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 Post subject: Attention span problems
PostPosted: Sun Sep 16, 2007 6:24 pm 
I'd welcome any suggestions from any parents here who've experienced similar things with their children doing these tests - how do you get a child to concentrate for the whole 50 minutes?

My daughter's bright and does the gifted additional activities at school, so I'm pretty sure that ability isn't the issue. However, she seems to lose the plot about halfway through the practice tests and slows to a crawl.

On the first test she had only completed half of the questions, but got about 85% of them right. She seems to think that 50 minutes is ages to complete all the questions but I've tried breaking it down for her and said that 80 questions in 50 minutes is almost 2 questions a minute, so she needs to get her average speed up.

She's done another couple of tests since then, and it's slightly different. At half-time, when I tell her it's halfway through, I look over her shoulders and she's completed about two-thirds of the paper, which I thought was promising. However, she then spent the next 25 minutes completing another 4 or 5 questions! Her accuracy on the q's is 80 - 90% but as she's only completing just over half each time, she's getting about 45 - 50%!

She's always had this issue at school about not being able to concentrate on anything for longer than 30 minutes or so. Her teachers tell me they tear their hair out teaching her because she's so bright but just can't get her to finish anything.

Does anyone have any suggestions on keeping concentration going for the 50 minutes? I realise this is probably a lost cause and I don't want to pile any pressure on her to do the 11+ as she almost certainly won't pass at her current rate, but it's so frustrating, because her school keeps telling me she's extremely able and consistently at the top of her class for almost everything.

Has anyone had a similar experience with their children? Is this something anyone's been able to overcome?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Sep 16, 2007 6:32 pm 
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Joined: Tue Dec 13, 2005 12:49 pm
Posts: 1647
Location: berkshire
Many parents have cited 'timing issues' as a problem in the build up to 11+..........have a look at this link, it mentions using the cd versions to check timing.

viewtopic.php?t=2866&highlight=cds

Good luck!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Sep 16, 2007 7:14 pm 
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Joined: Mon Feb 12, 2007 1:21 pm
Posts: 11934
It could be that she has a specific learning difficulty - for example Ateention Deficit Disorder - I have seen it manifest itself like this in very bright children.
It might be worth finding out [e.g. see an expert] then she might be entitled to a break in KS2 tests and it would be something to use at appeal should she miss by a mark or two.

Get her to change pencil or something at the half-way time and to count to thirty just to give her brain a 'break' before she starts again.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Sep 16, 2007 7:21 pm 
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Joined: Thu Jul 19, 2007 8:38 am
Posts: 153
Location: Bucks border / Berks
Hi I have the opposite problem where my son if finishing in half an hour. He is answering every question and getting around 80% but not double checking his answers for correctness. Any suggestions?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Sep 16, 2007 7:32 pm 
Hi Guest 55,

Thanks for your reply - it's been something I've wondered about before. One of her old teachers suggested this and she was assessed which showed that there was something not right in her classtime behaviour. Then she moved to her middle school and, because she's always getting better than average scores and isn't particularly disruptive, they've said that there's not really a problem as she's doing ok.

How would I find someone to talk to about this and possibly find out whether she'd be entitled to a break if so? I was hoping I could improve her concentration, but I'm getting to the point where it doesn't seem worth putting her under this pressure to do something that she struggles with so badly. Her school seem under huge pressure to deal with the problem kids they already have, my daughter who's well-behaved and achieves (despite her inability to concentrate) seems to slip under the radar!

Sorry for the essay, but your reply did hearten me a little and I'm genuinely grateful for the advice!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Sep 16, 2007 8:59 pm 
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Joined: Mon Feb 12, 2007 1:21 pm
Posts: 11934
Bucks mum,

You need to get an Educational Psychologist's assessment - not cheap - but if the diagnosis is A.D.D then adjustments can be authorised in exams etc.
Children with such special needs can (and do!) perform well in Grammar Schools.


Able children's special needs do tend to get overlooked because, despite these needs, they can perform above age expectations. Don't give up - get your daughter to try the 'mental break' in a practice test.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Sep 17, 2007 7:18 am 
Bucks Mum
May I suggest (although you probably thought of it yourself!) that you check the lesson times at the various schools in which you are interested. Around our area different schools have lessons which range from 30 minutes to 1 hour in duration. Looking round the school with the shorter lessons it seemed as if children were moving from lesson to lesson half the time we were there. Might suit your daughter. At any rate it must help keep them fit!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Sep 17, 2007 11:36 am 
Truthfully I wouldn't think she has ADD. These children can barely sit still, tend to be disruptive because they haven't impulse control etc. etc.
You haven't stated when her birthdate is. I find post-April children much more immature than the earlier birth children (as a general rule). They often have shorter attention spans. My own daughter is at the immature end. You get 30 good minutes out of her, then the rest is very variable. It's only in the last couple of weeks she's grown up enough to concentrate for the duration (thank God). I have a July birth pupil that still hasn't settled down.
What I do find is extremely bright but immature children get bored after the first 25 minutes so you end up with brilliance first half and dross the second.
How do you cure this? In my experience it is extremely difficult. Last year I had two pupils in this category who never scored up to standard in my house--but both did it on the day. While this is extremely nerve-wracking for a parent, this kind of child often waits until the 'real thing' to perform.
I would keep practising in 30 minute chunks so she is extremely well-prepared and have some faith in her.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Sep 17, 2007 1:09 pm 
ADD and ADHD are different - you can have the attention problem without having the hyperactive element. It is perfectly possible for your daughter to have attention problems. These could be detected by doing a full ed psych report or asking your GP for referral to specialist paediatrician (probably need to go private)who could perform a routine computer test.

There are sites for ADHD and ADD - adders.org springs to mind.

Yhey could give you a better idea of how ADHD or ADD would present.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Sep 17, 2007 2:14 pm 
To ADD,

Point taken. Truthfully I always thought there was a difference and that it manifests itself differently but was recently dissuaded otherwise by our GP when discussing my 16 year old who, over the years, many people have suggested is ADD. My GP emphatically said he wouldn't be able to sit calmly as he was doing during the consultation. I suspect, however, GP's may not be so clued up in this area.
We did go through a pyschological report about 6 years ago (£350 from Aston University) only to be told he definitely did have a special need but not one he had ever encountered before! This did seem rather pointless at the time but later it enabled us to get 25% extra time in his GCSE'S which was fairly useful.
I still feel a strong element of personality and maturity comes into play when doing 11 plus exams which is why some very clever children don't pass, only to go onto excel by the time they are 14/15. Personally I'd sooner have a later bloomer than a child whose high point is an 11+ exam.


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