Where to start?
When my son was in year 2 he achieved 2b's in all his SATS bar a 2a in Maths. Until the beginning of year 5 we were consistently told that he is clearly a below average pupil. We were told that he had language problems (he is bilingual), may need language therapy etc. I ignored everything. What I could see at home is a child which clearly has an above average ability in maths.
In January 2006 we started English with a tutor 1.5 hours once per week. In early April of the same year I saw his school teacher which painted to me all of sudden a spectacular picture of a kid who is clearly already level 5 in Maths, writes spectacular stories in English, achieves a clear above average performance in comprehension and has a spelling age of 13.4 (my son was 9.6 at the time).
He took the Latymer first round tests in October 2006. He did not manage to finish all of his NVR as he run of time and hence missed a substantial number of questions in the last two sections. He of course failed but only marginally which meant that everything he managed to answer, he answered right. I never told him the results, just told him we pulled out of the race because of the distance (partially true). The kid looked visibly scared both when he went in (first time taking an exam, away from his school and apart form his parents; he was only 10 and 2 months). He came out looking even more shaken, clearly scared and upset and very relieved to be back with his parents. I started to worry that he would fail all his exams if he was going to be that scared.
20 days later he took an exam in an independent scholl and passed it with flying colours achieving a top performance both in story writng and in Maths. He came out smiling and confident, just as he had went in, smiling and chatting away to the other children.
In early December he took the first round of QE and he went in confident and in good spirits. He came out in the same mood, but unsure whether had passed or not. His comments was "that the tests were difficut but in an easy way difficult" (!!??
) and that "I did run of of time and guessed the last two questions in NVR, just as you told me mummy!"
We went to Greece for the Christmas break and my brother back at home opened the envelope and phoned us that my son had passed the first round of QE.
As soon as we returned from Greece he had to take 3 exams in the space of 8 days (one was QE's second round). He was called for interviews in both of the independent schools. In all exams he went as if he was going somewhere for fun, and came out happy and confident. I realised that he had stopped being scared a long time ago, and rather than taking the exams as a threat, he faced them as a challenge to be tackled and hence fun. Two weeks after all the exams had finished he told me that he missed taking exams as was stone-bored at school.
He went for the interviews for the two IDs and unfortunately he was rejected in one, and placed int the wating list for the other. I had to pick the offer from the other ID school at which he had taken the exam earlier. I was shell- shocked as I had the firm impression that everything went fine in the interviews.
7 days later, I found out that my son had passed the QE exams. When I told him, he hardly seemed impressed and still wonders what this fuss is all about. The next day (a Saturday) we had a a parents consulation at his Greek School ( five hours/ week) and I was told flatly that his reading, writing and speaking are all of a GCSE standard and if he was not that very young (he is 10 and a half), taking the exam would have been a thought to seriously consider! I was left gapping at his teacher!
Yesterday we went to see his day school teacher. There was nothing really to discuss. She predicted a level 5 in all subjects and told us that it has been a year now since my kid has been working on level 6 Maths, and continues to write breathtaking stories in his English.
What changed him? To some extnent definetely the help of our excelllent English tutor and my help in Maths. But to another big extent a very simple thing: he grew up and his mind developed. He is a very different kid from the one that he was 6 months ago, and I expect him to be a very different kid when he starts at QE 6 months ahead.
Never give up on your child! They grow up and develop like flowers. At their age 6 months is a lifetime in terms of development, and what a pleasure they are to watch grow up!
Just two -three words advice:
a) Never-ever tell them of their failures, only of their successes. This is not the age for them to reason and think that trying is more important than succeeding. They just do not think like that! Do not worry: they will not become comlplacent. This only happens to adults!
b) make them take as many exams as possible. At the end they will at the very least begin to face exams with apathy, and some will even start to enjoy them.
c) What is this silliness about you or your child opening the envelope? This is not their personal correspondence, and at the end of the day you are their parent and they are your kids! You open the blessed envelope and please-please do remember what I told you in (a).