reason 1: Simply put, it can be expecting too much to ask some children to learn everything in a year. While most topics are covered in primary schools, your child needs to remember and be able to apply their knowledge quickly and methodically. For that reason, you must go over these topics again in detail in Year 5. Thus, using Y4 to make sure lots of learning is covered and secured is vital.

It’s also true that many children can learn concepts not covered until Y5 or Y6 earlier if given the chance. Sometimes, the chronological nature of the curriculum is about organisation, not simply age. So, as you practise multiplication for example, why not introduce square or cube numbers, simple alegbra, two or three step word problems that need multiplication to solve?

It is also the case that your child needs a good grasp of Year 6 topics for the test, yet many of the tests come at the start of Year 6. An early start at home in Y4 can help clear a path for learning the Y6 curriculum in Year 5.

If everything is left until Year 5, there is a chance your child can simply run out of time to learn everything well in a way that will allow them to apply maths or English knowledge to new questions and comprehensions they will meet for the first time on the day of the entrance test. (If your child’s school of choice tests using verbal reasoning or non-verbal reasoning, starting early is crucial; they will not have been learning these subjects and techniques in any meaningful sense as part of the primary curriculum.)

The situation can become fretful if, as you approach the day itself, your child is grappling with new concepts. Of course, all of the time, even on the day of the test, your child can and will learn or revise something, a gap in knowledge can be filled, a pronoun or adverb can be discovered. However, what happens if there is one area of learning in which your child, rightly, needs more time with to understand fully?

(Quick question: how long does a child need to learn something?

Answer: As long as they need.)

With this extra time, she or he might be as competent as anyone in this area. If the time is limited, however, it may not be possible to short-cut. An outcome is the result of a process. Learning is often a spiral process, whereby you return to a subject periodically or from different angles, allowing the skills and information to become more embedded each time, over time.

Okay, there’s your first reason not to wait. Please come back to 11plushappy! tomorrow for reason 2 – your child can’t afford you to miss this reason.

Why not sign up to the blog to get the reasons automatically sent to your email? (Remember to check spam or the gmail promotions tab, and to whitelist the blog post.)

You can also grab a free email course on why time is so important to the 11plus – and what you and your child can do about it. If you’re reading this on the 11plushappy! website, check out the yellow box to the right of this blog post.

Thanks for reading, and thanks for giving your child the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that is the eleven-plus. Have an amazing week of learning together. Lee

How a simple dice transformed my children’s 11plus learning and brought us closer together

Along with time, a second superhero of eleven plus success is going to be vocabulary. The more words you know, the more precise, nuanced and expansive are your thoughts. Leading on from this is the certainty that equipping your child with words, words and more words is going to help in at least six areas of the entrance test (one for each face of the dice):

  1. In creative writing, your child is going to write better descriptions of everything – the five senses, moods, locations and scenes, persuasive reasons for or against. In dialogue and action, synonyms for said and synonyms for verbs will help convert writing from satisfactory to outstanding. Your child will write higher quality metaphors, similes, personification and alliteration because they have a greater choice of words with which to do the job.
  2. In comprehension, unknown words catch out many, many children. Answer options in multiple choice make this worse by playing tricks, for instance, offering the easy misunderstandings that result from not knowing a word, such as choosing a similar sounding word, or a similar looking word. It therefore follows that the more words your child knows, the more likely it is that they will understand the words in a comprehension, which means they will answer more questions correctly in a time-efficient way.
  3. In choosing a word to fill a gap in the text (cloze), they will have a higher chance of selecting the correct option and rejecting incorrect options because they will know the meanings of both the right and wrong answers on offer.
  4. A good understanding of the most common prefixes and suffixes will help them select the correct prefix/suffix needed to complete a word, as well as to choose the correct meaning for a word that uses a particular prefix.
  5. The more words your child knows, the more they will be able to say what type of word a word is: nouns, adjectives, adverbs of time, abstract nouns, etc.
  6. The more words they know, the more they will recognise right and wrong spellings, which is going to help them with any spelling questions. (For example, meeting lots words ending in -cial or -ious is going to cement that spelling string in their minds.) They will also spell more words correctly in any writing.

ENTER THE DICE…

With a dice, any list in the universe is a game. How?

  1. Focus on one area at a time. For example, abstract nouns.
  2. Google a list, print off a copy. This list is your game board.
  3. Choose your path, or let your child decide. Player 1 could start at the first word, player 2 could start at the last word. First to reach the opposite end is the winner. Or perhaps it’s simply a race, with you both starting on the same word.
  4. Roll your dice (or die, to use the singular – you only need one). Each word is a step on the board. Roll a 5, move your counter on to the fifth word.
  5. Either say or write a sentence using this. Anything you don’t know, you pit stop and look up, or write down to look at after and move on. Perhaps you only allow 2 chances to move on in the game, otherwise you have to take a pit stop and look up the definition.
  6. At the end of the game, add the words you have used to a new list, or let your child choose their favourite five. The next step is for your child to use all of these in their next piece of writing, whether fiction or non-fiction. (P.S. Get informed about the 21 must-haves your child needs to have in every piece of fiction or non-fiction piece of writing.)
  7. You could vary this by having two copies of the same list, which you hide from each other. Use the dice to find six words from the list, at which point use a dictionary or your own knowledge to write or read a description of the word out loud. The other player has to find the word that matches your description.
  8. Use different lists over the days and weeks to make sure you cover all types of word.

My son’s favourite type of writing was description (which came to even greater fruition a few years later in GCSE English Language writing; everything your child learns is leading them to greatness), so he loved finding new adjectives and verbs to help him with this. My daughter loved the games more than the writing, but still ended up knowing and being able to use her words very competently! Either way, it kept us laughing and having fun while learning. This made it easier to spend more time together learning; ultimately, she learned more. (I don’t say this to gloat that teaching her was easy; it wasn’t. Most of the time, it was more like guerrilla tactics. I had to helicopter in, teach her something, then get out before she realised I had taught her something, as she was quite a rebel. (I love you, dear daughter, you know that!)

I love dice. I have yet to teach anyone who doesn’t get carried away by the gaming transformation and potential of this most portable of friends. You can take dice anywhere you want to go and learn. Better still, keep one in your pocket or pencil case. Few people want to read lists; nearly everyone loves to play games.

If you found this post helpful, please share with friends, family and colleagues; you never know who might be looking for help. Please visit www.11plushappy.com for more posts, as well as niche, bespoke, ebook information targeting your child’s success in the 11plus.

Start learning, stay learning, stay 11plushappy!

Lee, London.

11 Plus English Masterclass Bundle

A huge hello to you as we move into autumn. How is your child’s eleven-plus learning? This is a very small post to let you know that this 4-book bundle deal is now available to help all children, parents, families, teachers and tutors. It replaces the summer learning bundle and contains the same thorough preparation pack, but at an even better price.

Please do visit and review to see how it suits your needs.

I’ll be back with my next proper post in the next few days. I’ve been busy helping students with final preparations for the Sutton Test which took place yesterday.

If your child was involved in that test, remember to keep the foot on the learning pedal and focus on creative writing this week. Don’t wait for the result of stage 1; you have to assume your child was successful and use this week to make crucial progress in creative writing skills. If you wait a week, you’ll never recover the time to learn.

The very best in effort and luck to all children.

Welcome to the 11 Plus English Masterclass Bundle.

One week of summer holiday 11+ learning left!

This is it, superhero – one week left. You have a gift of time to dedicate to your child’s grammar school preparation. Keep going, keep going! Are you continuing to find gaps in your child’s knowledge and skills? Are you continuing to focus on each one as you discover it, and explore all possible ways to help your child learn it? Are you smiling and loving the adventure?

Excellent.

In this last week, it’s time to take full advantage of time and put in four hours a day. Include a maths & English test, or a VR or non-VR test – anything your child will have to do on any one day. That will help them manage time, energy and focus, as well as giving their brains a chance to swap between the subjects they will be tested on on in the real exam. It may also be worth getting them to sit the tests on the morning and the afternoon to simulate the real thing – you are not normally given a choice of time, you will be allocated a time that could be a.m. or p.m. Best prepare.

Figuring this out as a parent, I spread my net wide as to where I found and used resources. I used as many as I could find and afford. I bought books: Bond, Ae, letts, CGP – I would have loved to have bought my own books on how to sit multiple choice tests, rather than just sit them, as well as the eleven plus centred writing manuals, but they didn’t exist at the time, which is why I ended up writing them, to fill the gaps that existed for me; practice tests from websites and amazon; used sites like TES and primary resources for amazing free teacher resources, trawled the web for challenging and different ways to learn; subscribed to maths sites like ixl, as well as using general websites like parentsintouch, theschoolrun and youtube (monitored).

So…over to you. What will you read and do with your child this week? What progress do they need to make? Remember, you don’t have to know everything deeply beforehand – you can learn together with the spirit of adventure. I used to say to my son and daughter that I wasn’t sure I knew everything or anything about percentages, algebra, how to emotionally move someone in writing, etc., but I was very excited to learn together how to figure it out and practise it until I did. Seeing it as a shared learning journey can sometimes help your child relax – if you’re willing to try, then they can be, too. There’s no problem with not knowing because you can learn it and then you will know it. The only danger is not knowing what you don’t know. This is why finding those gaps and celebrating them is so important.

Make the most of your last week of summer holidays – when it’s all over, you’ll know it was worth it. Education changes lives.

Stay learning, stay 11plushappy, Lee

11 Plus Happy! – 88 Essential Grammar School Steps you and your child MUST do Now is free for 5 days on kindle!

YES! YES! YES! It’s free! Please, if you are serious about helping your child to 11 plus success, read my first book for free for a very limited time. Amazon lets authors offer their books once for 5 days in every 90 days. Tomorrow, 15th August, to celebrate A-level results day – begin with the end in mind – those 5 days start. Please don’t wait, it’s never too early to have information – you just don’t want to be too late. Please share this news with anyone you think might benefit. I hope you find practical steps, practical value, that actually makes a difference to your daughter or son’s education.

If you’re a tutor, this is absolutely for you too. I wrote this and my other books as both a parent and a teacher/tutor, and would love this book and my others to serve as a useful bridge between you, your students and their families. Families – you are everything. Nothing happens without you, without your support, motivation, persistence and love.

The dream is to get your child into a grammar school, preferably their first choice. As I say in the book, the first step to making that dream come true is to stop seeing it as a dream and start seeing it as a goal, to be achieved with steps, lots of learning, time and lots of smiles.

When you’ve read it, please get in touch and let me know your favourite step, or if there’s a step that’s not clear. I look forward to helping you in your dream goal. Remember, you can get it free from 15th August for 5 days.

Start learning, stay learning, stay 11 plus happy!

Lee https://11plushappy.com/

Do you really, really believe your child will succeed in the 11 Plus exam?

Good morning, 11plus families and all those supporting them.

Quick question?

Are you visualising your child’s success in the entrance test?

Seriously, do you believe it can happen? It’s vital you do and here’s the most important reason why –

if you fully believe it can happen, even will happen, then you will DO MORE, TAKE MORE ACTIONS to make it happen. Which is, of course, the single best thing you can do to make it happen. 


When I was teaching my daughter, a lot of me was quite worried. It was a horrible feeling, which I know led to tension and me picking at my daughter. I was thankfully able to catch myself doing that and I changed my approach completely.

I used to run daily before tutoring, sometimes out at 5 a.m. to make sure I had time to teach the hours I knew she needed. Here’s the thing – at the end of every run, the last half mile, I played the same scene over and over again of the head teacher of the grammar school we were aiming for shaking my daughter’s hand and saying: “Well done, welcome to Nonsuch.” ( Both my children did the sutton test.)
Every run. I know it inspired me to do more, to work harder to find things in English and Maths that she didn’t know, so we could learn them together. The picture became a promise – I had the successful outcome so clearly that it was as if I gave myself no wiggle room, no possibility of not doing everything I could. I couldn’t let down my own vision.
The funny thing is we did a lot more learning, but with less tension and more fun. This is when I started really thinking about the idea of 11plushappy! as a way to help both my daughter and I enjoy the process and enjoy being excited about the idea of achieving the goal. It was the approach that led me to write the 11 plus books on my website. It was much less to do with fear-based “What if she doesn’t?” scenarios and much more to do with “How amazing would it be if she did/will it be when she does?” 


I encourage anyone reading this who has embraced the 11 plus challenge to really see it happening for your child, and let the vision motivate you to add in the extra learning time required to give the best chance of that outcome.

All in is the only way to be.

I say this a lot, but someone else probably said it first!


Have an amazing day of learning. Best, Lee

Do the keyword dance: How to use (and not use) keywords to answer multiple choice comprehension questions

PLEASE READ THIS – YOUR CHILD’S 11 PLUS SUCCESS MAY DEPEND ON IT.

Forgive the capitals and the warning, but I’m writing this immediately after a teaching session, in which my very capable student learned a hack and then did something unexpected that your child must not do!

To set the context, I’m including the entire hack here, so you can teach your child and understand the Keyword Dance fully. You’ll hopefully see this is a very practical step that your child can actually do on their own, once you have looked at it together. This is Happy Hack 12 from the instantly downloadable book, Grammar School Success in Multiple Choice English – 59 Easy Ways to Score High in your 11 Plus English Exam. It’s also on kindle at amazon,

as well as being part of a summer learning deal at less than half price.

At the end of the hack, we’ll discuss the unexpected thing my student did. To be clear,

keywords are important words in the question

that tell you exactly what the question wants to look for. Once you have identified these (I show you how in the book, in a separate hack), you have something to look for. Okay, here’s your hack…

Happy Hack 12:

Back and forwards, back and forwards

Do the Keyword Dance!

No, not the keyboard dance, the keyword dance. Get off your computer now, silly.

After you’ve read and spotted and underlined keywords in the question and the writing, do the Keyword Dance as you attack each question.  Here’s how:

1. Find the question keyword or phrase in the passage.

2. Read the whole sentence the word is in.

3. Read a sentence or two before it (Back).

4. Read a sentence or two after it (Forwards).   

Doing this is sometimes enough to find the information you need to answer correctly.   

Say you want to answer the question:

Q. How do the people near the tiger feel?

a) Terrified.

b) Confused.

c) Happy.

d) Really tired because they’ve been running away from it all day.

Your gut, common sense brain might think terrified is the most appropriate answer – it’s a tiger after all. But wait, do the keyword dance.

You look for the word ‘tiger’. You find it. Great, but it doesn’t tell you enough yet. Read before and after to find out about the special world this word lives in.

Is the tiger in a zoo? In the wild? About to eat its lunch? Shopping in Asda? Only a pretend tiger, really it’s your teacher dressed up for charity? This will make a huge difference to your answer. 

What happens if the Keyword Dance doesn’t work?

Relax.  

Maybe the keyword is in more than one place. You’d expect to find the word ‘tiger’ a few times in an article about tigers, wouldn’t you? Maybe the first place you find it is telling you what tigers eat. Not what you are looking for.

Just look for the keyword somewhere else, along with other keywords in the question. In the question above, we could be looking for the word ‘near’ as well, or a phrase like it, e.g. close to.

TIP: Quite often, we need two keywords to be together to find the right answer.

This is one way the answers try to trick you, by giving you one keyword and hoping it will turn you into a Rushie.

No, thank you.

Each time you find the keyword or words, do the dance – before the word, after the word, then the sentence before, the sentence after, occasionally two sentences before and after. 

It’s only one hack of many, yet it’s one of the most helpful in finding the info you need to answer the question.  

…Okay, welcome back to the blog post. You can see that keywords are amazingly helpful. In the lesson I was giving this morning, we were rehearsing a couple of hacks, one of which was the Keyword Dance. The question asked why the bay was good for fishing boats. The paragraph that we were asked to look at had lots of info about types of fish, types of boats, types of fishermen, as well as info on the weather and time of day. My student explored the paragraph twice, but was adamant that he couldn’t find the answer.

Why? This is what he did – he didn’t look even once for the keyword: bay. He was confused by all the info, felt there was too much, became sidetracked with the similarity of fishing boats with fisherman and fish, and was thrown off course by the weather info.

I asked him to go back to the question. What was the one word that was most important – what did the question actually want him to know? He looked again: “Aaah, BAY!” he yelled. Immediately, he found that word, which only appeared once in the paragraph, did the keyword dance and found the answer – the bay was sheltered.

So simple, if you actually use the hack. If you actually look for the keywords. Otherwise, you’ve wasted seconds underlining keywords that can’t help you even though they want to because you don’t use them.

Two large, lovely lessons from today that absolutely work as a team:

  • Teach your child the Keyword Dance. Practise it in your practice papers.
  • Children – USE IT. Actually look for the words that matter. You are not trying to answer a random question – the questions are very specific. Find the keywords in the question you are answering and find them again in the text. The answer will be there, promise!

Was this blog post helpful? You can sign up to the blog for free to keep yourself informed of more tips. There are lots more (58 more, as you will have worked out from the title of the book!) happy hacks waiting to help your child reach their highest mark in Grammar School Success in Multiple Choice English – 59 Easy Ways to Score High in your 11 Plus English Exam. You can buy it alone, or as part of the crazy summer learning deal, which gives you all four books in the series for better than half-price.

Thank you for investing your time in these words and thank you for nurturing your child’s Great Eleven Plus Moment!

Stay happy, Lee

What does a successful 11 Plus routine look like?

(Part 2 of a 4-blog mini-series)

In the first post in this series, we began examining why routine and time are such vital tools in giving your child the best chance of 11-plus success. I promised to show you one such routine, so here we are. The table below shows you what my son and I did together in a typical Y4 week during school term. A holiday plan will look different and I will show you an example of this in the next blog.

I’ve shown you the reasons for each part of the plan. It’s crucial to have a why for each study session if you are going to help your child run out of things they don’t know and can’t do by the end of your preparations. For a few seconds thinking at the beginning, the rewards for focusing are huge.

You’ll see that in Y4 I only put in around 6 hours a week, instead of the 9 hours or more I recommend for Y5. It’s enough at that age, when you are teaching knowledge and subject skills rather than teaching and rehearsing test strategies and time-management.

Here’s the big deal though: I didn’t find those 6hrs all at once. I used bits of time here and there throughout the week. You don’t eat a day’s meals all at once, you eat them one meal at a time, one bite at a time. This is a good analogy for learning. What matters is that you use the time you have while it is there and don’t let it slip away.

Sticking with the meal image, you eat meals throughout the day to make sure your nutrients and energy are delivered slowly and regularly, so you are in the best health. With 11-plus learning, you need spaced learning throughout the weeks and months to allow the brain to digest the information over time. Cramming everything in at once is like gorging breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks all at once. Nutrients are wasted, the body suffers and cannot use the energy and vitamins effectively.

Three more reasons why routine is the lifeblood of learning: it helps memory, helps normalise good learning habits and slowly draws your child into the ‘zone’, into a mental space where they are focusing on all things 11-plus as they approach the exam period.

  1. Memory. We forget a lot of what we learn just half an hour later. If we repeat things through routine, we’ll remember more. We just will. We just will. We just will.
  2. Habits. Your child will hopefully resist less and appreciate why learning time is so helpful. They’ll spend more time by design learning, rather than watching tv or playing computer games if time is not planned.
  3. The zone. An imaginary, yet real mental space. In the few weeks before the tests, you want your child focusing on only the exam. Note that I say focusing, not worrying. Never worry. Plan and execute.

“Don’t worry, work.”

Mr Jackson, Dalry Secondary School
(My physics teacher!)

The time you spend worrying you can spend learning something instead. Getting your child used to spending this planned, weekly learning now should make the final approach, the last couple of months leading up to the tests, effortless and smooth. (You are also building their study skills for later use in GCSEs, but as we are only thinking about the 11-plus, that’s just an added extra!)

Okay, have a look at the table below. Think about how you are spending your week, think about where you can find time, and then make a plan and start. Oh, and this is the first time I’ve used a table in a blog, so if it goes a bit strange when you are looking at it, please let me know, I’m still learning!

In part 3 of this mini-series, we’ll consider a holiday routine. Thank you as always for helping your child.

Stay happy, Lee

Plan during school termEnglishSuccess ReasonMathsSuccess Reason Superhero Time used
MondayBond Assessment paper - 100 marksWriting full answers helps think about finding evidence.
Help with spelling & grammar.
Experience of managing time.
45 mins
(6-6.45pm)
TuesdayPrefixes. Quick warm up fun activity. (15 min)He couldn't do them in yesterday's test. Fill knowledge gap.Bond Assessment paper - 50 marks.Exposure to different maths to find topics he knows and topics he doesn't.15 mins
45 mins
(5.30pm-6.30pm
WednesdayWriting: Sentence Starter football game.Learn new sentence starters and understand that great writing must use a variety of sentence starters.Interior angles of regular shapes.He knew angles of square and triangle, but not pentagon. Taught him formula for any regular polygon.30 mins
20 mins
(6-6.50pm)
ThursdaySchofield & Sims Mental Arithmetic Book 4: 1 test. (36 questions)
See if he struggles with any area, then have a mini-lesson on this while it is fresh in his mind.
Experience of managing time: Section 1 - 5 min
Section 2 - 10 min
Section 3 - 15 mins
Practice 2-step word problems.
25 mins
20 mins
(7-7.45pm)
FridayDay off, but still do daily shared reading aloud.20 mins reading aloud. (We both read to each other.) Bed time
SaturdayBond Assessment paper - 100 marks.
40 min writing exercise - story.
Visit a cafe for 2 hours for fun and long learning.
Practice in comprehension; revise and learn spelling and grammar. Put the earlier work on sentence starters into a new piece of writing, plus new writing technique: personification to build mood.
Bond: How to do 11 Plus Maths: 40 mins going through topics.Familiarity with doing maths & English on the same day, mirroring the test.
Securing knowledge and finding an area he doesn't know, then spending time on that until he does know.
2 hrs
(9.30-11.30am)
SundayDictionary work: Find 5 new words and write meaning.
Writing technique: 3 different ways to start a story.
Develop vocabulary; find a favourite word he can use in the test and in other writing; prepare for different writing questions by learning how the same story can start in different ways.Long Division: 2 different methods.He was getting confused with one method. Expose to different solutions. He ended up preferring the first method, but understood it better.10 min
30 min
40 min
(11am-12.20pm)
Totals6 English Sessions
(Plus daily reading every day)
6 maths sessions6hrs 40 mins

11plushappy! New Year

Is this the year your child gets into grammar school?

Is 2019 the year your child sits their 11 Plus? From the very first day to its last, I hope 2019 is filled with learning and happiness for your child and your family. Add these brand new, essential 11 Plus English learning materials to your journey.

Managing the year is like managing the tests themselves. 60 questions in 45 minutes? Try breaking each test into 3 or 4 mini-tests: 10-15 minutes for each set of 15-20 questions. Manage time and focus within each pocket of time.

It’s the same with your child’s year. What are they learning today? Even 5-20 minutes will make a difference over time. Please – as a parent who’s been there twice and as a tutor who keeps going back every year! – don’t let time run out. The best time to start learning and continue learning is always now.

Have an incredible year of learning.

Lee Mottram

Teacher, parent, tutor. 2019