New Year's Resolutions
Updated: Jan 4
In the post-Christmas lull, I always find myself in a reflective mood. And this year has given me plenty to reflect upon! Who could have guessed, this time a year ago, that you* would have spent the large part of the school year at home, isolated from your friends and adapting to a new sense of normality? My life has certainly changed beyond all recognition (job, home, family...). The new year, as ever, brings opportunities for growth and change. Starting as I mean to go on, here is the first (of 2021) of my monthly blogs, aimed primarily at those preparing for 11+ exams.
* 'you' refers to 'your child' - mainly I assume you are a parent reading this on behalf of your child.
Instil good study habits from day one! If I could give one piece of advice to improve your chances of success, it would be to BUILD UP YOUR VOCABULARY. This can not be done overnight. Therefore, I encourage you to buy a vocab building book and dedicate approximately 15 minutes each day to this task. Here are some suggested publications to get you started:
> 11 Plus Vocabulary (Rose McGowan) - 100 exercises for 100 days
> Synonyms & Antonyms (Christine R Draper) - a further 100 exercises
> The Big 11+ Vocabulary Play Book - packed with engaging activities that make learning vocab feel like fun.
>SATS Skills: Spelling & Vocabulary Workbook (Bond) - crosswords, handy word lists, ages 8-11+
For further ideas to develop your vocab, you may wish to read my blog post specifically dedicated to vocab building: https://www.misswrite11plus.co.uk/post/10-ways-to-build-up-your-vocabulary
The trick is to pick a time when you know you are always free (e.g. straight after dinner). Once in a routine, it becomes easier to stick to.
Read every day! I prescribe 20 to 30 minutes before bed. This will provide a natural context for all the new words that you are learning. For inspiration, visit The School Reading List. Here you will find reading recommendations for every year group, as well as writing competitions, costume ideas for world book day and much more.
Practice makes perfect! At weekends and holidays, you should familiarise yourself with 11+ test papers. Pay special attention to the ones you got wrong - a careless mistake (how could you avoid this in future?) or lack of knowledge? A parent or elder may be able to extend your knowledge. There are also some excellent websites for the self-motivated learner. Free ones include:
> BBC Bitesize - all subjects, all ages
> School websites - these usually provide sample papers, though often without sample answers.
To purchase study materials, a vast range can be found at:
> Pi Academy - 7+ to GCSE
> Exam Papers Plus - 6+ to GCSE
> Bond - specialising in the 11+
For those of you who prefer a more timetabled approach, you can attend group classes - Prime Tuition is popular in my local area (SE London), or Kumon is available nationally. Alternatively, there's individual tuition. I have some limited availability at the moment. I usually take students on in year 5 in the final year of preparation before 11+.
Finally, here is a PowerPoint presentation that I have recently shared with parents of my year 5 pupils:
That's all from me for now. Whatever your goals or stage of learning, I wish you all the very best for the coming year. With a good attitude and a systematic approach, may you travel far!
Next blog: February