If 7 year olds are to sit an exam – and an extremely challenging one at that – the least we can do as educators and parents is to make the experience enjoyable! We all know that children learn best when they are engaged, so we’ve compiled our favourite strategies to ensure that our children associate education with excitement.
Channel your inner Jason Bourne
In a similar fashion to disguising vegetables into children’s meals, learning can be packaged in many exciting ways. Exam preparation can be daunting for a child, but it could be sold as a series of challenges, where completion of each challenge unlocks a piece of the puzzle. Delivering challenges in the post adds to the mystery, and a “welcome” pack from the secret service will make things even more official. Don’t forget to include an agent badge complete with an undercover alias, and branded stationary.
Also popular with children is role reversal, where the student becomes the master. Ask your child to mark your work (littered with mistakes, obviously) and challenge them to ‘up-level’ it – can they reproduce the work, making it much better than it was before?
The world is your classroom!
Take learning away from the desk and incorporate it into everyday life. For example, practise addition and subtraction using the numbers you can see on car registration plates, describe the setting of where you are using the five senses, or create shopping lists – not forgetting to check the total costs and calculating change, too!
Family games nights will also give your child a chance to work on their reasoning skills (and their gracious loser face). Chess is particularly effective in developing problem-solving skills.
Let’s make it snappy, people
7 plus revision sessions should be a 100m sprint rather than a marathon. Your little Usain Bolt should aim to work in 20-minute blocks, when their mind is less likely to wander. Revision time can be increased as the exam edges ever closer, but a “little and often” approach will help to maintain focus. Timed activities also add an element of fun and challenge, for example can they complete the task before the timer runs out?
Study buddies? The more the merrier!
As ambitious as it may sound, group tuition or paired revision can work (provided many a rule and regulation are put firmly in place). Children tend to be competitive in nature, so being able to see another child’s work or hearing a different approach to solving a problem may inspire them more than if they were solely listening to the drone of a teacher. Asking children to edit one another’s work can also be useful as they often take more heed when feedback is given by their peers. A word of warning though – children are notoriously tough critics, so perhaps a lesson in diplomacy prior to the study session is a wise idea!
Pop culture – pay attention
Is your child Harry Potter daft? Go the full Hog(warts) and use scenes from the films as creative writing inspiration, write comprehension questions based on the novels and create quidditch word problems for maths revision. Whatever their ‘thing’ is, harness it and use it as a base for learning. It can be time consuming for busy working parents to make materials specifically tailored to their children’s interests, which is why we at Wicked Smart offer a bespoke exam paper service. Using your child’s interest as the focus, we can create papers that alleviate the boredom of revision and increase the enjoyment of revision sessions. Dare we say it, but 7 + prep could actually be an enjoyable experience!
The 7+ exam comes at a such a crucial time in terms of shaping children’s attitudes towards their learning. Our main goal is to foster a real love for learning and a hunger for knowledge – both of which will long outlive the time taken to sit a school entrance exam.