Give your child the right tools to succeed in their school entrance exams
By Louise Martine
17 Jun

Louise Martine, author of Study Skills 11+ and a mother of four, explains the best type of support parents can give their children who are taking school entrance exams.

You can do many things to support your children, from the the subtleties of language you use with them through to the resources that can support their learning. In this article I hope to share some ideas which may help you prepare your child not only for their entrance exams, but throughout their school careers.

1. Use the right motivational language
Carol Dweck, a professor of psychology at Stanford University, is a leader in the field of student motivation. She conducted research to show the way in which you praise a child's achievement is crucial. If you praise your child's achievement by saying how clever or intelligent they are, it will make them feel their intelligence is being judged. It may cause them to avoid challenges in the future because they don't want you to see them as a failure. Instead, praise your child for their effort, the strategies they use to tackle tasks, their perserverance and focus. Encourage them to believe they can do it. This will give them greater persistence in approaching their entrance exams and the ups and downs of life.

2. Be a good role model
Make sure you are approachable. Show your child you care and love them, not by constantly saying 'I love you' but by taking time to talk to them. Put your phone down when your child gets home from school. Find an effective way to communicate with them by praising them for what they do well and encouraging them to try new things.

3. Encourage a good frame of mind
If you spend time revising a piece of information again and again, your neural pathways get stronger and information goes more easily into your long-term memory. This is why good revision sessions are vital. However, if your child is stressed and worried, hormones are released making it difficult to learn. You can help by:
  • Encouraging exercise, relaxation and having a positive mental attitude. Body language can even affect how we feel about ourselves. For example, adopting a 'high power pose' for two minutes should make you feel more confident and enthusiastic. This is a great strategy for your child to use if they are nervous before an exam.
  • Staying hydrated, getting a good amount of sleep and following a healthy diet are also very important.
4. Organise successful revision sessions
The greatest key to exam success is preparation. The first step is to get organised. Help by creating a tidy and inviting workspace for your child to do their homework and revision. Start this early on. If your child gets into a routine it won't be such a shock when the pressure to revise is upon them.

Start by making a plan over a longer period such as as the whole school year. You can help your child master certain topics by scheduling in an hour or so once a week. Then, in the run up to exams, set your topic priorities by choosing the most important areas which need improving.

Encourage your child to work on their own. Being self-motivated is more valuable than work completed in anger, frustration or apathy.

5. What resources are available?
If we can teach children how to learn, we can help them reach their full potential. My book Study Skills 11+ explains how you can help your child to improve the effectiveness of their revision by harnessing how they learn best.

The book also covers study skills techniques such as identifying key words, revision cards, flow charts and mind maps, and focuses on techniques that work well for revising English, Maths, Non-Verbal and Verbal Reasoning.

Study and revision giudes are a good source of information. Although your child probably knows a lot already, they are useful for identifying any knowledge gaps. They could start by reading through the contents pages, highlighting any topics they feel they don't know as well. Your child could then move onto practice papers and workbooks.

The Galore Park 11+, 13+ and Pre-Test revision series follows this process. First its Study and Revision Guides teach the essential knowledge and skills required to answer exam questions. Then its Workbooks, Practice Papers and past ISEB papers put what has been learned to the test.

6. And finally...
The last thought I will leave you with is that your level of involvement will undoubtedly vary. All children are different; some may be very motivated and others might be on a different planet! Certainly this has been my experience as a parent of four. It can be frustrating but when you perservere and something clicks it can become hugely rewarding. What has kept me going is the belief that every child has the power to succeed - it is just a case of giving them the right support.

To find out more about how Galore Park can support your child in getting into your school of choice, click here.

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