As time goes by and the 11+ exam looms ever closer, the summer holidays are a key time to get some extra test practice in. However, many parents find that their child’s results drop during the summer. It can be easy to worry about your child’s potential success, but understanding the reasons behind this dip in results and knowing how to counter it will give you a more productive and less stressful holiday!

A small drop in a child’s abilities over the summer is common across all areas of the curriculum; depending on their home environment, children are less likely to be in a clear routine, may read less and may be spending more time than usual watching TV or playing games. This applies to children preparing for the 11+ too. The summer holidays are a time to relax and recharge, and those coming up to the 11+ will be particularly aware that they have some hard work ahead of them in September. This may lead to them being less motivated to practise, and more inclined to relax and enjoy their time off. Both of these things are important though, and striking a balance will help children to boost their chances of success.

Being away from school will also have an impact on children’s test results; without teachers, classmates or a bright, encouraging classroom to motivate them, children may be less keen than usual on doing some practice work. To them, the holidays are not a time to be working, and they may not yet see the potential for growth.

So, how can you use the summer months to your advantage and maximise your child’s success?

Firstly, set a clear routine that’s not too different from their normal school routine. Ensure children get up and go to bed at the same time each day, and set time aside to work together. Working in the morning might be more productive, and you can then go on to enjoy the day’s activities. Try to foster a good learning environment at home, perhaps with vocabulary flashcards on the walls, or encouraging children to use their 11+ skills throughout daily activities. Reading with children daily as well as completing practice tests will boost the all-important vocabulary. 

Set clear, achievable goals for the day, week or whole holiday. Reaching a goal such as completing four tests a week or reading three books before the end of the summer will get your child used to enjoying the feeling of success and will encourage them to aim for their next goal.  You could also attach a reward to achieving an effort-based goal; for example, having a day out doing their favourite activity when they complete a certain number of timed tests. Rewarding effort as well as attainment will encourage your child to keep trying harder, even if they are struggling.

Finally, try to keep calm and positive throughout the holidays. Children pick up on adults’ stress very easily, so they will feel less pressured if they see the extra revision as an achievable way to boost success and don’t see it as a punishment. If your child has a good balance between work

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