Positive Talk: Test-Tackling Tips for the 11+

With the 2019 entrance examinations for the Trafford grammar schools just around the corner, last minute preparations are underway for many students. By now
children should be on point with their 11+ academic knowledge- but their attitude and approach towards the exams is also crucial. In many cases where children miss the mark, it is the pressure of the process that trips them up not necessarily how much they know.

On the lead-up to the exams over the next few weeks, I’ll be blogging some top
tips to help your child overcome the inevitable stress of these tricky tests so
they have the best chance of success. As an auditory learner, I’m starting with
my favourite confidence-builder: positive verbal communication.

Mind Your Language!

Negative self- talk can make anyone feel pretty miserable about themselves, and what we believe, we achieve. I see many adults and children alike who are
subconsciously giving themselves negative messages to their detriment. So often
I hear parents saying in front of their child, ‘I can’t do exams, I go to pieces’ or ‘They’re just like me, they get so nervous and shut down’.

‘You’re much better at exams than I am’ or ‘I love the way you keep calm under pressure’ are messages that are much more useful for your child to hear and believe about themselves when preparing for the exams. By modelling a more optimistic viewpoint for your child, you will invariably make them feel more confident and able.

As often as possible, encourage yourself and your child to remove negatives in the
language that you may have got into the habit of using day to day. Tell them what
to do and what they can do as the subconscious mind cannot compute negatives. When you say, ‘Don’t make mistakes’ what a child hears is, ‘Make mistakes’. Using positively-framed intentions such as, ‘Pay attention to detail’ or ‘Work accurately and quickly’ will give your child clearer direction and focus. I use this type of language a lot when I work with children and I find that it makes for a calmer learning experience too.

 Pillow Talk

This is a really quick and effective technique to help your child access and remain
self-confident about their abilities. Recently, I worked in an inner-city school and many of the children I tutored had very low self-esteem when it came to their ability to learn.

We would start every learning session with ‘the pillow’. We would gather round in
a circle and throw the pillow to a chosen person. We would then speak to the
person holding the pillow and give them a compliment. For example, ‘Dee, I
think you are amazing because you always give everything a go even if you think
it’s too hard.’ The children LOVED this exercise, and it always put them into a
positive state for learning whilst building their self-worth.

Using anything soft (or imaginary) to throw, you can practise this exercise with your
child and if you have other children, get them involved too! It’s a fun way to give verbal, strong reminders to your child of their many fantastic attributes and abilities.

My Hero Mentor

I really love doing this exercise with the children as they have such great imaginations. I had a girl who chose Marcus Rashford as a mentor as she wanted
to work quickly and accurately under pressure just like him!

Allow your child to think of an ability they would like to have and someone (a mentor) who has that will help them with their exams. Get a piece of paper and ask your child to draw an image of the mentor in the middle.

Now, ask your child to close their eyes and imagine the mentor is in the room
with them. Tell them, ‘Listen carefully to what [insert name] has to say. How
are they telling you to [do the ability]? What do you know already about how to
do it? What words of encouragement do they have for you?’ Once they have heard
what their mentor has to say to them, they can write the words down in speech
bubbles around their drawing of them.

You can repeat this process several times asking, ‘What else have they got to say?’
until you have a full sheet of positive affirmations and encouragements that your child can place somewhere they can read every day.

I hope you find these tips useful- let me know when you try them out!

Carrie Burke is a fully-qualified primary school teacher and NLP Practitioner. For more details on her classes and courses, visit http://www.carrieburke.com

© Carrie Burke Tutor Work. Not to be copied or reproduced without permission.

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