It seems we have hit a bit of a wall with our 11+ exams preparations. All was going well until May – June, but in the last few weeks my son has been increasingly reluctant to do any revision. When he does do some work, he is quite resentful and makes loads of really silly mistakes, both in his maths and English.
He wasn’t very well in the second half on June, so I assumed it was just the illness and let him have a break for about 3 weeks from doing his test papers. I was hoping that not having to do anything apart from going to school during those 3 weeks would help him get back on his feet, but I can’t say it did.
Last week, we went away to visit my in-laws for a few days, so no work there. This week it’s been a basketball camp every day and when we got back home, my son was just too exhausted physically to be able to concentrate. I had to leave him in peace again.
There are only 6 weeks left to the first round of the grammar school exams and we can’t really afford to slow down now, when everybody else’s preparations are gathering pace. I know that if he were not ready for his exams at this stage, it would be unlikely he could catch up by mid-September. Nevertheless, not doing anything at all when all other children are getting loads of test papers practice, does not seem like a good idea.
The problem is, my son doesn’t want to do it anymore. When I asked him why, he said that he was bored out of his mind with all the maths and English papers. It was just all too tedious and boring, full stop.
I can fully sympathise with his point of view – the whole 11+ thing is coming out of my ears, too, but I am a grown-up, with a longer-term plan in my mind rather than what is happening this week, I have brought it upon both of us myself and I am able to rationalise having to persevere on the last straight home. It turns out, a 10-year old can’t.
It seems we are facing a burn-out situation. I’ve heard about it before – people saying children should not start preparing for 11+ too early because they can get fed up and completely lose interest. I never though it would happen to us – we only really started getting ready in the beginning of the school year just gone, while I know people in our primary who start having their children tutored 2 – 3 years before the exams! I’ve always thought that was ridiculously early, which is why I left it until the final 12 months. Is appears that for some children even one school year of additional work may be too much to deal with.
I’m not sure what’s the best way of handling this – trying to motivate a child to do something he has lost interest in, is not a very easy task. Do I give him another couple of weeks free of any revision, hoping that it wouldn’t make him fall behind his peers? Do I try to appeal to his ambition? Negotiate? Resort to bribery?
I feel somewhat stuck now, so if you’ve ever dealt with a similar problem, I’d love to hear from you about how you handled it. What worked for you and your child to keep them motivated till the (hopefully not a bitter) end?
Last but not least – if you are considering getting an 8-year old tutored for the exams, beware the 11+ burnout – it does exist, it can seriously disrupt your efforts and contribute to more grey hair than you would ever wish for…