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PostPosted: Thu Jul 16, 2009 9:45 pm 
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Dear Patrica,
I'm preparing my son for the Essex 11+. Goes to tutor group once a week. Tutor did assessment for potential at outset and he scored very highly (I think she said it was among the highest scores she'd ever had). But she immediately spotted he was also 'immature' for his age. He does the work without too much grumbling (until recently) and we've just started setting him timed VR papers once a week because he needs to speed up.

Started off well - was nearly getting them finished within time (but they were the easier early Tutors ones). But for the last two, he only got as far as 58 and, this week - 48 - after distracting himself, going to the toilet, bursting into tears and generally not wanting to do it (having said that, even if he'd knuckled under, I don't think he'd have got much further - he seems to have been born without a sense of urgency...). On both occasions, we made him finish them. In the most recent one, I suggested that, if he got stuck, he should not spend too long on it and move on. He took this as licence to skip whole sections however.

Accuracy isn't a problem - he's got over 70 out of 80 correct in all cases - as high as 76 on a couple. But he's all over the place on timing and is currently regressing. My plan is to plough on with a paper a week (plus whatever tutor sets him) until D-day. I initially focussed on question types, but he's inconsistent in the ones he takes time on, so thought a one off whole-paper hit once a week was the way to go. Bizarrely, he loves what seem to be the 'notorious' type 21 questions and figures them out in no time - so I've stopped telling him to leave those till last (he ignores me anyway if I do...). I've adopted all the tips I've read in your earlier post before, but with only limited success so far

Any thoughts? Telling him to skip ones he gets stuck on seems to have made matters worse rather than better. I'm now unsure about how to get him back on an improving track - we had been quite hopeful - for a week or two at least! (Maths and English he's faster on - he needs to speed up a little on Maths, but finishes with bags of time to spare in English - he likes reading - which helps).


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 16, 2009 10:01 pm 
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Joined: Sat Nov 17, 2007 8:55 pm
Posts: 851
Location: Bexley
I would suggest that, if he's getting worse, then you and his tutor ought to stop what you are doing. He's clearly not responding well to being made to do practice tests and I can't say I blame him. He obviously knows his stuff and probably can't see the point in more practice. I'm sure when it comes to the real thing he won't mess about.

I hate the idea of children being made to practice. My 3rd child does the 11+ in September and with each of them I have only practiced when they have been in the right frame of mind. It would be completely counter-productive - as you are finding out - to do otherwise. It sounds to me as if he's done enough preparation and you ought to give him a break.


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 16, 2009 10:17 pm 
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Joined: Mon Aug 13, 2007 10:47 am
Posts: 3310
Location: Warwickshire.
Totally agree with BM2.
However, if you feel the need to keep up the practise, maybe you need to give a small treat per...? Per question attempted? Per test where he tries hard? Per test where he scores over x% Per test where he doesn't make excuses to leave the room?

Maybe he needs to feel more responsible for his progress. Does he want to do the 11+? Is there a particular school he is aiming for?

Good luck. Ed wasn't quite as your son is but he wasn't particularly bothered about any of it (although he loved the schools he sat tests for). Maybe you need to be like the ghost of Christmas future and show him why he needs to work hard. It could seriously backfire though if he ends up with a place at that particular school and you need to backtrack and tell him it's not so bad after all!


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 17, 2009 7:31 am 
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Posts: 2660
Dear Bretagne

I am a great believer in timing. There is no use being accurate but taking 65 minutes to finish a 50 minute test. The child needs to understand its not a Sunday afternoon drive in the country. Speed and accuracy need to be practiced.

I arrange for parents to time tests from the very first paper. They line off at 50 minutes and carry on, noting the extra time to finish. I will then record 2 marks one for in time and one for out of time. Quite obviously in the beginning they do not complete test in time, but practice and a few tips [to follow] will eventually get the desired results. Keeping a record gives the child a sense of achievemnet.

I do not 'allow' whole sections to be left out. Once they they know the techniques, there is no need to. Some children think by leaving out whole sections of codes they will finish faster. NO. They will still have to complete them in the end, they will still take a long time, but they are now feeling the pressure because they still have to do the dreaded codes.

Bribery goes a long way too. [thats not for passing the real test!] smiley stickers for passing, extra stickers for improving timing, every 10 stickers a small gift [my children are very happy with a bar of chocolate.]

Tips for speeding up, see the following link...

viewtopic.php?t=9238

Patricia


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 17, 2009 9:54 am 
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Joined: Thu Jul 16, 2009 9:24 pm
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Dear Patricia and others,
Thanks very much for all the advice. Yes, we're torn between giving him a break and carrying on. I should add that he doesn't get inundated with stuff to do from the tutor - maybe one paper a week plus a bit of vocab. building. And school homework isn't taxing or time consuming. So he's not working his fingers to the bone. But no, he doesn't have a burning desire to go to the grammar school - in fact, I haven't even told him they exist.

There's a real chance he won't get in and I don't want him to feel a failure before he's even begun secondary school. As far as he knows, he's doing this because that's what smart kids do, it helps prepare him for secondary school and it might give him unspecified other school options if the one all his mates are going to doesn't have room (the in-catchment primary and secondary school are not good, so he's at an out of catchment primary, hoping to go to the feeder out-of-catchment secondary). But he's not stupid; he's probably picked up on grammar schools' existence from tutor group and the odd class mate being subjected to the same torture. But I don't want to make a big deal of it, so, as far as he's concerned, there's no big prize at the end of this (and even if he knew there was, he'd be horrified at the prospect of not being at the same school as his mates - who can blame him?)

Patricia - Thanks very much and I'll persevere with the tips as you suggest. He's already bribed outrageously for going to tutor group and doing the homework - and gets bonus money for his VR papers (with increments for improved speed/accuracy). Money talks, but only up to a point - he's a boy who loves his leisure time... One thing I might do is to get him to do them in the mornings - at the weekend or before school (he's an early riser - 5.30 am, without fail!). He has been doing them on a Friday after school and, as the term's progressed, he's probably got more and more jaded. But he does seem congenitally incapable of rushing; it's not unknown for him, at sports day, to stop midway in the sprint race to have a wave and smile at mum and dad... oh well...


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 Post subject: Verbal resoning
PostPosted: Sat Jul 18, 2009 10:39 pm 
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Joined: Tue Nov 04, 2008 9:28 pm
Posts: 17
Location: midlands
Hi Bretagne,
Just read your posts and thought i'd post a comment, Forget the practice tests on a Friday afternoon! From experience the last thing they want to do after a whole week at school is a test! lol. If your son is obviously bright and GS material i would step back a bit as you have a long time before the test day, Remember it's not all about the results on the day, Your childs current Headteacher and a panel probably all have a deciding factor and if He is regressing as a result of too much practice this may show in his personality he may even let slip what he's been doing at home in preperation - this could turn out to be quite embarrasing! Its a very nerve racking time planning your kids futures and trying to give them the best chances so you have my full sympathy..
Good luck,


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 Post subject: Timing question
PostPosted: Sun Jul 19, 2009 7:50 am 
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Joined: Fri Aug 22, 2008 11:08 am
Posts: 91
Hi Bretagne

Have you thought about trying shorter daily practice tests. These are generally aimed at up to 10 mins and might be a consideration as an alternative to a full paper and again, using Patricia's idea, perhaps a small reward for completing.

Regards

Polly


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 20, 2009 9:05 am 
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Joined: Wed Apr 02, 2008 4:20 pm
Posts: 191
Your DS sounds much like mine. He too would burst into tears, ask to go to the toilet half way through etc. I found he was much worse when I was in the house - pulling at mum's heart strings. If my husband was around he didn't get nearly so distracted and he knew tears wouldn't work!

However, I must admit I stopped the stopwatch a couple of times and let him go to the loo, get a drink and calm down and then come back and complete the paper. I tried bribery etc but nothing else really worked. I made it clear he wouldn't be able to do this in the real test but it meant he still completed the paper within 50 mins so got to attempt all the questions and we were able to get a score out of 80. I realise we all just do what's best for our child.

In the end my DS did his weekly practice paper before school and then he was able to go and play with his friends as normal after school. Some of my friends thought it was child cruelty him doing a 50 min test at 7am but he preferred that than doing it after school or over a weekend when he had much more 'worthwhile' things to be doing with his time.

Keep going - my DS managed to score highly in the test, although it was a rocky road along the way.


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 21, 2009 9:55 am 
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Joined: Thu Jul 16, 2009 9:24 pm
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Dear Bucks Mum and others,
Thanks once again for all the advice. Glad to hear others have similar experiences. The tutor suggested shorter practice sessions might be the way forward, so we'll give it a go and change the time that he does them. She's also noticed his unique ability to drift off and study the pattern on the curtains while all the other kiddies have their noses to the grindstone during tutor group... Let's hope they have boring blinds in the school hall for the real thing...


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 21, 2009 10:18 am 
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Joined: Sat Nov 17, 2007 8:55 pm
Posts: 851
Location: Bexley
Bretagne - I do think you will find that when he knows it's for real he will knuckle down. I had a son who could rattle off a test in 20 minutes and get anything from 45% to 90% on them. Every time I complained he just said, "but I'm just practicing, when it's the real thing I'll try harder!" He did and passed very comfortably. In fact my son who was very focused and anxious about practicing didn't pass by such a high margin as I think his nerves got the better of him on the day.

I haven't been timing my youngest as I can rarely persuade him to do a full test so we tend to do a couple of pages or half a test at a time. However, he didn't want to do anything over the weekend, so he promised me he would do a whole VR test yesterday. He didn't finish it in time - had 5 questions to go after 50 minutes. But then he'd probably wasted about ten minutes talking to the dog, opening a packet of gum, sharpening his pencil, asking for a drink, trying to engage me in conversation etc etc! He also did some quite lazy things like miss out a question or two by accident and try to work out the problem question in his head (you know the ones, if there A, B, C, D, E are five books in a pile and C is above A, etc etc) instead of doing a quick pencil sketch so he could see what was what clearly.

Look on the bright side, if he's so laid back, he's not fretting about the tests. I'm sure the formality and seriousness of the real thing will help him focus.


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