They say a picture conveys a 1000 words and for those of us who live in London and have children who will – inevitably – take the 11+ exam (or 7+/13+) to gain entry into the most coveted senior school places, the 11+ conjures images of bloody backstabbing, intense Olympic-tutor-training and Edvard Munch type fear. (For those of you who don’t have kids – stop reading – or this will put you off kids forever).
But don’t worry. You are not alone. And you will survive. I promise.
The bad news is that it can be as bad as you can possibly imagine, I mean tears, pill-popping and lying-to-your-best-friends-face bad. But the good news is that it doesn’t have to be and I am here to hold your hand and guide you through the whole process. Not sure if I will actually help, but think of me as a ‘survivor’ and someone who made it out alive in – barely – one piece.
I was very lucky in that I had friends with older children who had gone through the whole process and gave me their infinite wisdom, some of which I ignored completely, but a lot of it which helped me infinitely. And for those who don’t have that luck, well it’s your lucky day, because I can be that person. Hopefully, in the next few blog posts, I can give you some of my wise advice.
So to start, ** drumroll* here are my 10 Commandments for getting through the 11+ and Senior School Exams:
- Always remember, it’s the school that chooses your child. Not the other way around.
- Look at schools that will fit your child, not where you think you would like your child to go to.
- It’s not about what you want. As a matter of fact, it’s not about you. Did I already mention that?
- Over tutoring may not be a good thing. They may end up overanxious, stressed out, eating too much or too little, and end up a statistic in the increasing teen mental health problem.
- Don’t listen to what so-and-so is doing. Anyway, most of them are lying.
- As a matter of fact, if you really want to stay sane, don’t talk to any of the other mums at the school gates. Choose a few close confidantes that you can talk to, who will support you, and that’s it.
- Make a plan of what you think is reasonable for your child. Don’t over tutor just because you think you have to. Have a clear idea of where your family values lie and don’t waver.
- Have reasonable expectations and be realistic – if your child is in the bottom sets, don’t try to make them sit St Paul’s. That’s just a waste of time and energy.
- Don’t stress, or your child will stress too.
- Remember, it’s your child’s race, not anybody else’s. So support them, love them, guide them, but the rest is up to them.
So remember, just Keep Calm and Carry On and you will get through this.
And Good Luck!