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 Post subject: Improving Concentration
PostPosted: Wed Jun 17, 2020 11:59 am 
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Joined: Mon Oct 21, 2019 8:40 pm
Posts: 5
Hello All,

My DD is a real fidget! She finds it difficult to hold concentration on any task for more than 10 minutes. It's reflected in the longer tests we are working through. Strong start and than lots of mistakes after a third way through and very rarely finishing a full paper. When we go over the mistakes, she knows how to do the vast majority and will give the right answers.

So, beyond just practicing more papers, do people have any suggestions for any games or suchlike that could help maintain focus for longer periods?


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 18, 2020 10:00 am 
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Joined: Tue Sep 27, 2016 9:52 am
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Hi Relieved,

Is your DD always fidgety - something widely commented on? My DD has dyspraxia and fidgeting is what she does just to stay upright or if she’s feeling anxious. If your DD is generally ok paying attention in class but especially fidgety doing these tests it might be worth reviewing your preparation plan.

You don’t mention which tests you’re preparing for but many on this forum have suggested using ‘10 minute tests’ while working on subject knowledge and question types. Or working on speed without putting a lot of stress on DC. Longer papers are saved for working on exam technique and stamina in the lead up to the real thing.

Are these tests being timed or are they just for working through knowledge and question type?If your tests are close enough you really need to crack on with the longer tests then consider if it’s a physical issue leading to fidgeting, boredom or something else?

If your DD has done a lot of longer tests then boredom might be the cause - try mixing things up, doing different exercises, games, shorter tests...or even take a break.
If attention is an issue generally then look into ways for refocusing. For example, it could be that taking the time to stretch and breathe would help her feel more comfortable and able to continue. I’m sure there are other techniques others can suggest.

Good luck.
PS


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 18, 2020 2:36 pm 
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Joined: Mon Oct 21, 2019 8:40 pm
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Hello PS,

We're preparing for the GL exams. My concern is that because the format is two close together bouts of about 45mins, she will perform well below her potential. We started off with the 10 min tests. Starting off, I gave her all the time she needed so she could become familiar with the types of questions. I also did not ( for the most part! ) comment on or try to halt her fidgeting and general behavior whilst she did the questions. In my mind, I can see her mindlessly kicking the table whilst slouching half way off her chair and looking at what her school mates are doing rather than concentrating on her own work during the actual test.

She's always had more energy than her sisters and its clear an office life sat in a chair for hours is not one going to be one that fits her. But at the same time, as a parent, you want her to be able to give the test her best shot and the result be the result. Being a summer baby, I think some of it is also maturity - age wise, there's almost a two year gap with her older sister but she's only a year group below her.

I think I will go back to the 10 min questions first but this time put her under the time pressure and try and build up to doing two 10min tests back to back before tackling the longer paper again. I think I also need to change my username from Relieved42020( her sister passed ) to Concerned42021!


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 07, 2020 1:47 pm 
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Joined: Sat Jul 04, 2020 3:20 pm
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You could perhaps try a reward of some sort. DD used to trail off after 15 mins due to bordom and wrestlessness. Largely solved this by linking results to the reward of favourite DVDs (now Netflix time!). We had to be careful to make sure the scheme was designed so she found it fair and achievable. The other thing that helped was doing it after exercise (swimming) instead of before. Ds is totally different: no rewards needed


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 07, 2020 10:06 am 
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Joined: Sat Mar 04, 2017 7:02 pm
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Hi All,

Just jumping on this thread to see if there are any other suggestions to improve concentration and focus in the lead up to the actual exams. Like the OP my DS knows the stuff, but loses focus and makes silly mistakes as a result. We have tried Headspace and DS hasn't really taken to it. He did well with mindful colouring in, but we don't always have the time to do that before the tests. I did think about exercise beforehand, but don't want to tire him out. Would be grateful for any other suggestions that people have to get DS into the zone before exams.


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 01, 2020 11:03 am 
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Joined: Mon Oct 21, 2019 8:40 pm
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As the OP, I thought I would comment back on my own question now that the actual results are in and just go over what I did in case it can help others. The DD did squeak through. At the time of the exam, she stated there were three question she did not answer due to time. My thanks to those who responded to the original post.

First off, I don't believe there is a right or wrong answer. Each parent has to take their own child's character into account and mould a solution that works best for them. For mine, as we got to the stage of taking long papers;

1. We went back to the 10 minute timed tests and this time stuck to the time. We did 2 or 3 back to back in one go. Once the time was up for each test, we moved on immediately to the next regardless of how many were left unanswered.
2. For the longer 50min tests, I reduced the time on those as well to either 35 or 40 minutes. The only one I kept the same was the non-VR. However I reduced the volume on those by half. It was not uncommon for up to 25% of the paper to be unanswered and an even bigger percentage for the non-VR.
3. I would give her breaks after 40 minutes or so to blow of steam. Occasionally she never came back!
4. Whilst taking a paper, I would not comment on her posture or behavior. But I would go over particularly egregious examples afterwards. You may find they are losing concentration simply because they get stuck on a question. Go over the importance of just moving on.
5. Attempt the papers in the same sequence of the actual exam. It may well mean tackling the weakest subject last, but if that's how it is in the real exam, that's the sequence you need to practice.
6. We did a couple of practice papers in a paid exam setting alongside other children that had also entered. A genuine reality check is important for all parties.
7. Environment - separate room by herself. No distractions such as siblings, tv in the background, YouTube, etc. Don't give in to siblings who also suddenly take a keen interest in the lesson or want to show off their own work. Kick them out unceremoniously!
8. No incentives on a day to day or week to week basis. But we did let her know she would get a new phone regardless of the final result and this was due to the effort she put in. If she passed, we would be prepared to stretch the budget a bit further!

In terms of general advice, my personal view for parents starting the 11 plus journey is that the most beneficial thing you can do is improve the vocabulary of your child. If you concentrate on nothing else for the next 3 or 4 months, improving the vocabulary will pay the biggest dividend. With the math and non-VR, once you've gone through the topics, they'll either get it or they won't. But if they cannot even comprehend the question, they've got no chance.

We made sure that DD carried on with her external clubs such as Brownies( Covid rules allowing ). We relaxed on some things such as chores( we gave her sister the same leeway the previous year ). 11 plus prep is time consuming. It's important to not make it all-consuming. Remove stuff from her schedule which she doesn't enjoy anyway/pause it for a year/etc.

Have days off and even a week off every so often. The latter was important for my sanity as much as hers! Make sure holidays are holidays. Don't take anything beyond a reading book.

In the final week, we really eased off. Basically nothing unless she asked to go over something.

You may, in the final week, also think about an odd treat like a McDonald's blowout meal. Don't be an idiot like me and keep offering extras like ice-cream on top of the extra large coke. Unsurprisingly, she felt quite sickly during the night. Fortunately, this occurred the evening before the mock exam and not the real thing.

I can now take a few years off until DD4 reaches year 5!
Good luck everyone.


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 01, 2020 2:37 pm 
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Joined: Wed Mar 04, 2009 2:01 pm
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Location: Herts
Thank you so much for taking the time to write this.

I am sure many parents will find it really helpful.

The focus on vocab is really important as is your comment about not being able to do the question if you do not know what one of the command words actually means.

Congratulations on you and your dd for doing well. It is very much a team effort! DG


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