11+ & pre-test hell – who to turn to that will make a difference…

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Have heard it all from my friends for years, but always thought, couldn’t be as bad as they describe…but it is!

The countdown has begun and trying to keep a 10/11 year old focused and working when all they want to do is watch You Tube is not at all easy (I am with them, I like nothing better than a You Tube session with Trinny!).

We all know that in the big scheme of things they will be fine, and as long as they are healthy it is just another hurdle we have to help them over.

I am a control freak, as is my son, and when I try to discuss revision etc we end up fighting and shouting.  I think every family should do what works for them, but for us, having a tutor helped.  She organised my son and assisted us in understanding the process.  We started a year before his exams.  My view is that if you can sit with your child and do the papers and online questions then you may not need one one if you don’t have the time or patience then it can only help.

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Last year I got so nervous about the entire process of finding a secondary school that I slightly went to the dark side.  By that I mean nit picking with my son and arguing about why he had given up chess, didn’t want to play tennis any more etc etc, all fuelled by school gates chat.  Thank God for Nadine Shenton, a friend recommended her and we had a session last year and Archie and I have never looked back.

She doesn’t tell you how to get into a school or what not to do, she tells you how truly phenomenal your son is (I knew this anyway but the process can make you compare..) and how to actively listen and talk to them so that they listen.

Every child is different but here are the specifics I picked up:

  1. There are no shy children, some children just think before they speak and telling them they are quiet or shy is simply wrong. My son loves people and when she did a session with him the two odd things he said, were all things I had told him to say!  A big lesson was learned.  Children need to talk about things they are truly are interested in, otherwise it comes across as lacklustre and fake.  My son loves You Tube and when I heard him talking about it to Nadine you could feel the passion and that is what counts
  2. Let children be the best versions of themselves, not a poor version of someone else
  3. Manners do count, looking someone in the eye when you talk to them and having a decent handshake
  4. Listen to what they have to say and repeat back exactly what they have said, so they know you have understood them (the best lesson that I picked up from her)
  5. Try not to shout over them (I hold my hands up, I am still rubbish at this).  If children feel heard they will share more. We still end up fighting (usually me feeling insecure as a parent) but I have learned to leave it and go back to the revision when we are all calmer. It works!
  6. It is OK to be a child.  It is so easy to get carried away thinking they need to be Apprentice candidates at 11, they don’t
  7. Nadine doesn’t coach children, she just gives them some practice in the kinds of questions they may be asked in an interview, and gives the parents tips on where some tweaking may be needed
  8. The process of finding a next school can be cut throat and can lead us parents to doubting the glory of our own children.   Nadine has a special gift to remind us how special they are 

Nadine Shenton works with children, showing them ways to boost their confidence, and learn interview techniques in preparation for transferring to their next schools.

Her company is called Confidence in Kids and she can be contacted on 07850 058708 or email her at studio@nadineshenton.com should you wish to learn more.

We will be organizing a workshop with Nadine in London this term and if you would like an invite please email me on catwalkschoolgates@gmail.com. Nadine will also do consultations on the phone too, if you are not in London.

She is worth every penny and does not charge a lot for the peace of mind she engenders.


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Anne Marie

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