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.

How can you help your 11 plus child in the summer holidays? Try this 15hr weekly plan.

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

Actually, it looks as if it will be a five-blog mini-series; there’s a lot of info to help you. All to the good. The last time we spoke, we looked generally at morning and afternoon patterns of learning. What follows is a zoomed-in look at a day from an effective weekly routine.

Week 1: Monday

  1. 9.30 a.m. – English multiple choice test – 50 mins.
  2. A small 10-break, then mark the test. You can mark it together, asking your child to look at the supplied answers and check against their paper. Ask them to play at being the examiner, not getting upset at wrong answers, but rather being curious to know.
  3. Identify the learning areas your child got right. For example, did they score highest in spelling, punctuation, grammar or comprehension sections? Note this and see if the same thing happens on the next test.
  4. Identify the learning areas your child missed marks on. Note this and see if there is a pattern on the next test. Did they score lowest in comprehension, or did they not see the tricks being played in the punctuation questions? Be very upbeat about discovering these areas. You are both playing detective to find out what the next area is that they are going to be brilliant at.
  5. Suppose comprehension was low-scored. Looking at the reading text AND the questions, can you work out together why it was tricky? For example, it could have been a misunderstanding of vocabulary. Were there a lot of words your child didn’t know? How did this affect the score? Was it just choosing the wrong meaning from a list, or did the misunderstanding lead to a misreading of the meaning of the text, perhaps the motivation for a character’s actions. Or was it the questions themselves that were misread? Was it even something to do with the tricky way the answers are laid out like traps? I found so many tricks in both the questions and the answers of most multiple choice English tests that I wrote a very helpful book explaining them all, along with explanations of what your child can actually do to beat those tricks and boost their scores.
  6. To finish the English session, pick up on an area of weakness immediately and learn something together. Suppose there are often lots of words your child doesn’t know (indeed, even if they do know lots of words), then start a daily habit of learning 5-10 new words a day. You could do this in a million different ways. Take the letters in their name and find words in a dictionary or thesaurus beginning with each letter; find five words that start with the same letter; choose one word and its meaning, followed by a word that starts with the last letter of the previous word; focus on verbs only, or adverbs, or nouns, etc; find five words that use the same prefix, e.g. indecipherable, inhumane, innocuous; five words that end with the same suffix, e.g. courageous, advantageous, epigeous. You can make a game of it, using a dice to find a word to land on. Alternatively, if punctuation is an issue, have a twenty minute learning session on how to use a particular mark, e.g. semi-colon. Once it is half-understood, put it into practice and have your child write sentences using the punctuation mark, or have them deliberately fool you by leaving out the problem punctuation mark, which you have to spot.

If you’ve spent 2hrs on a session, not including breaks, then that might be enough for a day’s targeted learning. Let your child continue with their day, BUT HANG ON…Remember to include other good learning habits, such as daily reading later in the day, shared loud reading to each other, listening to audiobooks or programmes that use formal language such as nature documentaries, leaving background programmes on that use formal language, such as Radio 4 documentaries, and avoiding over use (or any use) of electronic games that might zap their mind and undo the good work you’ve just done. You are trying to lead your child into the zone, into a summer holiday mindset of learning and thinking, with minimal drag from activities that don’t support learning.

If you haven’t used 2 hours, or fancy targeting 3-hours, then you could have an hour away before repeating the process for Maths, or verbal/non-verbal if your choice of school tests using these. By week 3, it would be very helpful to make time for different subjects in the same day, to build stamina and to give the brain experience of switching between subjects, which they have to do during their real test.

Okay, perhaps we’ve covered enough for now. Hmm…and we’re only at Monday. This is turning into less of a mini-series and more of a season box set! It all matters and all has to be covered. Make sure you read the previous blogs to help you catch up with where we’ve got to.

Thank you for nurturing your child. Start learning, stay learning and stay 11plushappy!

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