Reading tips

Reading is essential for a child’s success. The barriers children face with difficulty reading often outweigh their desire to read. Without guidance, support and confidence they never overcome them.
Learning to read is a sequential process; each new skill builds on the mastery of previously learned skills.

Top Tips
Visit the library – make reading a part of your routine.
Read everyday. Whether reading becomes a habit children will enjoy it and know its part of their daily routine.
Attend reading events, libraries, book shops and schools hold many different, often free events.
Take part in reading challenges. Reward your child for reading.
Read with your child. Regardless of your child’s age, children feel great when their parent listens to them read.
Read different materials. Newspapers, magazines are just as good as books so expand your reading materials to gain even more knowledge.
Try reading apps such as reading eggs, endless reader and story kit.


Eleven plus top tips

If your child is in Year 5 then you have approximately 6 months to get them ready for the exam.
If you have a tutor that’s great, but it isn’t enough. A tutor is just one route to success. Home learning and parental support are imperative to your child’s success. Preparing at home using books will support your child.
Here are a few things that will support your child in passing the exam and prepare for grammar school.

1. Practice – there are many books on the market with practice materials that support the English/Maths curriculum and are ideal for supporting your child before the exam. Many have timed practice from 10 minutes. These are perfect for home study, encouraging independence and very easy for parents to monitor each day.
2. Planning – make a plan and stick to it. If your child has a clear structure it will become habit. In addition to preparing for the entrance exam they will also be prepared for the grammar school expectations and workload. A little bit every day will help your child retain what they have learnt.
3. Develop a wide vocabulary – spellings, a wide vocabulary and good comprehension skills are essential. Reading a wide range of genres, crosswords and word searches will develop these skills.
4. Time tables – these need to be solid. Practice them and ensure your child is as confident with harder times tables as they are the easier ones.
5. Is grammar school right for YOUR child? Remember selective schools are not for everyone. Think about the distance to school and how this will fit in with family life and your child’s extra curricular activities.

Useful websites


Parental support

Parental support is so important in your child’s achievement. Whether they are doing gymnastics, football or preparing for the 11+ exam.
Home learning and pupil independence is extremely important for the preparation of any exam, the transition into secondary school and educational success. It is extremely important for children to start reading good quality books with an adult and identify new words and answer questions related to the text.
Reading and spelling will increase your child’s vocabulary. Encourage your child to practice using these in context (writing sentences and conversation).
The English section of the exam is largely vocabulary based and having a wide vocabulary helps children tackle most verbal reasoning questions effectively.
Within maths ensure your child is confident in the following:
– times tables up to at least 12
– square numbers to at least 12 squared
– basic percentage, fraction and decimal equivalents half=0.5=50%
Set your child personal targets and individual goals for your child based on their strengths and areas for development.
This will help your child to progress at school and help to prepare them for the 11+ exam.
Ensure your child is learning everyday. It doesn’t have to be a test on a table, learning can take place in many forms.
Try apps on phones and iPads, practice maths through board games and card games. There are many fun learning work books that encourage children to work at home and help children to improve independence and develop a regular learning habit.

Just to recap
Reading – make reading an every day habit.
Comprehension- ensure your child understands what they read including the vocabulary used.
Timed tasks – activity books will help test your child from as little as 10 minute sessions. The exam will include many questions to practice in a short time, so speed and accuracy is really important.
Mental maths – mental maths can be done anywhere, in the car, on the train etc.
Study timetable – you and your child can create a timetable to keep track of their learning

Useful websites

Useful book brands providing 11+ practice material.



Encouraging your child to read

Reading is essential to learning whatever your age.

All reading is valuable whether it is fiction, non fiction or through technology.
From an early age I have loved reading although since having children and with a busy lifestyle my reading habits dwindled. My reading became limited to predominately holidays. Since starting my Masters last year I’ve realised how much time I actually have for reading when you prioritise it. This year I’ve challenging myself to read 52 books in 52 weeks so I’m looking forward to expanding my reading list and learning new things.

With my own children I have always encouraged reading, we have books in the home and we visit the library too.

Top tips for encouraging reading

1. Create a reading list

Try different authors and genres 
Here are some great classics I think all children should read.
Harry Potter and the philosophers stone
Great expectations
Goodnight Mr Tom

2. Set a reading challenge
Reward your child when they’ve completed it

3. Read different materials
Magazines, newspapers and informative booklets

4. Make reading fun

5. Encourage reading techniques such as reading the blurb

6. Reading together – to encourage reading start the book and read with the child. Get your child to read to you at bedtime.

7. Model reading and enjoy reading yourself so your children see you reading.

8. Read a book your child has read, children love discussing a book they’ve enjoyed, especially with a parent.

9. Electronic reading, reading via apps, audible, kindle and other educational sites such as Reading Eggs. It doesn’t matter how you read as long as your child enjoys it.

10. Find reading events for your children. Authors often


Becoming a grammar school mom

After just over a year of tuition (a hour round trip every Thursday to get him there for his 6-8pm lesson)  and prepping for the exam at home, my son passed his eleven plus exam.
It was two years ago that he sat the exam and that was just the beginning..
He sat the exam, we waited (the longest 5 weeks ever) he’d passed!
He made his choices for school – yes he made his choices! (within reason and parental guidance). After some dispute with his father (I was adamant that he had put the hard work in and he would spend the next at least 5 years there he should make the choice). Although he’d passed this didn’t guarantee a place at a grammar school.  We chose schools based on the best that suited his needs which I think is the most important factor.
More waiting for when he had his choices in March 2016. I was over the moon he’d got into his 4th choice it was an excellent grammar school. But it was far and I was worried about him getting a train there.
He was offered another place within the same week, his second choice, a school we’d visited twice and we both absolutely loved!
Malakie had decided he wanted to try to obtain a scholarship at 2 nearby independent schools. He sat the exams and did really well. He had an interview at one he really wanted to go to but didn’t get offered a place. He was devastated at the time but I assured him he would be successful wherever he went to school.
One year on and he’s had an absolutely amazing first year.
His achievements have been phenomenal.
His made the Rugby and cricket A teams.
Became captain  of the athletics team
He was voted by the majority of his class to become the house sports rep
He’s entered a debating competition
Joined numerous lunchtime clubs
Achieved 3 awards at the end of term for outstanding attendance, progress in French and German.
Just to add he doesn’t spend all day in his books, he’s a well rounded child….plays computer, meets friends, goes to the cinema and you tubes like most 13 year olds.

I promised when I gave up full time work and pursued my business I would dedicate a lot of time to my children’s school life and extra curricular activities so I became PA mom and parent governor. Volunteered at numerous events, been a rugby mom, cricket mom and general taxi service.
My sons school is an hour round trip (on a good day) so going to parents evening is a day trip in itself.
I don’t want a medal but I want to raise awareness of the dedication needed from parents as well as the children, this has just been the first year! This obviously applies to all schools but the commitment and expectation of a grammar school pupil is huge as they have had to put so much into just getting into a competitive school.
Passing the exam is just the beginning, I didn’t say goodbye to my son as he entered secondary school WE started a new chapter in our lives.

Success is not down to luck, it’s not always an easy or straightforward journey. It takes commitment, discipline and hard work.

Parental support is eight times more important in determining a child’s academic success than social class.

A quote taken from my sons news letter as he entered Year 8.