When speaking to a parent with a child in year 5 this week about 11+ preparation it occurred to me other parents might have similar dilemmas. Is my child capable of passing? When to start preparation? Is tutoring necessary and where do I find one? Should I arrange weekly lessons throughout this year, or book an intensive course later? What can I do at home? Where can I find resources relevant to the specific nature of the Bucks test?

Grammar schools afford a fantastic opportunity for a challenging, academic education for the right child. For the wrong child, they can knock confidence and self-esteem. Ask yourself if your child scrapes through the 11+, after hours of extra tutoring, will they struggle with the academic rigour once there, and what perception will they develop of their ability, if placed in bottom sets?

A realistic assessment of their capabilities is a good place to start. Tutoring centres such as Flying Start Tuition or Maple Education, offer a free assessment. As a no obligation, pre-cursor to your child studying with them, they will give experienced, honest advice regarding your child’s chances of passing, recommend how much support they need and what form this should take. Local tutor details can be found on our website.

There are many resources both online and in printed form. Before buying, check they are verbal reasoning based and suitable for the specifics of Bucks. Vocabulary is vital, so encourage your child to read. Performing under time pressure is a key challenge which needs practice to ensure they have a go at all questions.

Families with a child in year 6 will now be biting their finger nails awaiting 11+ results on the 30th November 2012. Even though all may appear calm at home, playground banter and nerves is inevitable, as well as worrying about the test outcome, its effect on their future schooling and their desire to please you.

Keep the 11+ in context. Retaining perspective is vital. Talk openly with your child about how they are feeling. Reassure them that effort is as important as results and you will be proud of their efforts, no matter what the outcome. If you have promised a special treat for success, consider if they might also receive a reward for significant effort since success may be hard to define, when the end result –grammar school place allocation, is out of your hands.

Talk up your Plan B school, so they know you will make sure they have educational opportunities to reach their true potential. Every school has good points to highlight, so research your local school carefully. Ask parents with children at the school to share its strengths. Be prepared with strategies you will put in place to monitor their education carefully and explain that you have plans if they need extra support or access to a whole range of sporting and musical opportunities via local clubs, if these are not offered at your local school.

Even if it causes you to panic inside, your child must not know. They must believe they have no need to worry and that you will make sure everything turns out okay in the end.