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PostPosted: Tue Apr 15, 2014 3:55 pm 
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I know there's still a lot of time - our son is just five and a half. Still, I wonder if anybody has ideas or tips for us: for work reasons, we just moved to France, more precisely, the middle of nowhere there, and our son is now in the last year of a (good) French preschool, due to enter primary school there in September. (There isn't an English or English/French school available.)

I don't know where work will take us during the next years, so for practical reasons, I'll assume we'll stay here. I'd like him to go to a public school in England when he's 13, and I'm aiming at Eton, Westminster and the like. He's bright and nice and everything - do you think I should "lead" him in some direction? Supplementing the education he'll get in his French school?

My ideas so far are:
- see that he reads in English, be it more demanding literature or Mickey Mouse, simply because talking alone isn't enough in English. Maybe give him some classical "boarding-school novels" to indoctrinate him, when he's old enough :-),
- work hard to get my wife to warm to the idea of a boarding school (boarding prep and pre-prep are out of the question),
- let him play, because the pre-tests are more about general intelligence and one can't much change that,
- in a couple of years, see to it that he's familiar with the English terms in maths and science for whatever he learns anyway in his French school
- in a few years, have a closer look at ISEB syllabuses and supplement, especially between 11 and 13, in case we shouldn't be close to a (day) prep school.

Anything else, or doesn't it make sense anyway?


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 16, 2014 5:22 am 
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wow - that's planning!!!
assuming this isn't a joke post - we are abroad and DD who had been schooled at a French lycee successfully sat UK entrance exam this year .
Language skills are vital as they underpin all other learning.
My Daughter joined a local children's theatre aged 5 and the introduction to varied language and types of texts and using them in context from an early age was probably the most instrumental learning tool . You don't want to kill off a natural love of learning by force feeding .Make reading a daily habit but allow yourself to be guided by what your child expresses an interest in the develop around it.
There are online newspapers aimed at children aged 5-8 introducing them to global issues in a child friendly way but again it depends on the level of development of your child as to whether he would be remotely interested in it. It shouldn't become a chore.
We are also overseas so we ordered the Oxford reading tree series which worked well for us aged 4-5. Boys seem to be quite different learners to girls . I used to help out reading in class during the early years and the boys would only be interested in Atlases, car books and joke books but the teacher wanted children to have "free choice reading" and didn't mind as long as they read out loud. There are abridged classics which we started reading around aged 7-8 as dd is a voracious reader, but TBH I think the most important aspect is finding a genre of books your child enjoys.
We didn't go down the route of Kumon Math but really wish we had from ages 5-8. Without exception all of my daughters friends who started at 5 are absolute whizzes . I think the solid rote learning of core math was instilled. By the time my dd was 8/9 she needed extra practice at home to get her speed up but there was no way she wanted to do Kumon.
Check the level of science in your local curriculum. For us it was behind the UK standard as my Dds school had an additional language( ie French +English +additional). Whilst the entrance exams don't generally have science we found the English papers to be science based so if you are staying overseas familiarize yourself with the UK national curriculum which is online.
You shouldn't rely on the standard the school tell you your son is achieving. Their aims are not the same as yours if you are looking at super selective schools . At the end of each term you could test your child using any of the study books from Bonds/scholastic etc. I think its great to have a long term plan but you need to be realistic as to whether your child will thrive . We have a friend who hot housed her daughter from the age of 4 with the sole aim of getting into a super selective. Aged 11 speaks 4 languages fluently, Grade 6 piano, GCSE math but she failed on interview. She has absolutely no personality or knowledge of the world around her.Her formative years have been spent being drilled.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 16, 2014 8:30 am 
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I'm rather relaxed about that all, but I'm serious. He might be a five-year old who can't really read yet and giggles when you tickle him, but it's only four and a half years till a visit, five years till an interview and so on. Most of the other candidates will have gone to a pre-prep school that very concretely prepares for a prep school the only purpose of which is to prepare for the CE exam.

Thanks a lot indeed for all the detailed tips!

(Concerning the more general things: our son really has a good personality - but a personality he has :-). I'm not afraid he'll lose it.)


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 16, 2014 9:02 am 
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Yes yr right the prep schools complete the curriculum in year 5 so that year 6 is recap and practice for entrance exams.
Maybe when he's 8/9 you could think about an assessment from a tutor school in London which is geared at the selective schools to give you an independent perspective of his ability & would still give you time to focus towards the exams.
Stay interested and involved in his learning up till then but my 2p would be to get his reading up to scratch as early as possible.
Good Luck!


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 16, 2014 1:07 pm 
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I have to say that I am with your wife and anti boarding school (particularly for boys) at a young age! 6th form, absolutely, if they so wish, but I have real emotional attachment issues problems with boarding school children, which don't come out until they enter adulthood. I speak from experience, however, if you are happy to send your son away and feel that the benefits would outweigh the downsides then: read, read, read - any language is useful as it is expression, syntax, sense that comes over - the love of language will help any child and an increased vocabulary and the knowledge of appropriate use will help with any entrance exams. Whenever you do any activity talk about what you are doing, question why you are doing it and explore answers and possible solutions - it's all fun but builds valuable research skills. With maths, the key is learning times-tables for fast recollection (the old rote learning from my day really doesn't hurt!) and building on the basics. You are right to be cautious about taking a judgement from his teachers as to how he is doing - that is certainly useful but you actually need to know how he is going compared with the British cohort so it is worth getting some sort of SATs/tutor/prep-school type assessment when he is older so that you can see what - if any - additional remedial work needs to be done. Listen to the BBC world service/English language programmes so that he is exposed to a hopefully intellectual discussion/debate. Most of all, don't lose sight of the fact that he is your precious son who needs to eat mud, climb trees and squash bugs!!

There are some useful threads in this section, particularly about the Eton entrance test and (I seem to remember) Westminster which you may find useful. Have a look at some other less "prestigious" schools as well, as a comparison, you may be pleasantly surprised! Radley College, Abingdon School, Warwick School, for example - all slightly further out from the inner M25 so the bonus of less expense but also a more modern traditional approach to public school, all with very good results.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 16, 2014 6:23 pm 
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Please don't use Kumon - it is sooo boring and not linked well to developing maths problem solving skills.

Use the activities on www.nrich.maths.org and look for the curriculum maps that link the problems to the maths syllabus.


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 17, 2014 7:28 am 
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Thanks a again, everybody.

Re Radley - a cousin's son's there, so by definition this isn't a less prestigious school. :-)


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 17, 2014 12:30 pm 
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Lol!! Absolutely - point taken!! :wink: But hopefully you get my drift...!!! :)


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 17, 2014 1:01 pm 
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Joined: Tue Sep 01, 2009 3:38 pm
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Location: Maidstone
I think boarding is a personal thing. I certainly wasn't damaged nor were any of my friends and family. All the damage stuff I hear is stuff I read and dont know anyone personally to have been left with lasting damage, alternatively we are just all lunatics and dont notice these things :D . My daughter on the other hand boarded and she didn't like it and I took her out. Nothing is ever permanent if one thing doesn't work you move to the next.

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 20, 2014 6:04 am 
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Location: Herts
Sorry to hear things did not work out for your dd. I seem to remember she was very keen to go, what was it that was different from what she expected? I hope she is happily settled now. DG


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