To push or not to push – Head’s Blog #2

Posted: 21st October 2022

Our Head, Mrs Stephanie Piper, was featured in the November issue of Twickenham Magazine discussing National Stress Awareness Week and how parents support children during the pressure of 11+. We are pleased to share the full article below. You can also view the full article here.

It’s National Stress Awareness Day at the beginning of November so I think it’s high time we talked about the ‘P’ word. That’s P for pushing. If I had a pound for every time a parent hinted that their child needed ‘a bit of a push’, well, I wouldn’t need my Headteacher’s salary.

But how do parents get it right? With the 11+ looming, knowing how – and how much – we support our children is key.

I am the founding Head of the new Radnor House Prep School – due to open in September 2023. And I have decade of experience as a Prep school Head. And every autumn term is dominated with questions around this subject. Should we get a tutor? Let them give up sport? Take a week off to help them revise? Homework or no homework? How to prepare them for 11+?

I have experienced this conundrum from both sides. My children grew up in a family with two working parents, I always had that sense of guilt when I heard other (non-working) parents talk about how they helped their child each night, tested them on their vocabulary or practised answers with them for hours.

As a Headteacher and educator, however, I also knew that it is far better for a child to develop their own study skills, to discover what works best for them and where they need help.

So, my answer to this dilemma has not changed much over the years. As a parent I know it is hard to let go, but as a Head, I suggest you do. The best preparation for any exam comes on the day your child starts school, or even before. Being there for your child, helping with their daily homework from Reception onwards, will do much more than stressful cramming pre-11+. Engage with your children, ask about their learning, read with them, talk about what they have read, seen or heard. A child who is confident in their understanding will perform at a much higher level than one who has learned set information.

So don’t over prepare your child. Let them take ownership of their learning. This will reduce the stress levels in the whole family – and it may help with the final result, too.

Categories: Heads Blog

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