Hello all, this is probably my last visit to this site as my youngest has just received her 11+ pass letter so it is all over for us!
My approach with both my son (now in yr 10) and daughter (yr 6) was to start the prep for the 11+ in June prior to the test in September. I based all their work on practice papers and used all the free ones from this site, a number of e papers purchased from this site and a pack of 6 papers purchased from Waterstone's in Lincoln (also available from WH Smiths). The help from the excellent primary they both went to was less this year than 4 years ago but I guess that is just due to the pressure on the teachers.
I believe the key is to build their confidence in the different types of questions and (probably more important) the different ways the correct answers can be found for each type of q over a reasonably long period but at a leisurely pace.
I used the practice exam papers by getting both of them to do as many q's as possible in the time available and then working through the unanswered q's together. This way as they both got better there were fewer q's left over to work through together and we started to focus on which q's they got wrong. I really tried as hard as I could to make it fun and while the younger one was doing her paper her brother had a go as well (he is 14) and raced her (they are a bit competitive!). I also always got them to explain how they got each answer to detect guessing and getting the right answers by the wrong means.
We slowly built up the number of papers they did until a peak in the week before each phase of the test (VR and NVR).
Hope this helps someone for next year - but here's the 'kicker' my daughter is quite certain (tears and everything!) that she wants to go to William Farr