Hi everyone, I made a planner! I designed it for my own children and families, so they could have a rock-solid method of handing over learning and homework. The kids and parents love it and I wanted to share it with you. You may love it, too!
Tuition just got happier! If you’ve ever asked your child what homework their tutor has set them, only to get the reply: “Um…I can’t remember,” this child-friendly journal is going to change your life. Bring to every tuition or home learning session and never lose track of homework and learning again. A trustworthy A5 planner to make children, families and tutors happier while boosting Eleven Plus, KS2 and Lower KS3 education, from the learning-obsessed team of one at http://www.11plushappy.com.
Designed with children in mind.
Glossy, beautiful and bright, wipe-clean cover to survive real life, school bags and snack fingers! Children will be happy to own and bring this to every lesson.
Easy A5 size – child and backpack friendly!
198 pages – Track and record up to 2 years of tuition or home learning.
Welcome page to draw and add personal details.
Your child can write in their happy reasons for studying and learning – encourages commitment and motivation.
Child-friendly question prompts to help with mind maps, after-lesson reflection and learning.
A reliable shared space for everyone: children, tutors and families.
Ask your child’s tutor a question in the space provided.
Dedicated mind map space to draw and note key remembered information after each lesson. Aids memory retention and deeper learning.
No other planner is designed with such a happy focus on improving learning by bringing children, families and tutors together. Are you ready to help your child reach their highest mark? Click and order yours today. Are you looking forward to never not knowing what your child’s homework is again?
Perfect for parents and family members supporting children preparing for 11plus entrance exams for grammar and Independent schools. Your child is doing amazing things – let’s make the journey smooth.
Perfect for all Eleven Plus, KS2 Primary and Lower Key Stage 3 tuition and home learning.
A super-helpful, practical solution for committed tutors searching for a way to develop communication with families and make everyone’s time easier, more efficient, effective and happier. Set yourself apart by gifting or recommending this planner to your students.
“You can steer yourself any direction you choose.”
The Go Backwards technique is an ally of the Go Forwards technique.
Very simply, do the test until finished, no matter how long it takes. How long did it take? As with yesterday’s Go Forwards Technique, celebrate this – you have a benchmark to start from. For the next test, issue a new challenge:
Can you knock a minute off your last time?
Example: Your child takes 68 minutes to finish a 40-minute test. Praise them for finishing it and agree you have a brilliant place to start. Enthuse them by letting them know they’re just 28 tiny steps away.
Next test, can you do it in 67?
Sometimes this cuts as much as five minutes off the first time you try it. Don’t worry if not, a minute is all we’re after. Whatever the new time – as long as it’s quicker than the last time – this now becomes the new time to beat by a minute. If they don’t beat it, then stick to the first time as the one to beat. (Avoid setting a slower time as the starting point.) After twenty tests over a couple of months, your child should be on their way to finishing within, or very close to, the given time.
Your power in this step is to simply keep going – one minute less, one minute less, perhaps pacing this challenge to every 2-3 tests, until they are within the range. Mixing in with the Go Forwards technique may be a happy and helpful pattern for variety.
Key to the success of the Go Backwards technique is don’t try and take too much time off at once.
Don’t push your child to finish in half the time; this will likely lead to rushing and an increase in mistakes. It’s a balancing act and an adventure. You are promoting a gentle reduction.
A challenge is never – you must; it’s a fun experiment – Shall we see if we can?
Again, the Go Backwards Technique works well with creative story writing. Suppose your child writes 2 pages (see next page) and it takes them an hour and a half. By now, you know what we do: celebrate the pages and use the time as a benchmark. Next story, can you write 2 pages in 89 minutes? Continue in this way. Even if it takes takes three days to write 2 pages. Next story, two days, then one and a half days, and so on. Over the long term, they may well be at fifty minutes. The art of the possible. Just keep swimming, as Dory says. 49, 48, etc.
• For a 25-minute piece of writing, a page and a paragraph to a page and a half is an excellent amount to aim for. This turns out to be around 7-8 paragraphs with around 5 lines to a paragraph.
• For a 40-60-minute test, plan and practise writing between 2-2½ pages, around 10-12 paragraphs.
Any less and there may not be enough material to mark or show strength, nor will there be enough space to put in all the essential ingredients of a stand-out piece of writing; any more and your child may not have time to go back and check.
One of the easiest ways to win points can be for your child to go over things they’ve just written and check punctuation, spelling, grammar, and perhaps swap words for more exciting ones.
It’s likely for any of us that in a first draft (which a test piece of writing is) we will miss things, misspell homophones, leave out punctuation, or use a word that we would rather change for a better one, and so on.
Do you want to help your child’s writing better? The best it can be? Two further truths matter: 1) SPACED time. By which we mean, start early and give them the habit of writing regularly over a period of months, if not years. By starting early, you are not adding pressure, you are removing it.
2) Deliberate writing with a deliberate purpose for most pieces. For example, in one story, work on using all punctuation, while in the follow up, focus on similes or structure, while preserving the previous punctuation.
Fold in features like folding ingredients in a recipe one by one. You are baking a happy learning cake that will rise slowly and steadily.
Of course, we need to say that not all writing should be controlled. In some practice sessions, freedom to write is everything. Two absolute benefits of not worrying about time in some writing sessions is that creativity and imagination come out to play, while you will probably with more writing to assess, giving you a clearer view of what the next steps might be.
In rehearsal writing, feel free to jump up and down with real enthusiasm and appreciation for the words your child has written. I love this quote, it’s at the root of driving happy, successful learning:
“Nine tenths of education is encouragement.” – Anatole France.
I enjoy celebrating and finding out what students don’t know, as it means we can teach them the gaps and increasingly run out of things they don’t know or can’t yet do.
BUT…I love just as much taking every chance to appreciate and congratulate children for what they have written successfully in each story or essay. We grow more of what we want with specific praise and general and abundant love and encouragement.
Encouragement, enthusiasm and praise ARE teaching tools.
Why do spectators cheer during the 100m? During marathons? What are they giving to the athletes that the athletes don’t already have? Give the same feeling to your child. It’s wonderful. To sum up, the Go Backwards Technique helps:
Coach your child to work towards finishing the test in time by gradually reducing each test by a minute.
Reduces the time taken to write an 11+ story or piece of non-fiction, while increasing the passion and quality of their writing because you value every sentence along the way while encouraging them to slowly blend in more ‘must-haves’ of dazzlingly brilliant creative writing.
I hope this post helps you. Please share and subscribe. Let’s help children reach their highest mark with a smile on their face.
“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.”
Happy Classroom 3 (Part 3 of a series on how time helps your child prepare and pass.)
The Go Forwards technique has one aim: increase the number of questions your child can answer within the time set by the target school.
How long is each part of your child’s test? Check with your chosen schools. Most tests look something like this: • Stories/recount/creative writing tests: 25 minutes, or 40-60 minutes. • English comprehension/grammar/multiple choice: 30-50 minutes. • Maths papers multiple choice/written: 40-60 minutes • Verbal and non-verbal reasoning papers: 30 to 50 minutes. • Combined English/verbal reasoning: 45minutes In weekly practice tests, both you and your child can use the following 4 steps:
Note the time allocated to a given practice paper.
Begin the test and stop exactly when the time says, whether you have finished or not.
How many questions did your child leave out? Three, ten, fifteen? Regardless of the number, congratulations – your child now has a starting point that lets you both know what he or she can do within the time. Now comes the value. Set your child a fun challenge:
Can you answer just 1 more question within the given time in the next test? Interestingly, by trying to beat a score by one, they may answer 2 or 3 more, just by being aware of it. Next test after that, the same challenge – can they answer just one more question than in the previous test? You can work out that over a couple of months, it’s quite possible for your child to be answering all the questions within the given time. Just by increasing the number of questions they can confidently answer by 1 each time. The key is a GRADUAL INCREASE. It is the art of the possible. The art of happy. Better to first answer questions correctly, then answer quickly.
Eventually, a month before the test day at least, although it could be much sooner, your child looks to finish practice tests with around 5 minutes to spare to use for checking time.
(Musical instrument lessons follow a similar method.) It is better to learn to recognise the tricks multiple choice tests play, better to learn neat and effective ways to find the information and avoid the tricks played by the answers; thereafter, turning up the speed will have a purpose. Is there any point in doing something wrong fast?
HAPPY TIP: The Go Forwards technique is also a fantastic booster for creative writing practice.
If your child writes a couple of paragraphs in an initial session, praise them, then in the next session, issue a relaxed challenge to write one more sentence next time. Continue to issue fresh challenges to add extra sentences in the next piece of writing.
You may wish to pace this challenge to every second or third piece of writing, so they are not always thinking of increasing quantity at the expense of quality.
I hope this is helpful advice. Please come back for classroom 4 in the next couple of days.
Originally, I spoke about ‘using’ time. However, life and learning have moved on. Thanks to books like Oliver Burkeman’s incredible 4000 Weeks, I’m rethinking my relationship with time. Rather than seeing it as a resource to use and consume, it’s perhaps wiser to see it as an ally. Together, you and time can make a huge difference to your child’s learning path, and thus, massively increase their chances of success at your dream school.
Everything we do depends on time. Everything we do, we do in time. Often, a task we don’t do or don’t complete is because we run out of time. As often, we run out of time not because the end was too far away to reach, but because we started late. The end was always there; the beginning was lost. This is never more so than when preparing for and passing tests. What you are about to read – combined with the time you take to read it, make notes and DO it – DO time – is going to transform your child’s learning and results. Starting today. Time is on your side, but it seems to have two opposing energies within it. Realise: ✓ How creative it can be; ✓ How perishable it is. Every second is single-use; we can’t use yesterday’s time, today’s time, or tomorrow’s time, ever again. Like an apple, time doesn’t last, but like an apple, it doesn’t need to. The goodness comes from crunching on it while it is ripe.
HAPPY WARNING: Much of this is learning for you. It’s learning you will put into practice with the child you are brave enough and wonderful enough to be helping. Filter the information in a way that is playful, fun and stress free. Always make children believe they can do lots, learn lots and grow lots.
For they can and do.
A total growth mindset. Instead of worrying about running out of time or having no time, or complaining of wasting time, you may frame time, personify it as a friend or teacher or special power – whichever model or metaphor speaks to your child. Embed what follows over the next 7 days of blogs (please come back to keep up) into a regular, happy learning routine. (John Lamerton’s amazing book, Routine Machine, changed my life on living routines.) Over time, each time skill should become a natural, background time-habit, a pattern of thinking and action that becomes instinctive for you both. Be playful and adapt the 7 ways for your own child. Some children pick up strategies and put them into practice quickly, while others need to rehearse the ideas and action several times. Both responses are fine. Each child is different. It’s why I absolutely love tutoring 1:1 – finding the path that works for each child is incredibly rewarding.
So, welcome to the 11plushappy School of Time! An 8 day blogfest that I hope helps you prepare yourself and your child for the path ahead.
Happy Classroom 1: The Superhero Moment of the 11 Plus
“They cannot stop me. I will get my education, if it is in the home, school, or any place.”
The 11 Plus may be your child’s first superhero moment. A first – and ongoing – task is to enthuse both you and your child into seeing this. To get 100% behind the adventure. Encourage them to feel excited about the all-or-nothing opportunity that the preparation and entrance tests represent.
Yes, both the exam and the preparation are all-or-nothing opportunities. You can’t do one without the other. An exam without preparation is a car without wheels.
As a dad in the playground, I remember loving parents speaking about letting their child ‘just have a go’ at the 11+ on the day, without ‘all those boring months of doing papers’. Perhaps they felt either their child was smart enough, or else might be lucky enough on the day. They were also against forcing their children to do extra learning. I said nothing, but my feeling back then – as it is now – was that this approach just couldn’t be right.
After happy years of teaching, I am certain it isn’t right.
Of course, you should rightly consider your child bright, but it still doesn’t add up that you would ask your child to sit a test without preparing for a test. Your child may be a Ferrari, but a Ferrari without wheels is a Ferrari without wheels: it’s not going far. Which car would win a race? A 2020 Ferrari without wheels or a 2000 Yaris with wheels? Preparation=wheels! (I love my Yaris.)
You might wish to cut the following three sentences out and stick them where your child will see them daily: next to your child’s bed, on the fridge (even in the fridge!), perhaps the car dashboard if you drive to school.
“You can’t save the world when you feel like it – you can only save the world when it needs saving! You can’t sit the test when you feel like it – you can only sit the test on the day it happens, at the time you’re given. You can’t prepare for the test when you feel like it – you can only prepare now!”
There is no later, there is now.
Better still, invite your child to copy the sentences with coloured pens or pencils and design their own poster to display. Write them inside a unicorn speech bubble or draw each word as if it has been built from Lego…whatever they love to look at is best.
The 11 Plus, handled right, is not pressure, it is adventure. It is not forcing, it is freeing. A chance for your child to influence their own future; a chance for you to influence your child’s future. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get involved with once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. At its heart is the love and joy of learning. It is a series of fizzy wow moments as your child figures something new out, which runs parallel to becoming more confident and empowered by rehearsing knowledge and skills they have already. Make it fun, give them lots of specific genuine praise, and be amazed by how much they grow and come to know. You are teaching your child that they can and should think big, that they are capable of giving everything. Yes, true, heroes may not always win – but they are winners. Giving everything to something that matters when it matters makes you a winner, doesn’t it? It’s always possible that in whatever you do, you may not get the result in the end, but it is certain you will not get the result if you do not try with everything you have.
As much as possible, you need to be willing to be your own guarantee. Teach your child to see and believe this, and to work accordingly in order to make it true. When I was out jogging, around the time of helping my daughter prepare, for 6 months I visualised her getting the letter of admission into grammar school as I ran my last 300 metres. That visualisation helped me out so many times when my daughter and I hit learning blocks. It also prepared me to be calm and happy in the next learning session, even if the last one hadn’t gone too well, which it often didn’t. By trying, by going for it, your child learns to hold their head up high. You are allowing them to build coping skills, passion skills and belief skills. Do not deny the truth of this message: the strongest way to make time work with you is to realise and accept now that this is a true superhero moment. Grab a book and dive in. Make five extra minutes to learn something together and you increase your child’s chances. Increase the minutes and you further increase those chances.
What will you start with? Times tables? Why not declare your house a T.T.E.Z. (Times Tables Emergency Zone) until they’re all known? Tables help with fractions, division, percentages, word problems…and multiplication. Put up posters declaring the emergency and have quick, spontaneous meetings under the kitchen table to rehearse the 7 times table, or behind the sofa to rehearse the 12 times tables and their division facts. How about spelling? For example, do they know the rules for turning reply into replies is: Swap y for i, then and add -es on to words ending in a consonant + y? (Whereas, just add ‘s’ if it’s a vowel + y? Think key to keys.) Is there one spelling pattern that trips them up regularly? Focus on that with fun and encouragement. Be fascinated when you learn something. Remember: you can only prepare now. Today. See you tomorrow for Happy Classroom 2.
Oh, and if you haven’t seen it yet, here’s a 9-step video guide to help you both prepare for Story Continuation Success in creative writing.
Please find your 70% discount for the 4-bundle Ebook 11plus English Masterclass series here.
No voucher needed.
I know, know, know these books can help you and your child as you prepare for 11plus success. Blessed to hear today that students have passed not only grammar school tests, but top, independent London schools. However small a role the thoughts, plans and actions in the books may have contributed, we are often only looking for the smallest of margins.
Please take a look and get copies of these books now.
I’m cutting prices as low as I can to keep living – I am a one-person microbusiness and passionately committed tutor and writer – to push you to take action and include these in your child’s learning journey. I love teaching, I love being a parent…please let me help you.
Whether you are a parent or tutor, take 70% off the cost of your investment in your children. Spend the rest on them as a reward for their efforts.My best to you and the children in your educational care.
Good evening. A very quick one to help you get to the point. I can talk a lot, but what’s the point if I don’t know who I’m talking to? Blogs are strange; I would never talk and talk to someone I met. I love to listen. I gain a better understanding and I grow as a person. Yet the blogging I find myself doing, perhaps the blogging architecture itself, seems to be more about talking than listening.
It’s not sitting comfortably this evening. I started blogging as a parent before a tutor. I grew into a tutor from being a parent convinced and convicted by the wish…the belief…the hunch…the vision…whatever you call it, that grammar schools in my area were the right fit for my children. My son was obsessed with learning, my daughter was obsessed with questioning and demanding answers I was at times unable to give. I felt, after visiting, after discussing, after watching our neighbour’s child love his experience, that it was worth finding out everything about, doing everything I could to make it happen, and most important of all, believing that it could happen.
Back to you. You are, I imagine, a parent or carer of a young child, and you are thinking of, or planning for grammar school. If you are a tutor reading this, then all I can say is thank you for looking after your students – we each have the privilege of changing lives wherever we can. We are, child by child, parent by parent, striving to help the world.
As a parent or carer, then, what would you like to know about 11 Plus English? What do you worry about? What would you like to open a blog post about and find the answer to?
Do you have a question?
You can contact me here at email@example.com or comment on this blog.
Looking for #11plus English books that really make a difference? You’re in the right place at the right time.
Save up to £30 on these targeted creative writing and comprehension book bundles. You don’t need more papers, you need proven ways to teach your child to dazzle their 11plus marker and develop writing skills that last a lifetime.
Get ahead, get saving, get learning, get 11plushappy!