January, cold, grey and dark, so of course also the time for three, seven or eleven year old to sit school assessments. For those of you enjoying that lovely process I went back to my favourite source, Susie Wesson from the Hall School, to ask her top tips for helping your child through these choppy waters.
Consistent as ever she gave me some that work regardless of age.
Make sure that you don’t’ return late from a holiday/trip/visit the day before. Children can take up to a week to recover so give them at least a week to settle back into their regular routine.
2. Be Organised
If your child is attending multiple schools make sure you check the instructions for the right school. If they are older check what they need, pens (enough ink), pencil cases etc. If they are younger make sure they have been to the loo. Whatever age do you best to make sure they have eaten well. Don’t just check dropping off time but also what time you should pick them up. Let them know who is going to collect them and as a rule of thumb its better not to leave your child to be the ‘lucky’ last.
3. Be on time
Know where you are going and make sure your leave plenty of time to get there. Being early is fine but not too early, up to fifteen minutes beforehand seems to be acceptable.
4. Engage with your children
Whether it is an early years assessment or an interview later on, the schools are looking for children who listen, understand and engage where possible. Yes we all know we should do that but from very early on this and here are three different ways to do it. Make sure you read with your children. Even at 10 or 11 they still enjoy it. Discussing the story is great way of extending knowledge but also opening conversations about other things. Watch television together. Although not many parents want to encourage it, watching something like Esio Trot as a family meant we all discussed the story what we liked, didn’t like etc. Finally go to an exhibition. Again two important tips from Susie.
Luckily most museums and galleries are now free in London so when you go only look at one or two pictures or do the trail (most places have them). This allows your children to engage but doesn’t overwhelm them and then afterwards over the muffin or hot chocolate they are still excited to talk about what they’ve seen.
All children need downtime although they may use it in different ways. The older they are the more preparation they have to do. Most people seem to work better in the morning so the final tip is make sure they have had a good sleep, eaten well and done some exercise and then let them do their work. Most children can’t focus for more than forty minutes at a time. So don’t leave them at the books all day and when they break let them choose how.
To all those going through the process. Good luck and like the long nights and grey days this soon shall pass.