Hi, I have three girls, DD1 was tutored late, from June before the test (2006) and we were ill prepared really only doing a few hours a week with work sheets set from her tutor, she didnt get offered a place, so with DD2 we started her tutoring from the February before the test (2009). To be honest I wasnt going to bother due to the stress of DD1 but thankfully DD2 insisted she went for the 11+ and we used Bond books and work sheets from her two tutors. She done a few hours a week then increased that during the August holiday to an hour a night except on tutor days. Nearer the test she had double lessons with her maths tutor (a senior school maths teacher) and she is now in Year 8 at CCHS and doing extremely well.
Lastly DD3 has the benefit of our past experience and started her tutoring in January 2010 with the same tutors, only one lesson a fortnight then in January 2011 increased to once a week, she started on Bond books(year 9/10) and has over the course of 18 months finished them all (think year 11+ or 12 cant remember which) and mental arithmatic work books (Scholfield & Sims) now finishing the Susan Daughtry 11+multiple choice practice test papers. Her tutor set her weekly spellings and the occasional work sheet as well as past 11+ papers.
She was doing 45 mins work a night (weekdays only and not on tutor days) until September this year then I increased it to an hour a night, though not always possible with out of school activities etc. Now I trying to get her to do a bit more but as the clock is well and truly ticking away its hard work really as I always insist she does her school homework first so theres not always the time. Im sure the school are trying to annoy me by increasing her home work
Its important they read too, I got quite a few of the books on the list (see 11+ notes) Dickens etc from ebay and encouraged her to read for at least half an hour before bed highlighting unusual or difficult words and looking them up. Think she has read a good ten books, could do with more but I only started the books this year.
If I had the chance to do it all again I would stick with DD3 route, its better in my experience to start then early but gently so they get used to the work and increasing the amount slowly. Any longer than that and they could get bored before the test. It gives you the chance also to monitor their progress and decide whether your child is capable of sitting the 11+ test etc. If they can cope with the extra work/tutoring then they will most certainly cope with Grammar school, I can see that after seeing the work my DD2 comes home with, but she takes it all in her stride whereas my eldest I dont think would have.
I also try to encourage my DD3 to take note of the news on tv and we often discuss what we have heard whether it be politics or famine or war etc, any bits of info can help and it opens up their minds a bit. It must work as she often asks questions about things at a later date or refer back to something we talked about.
Having said all that she likes nothing better than chilling out on the settee to watch Spongebob and I think after the exam in a few weeks time that she will be doing a lot of Spongebob watching and I wont mind a bit. I may even join her