Top 5 ways to improve your child’s comprehension skills for 11+ exams
It can be difficult for your child to grasp comprehension, it’s not quite as formulaic as mathematics, not as creative as writing a story but still a very key part of your child’s education. With 11 plus comprehension being a key part of Key Stage 3 examinations, it is crucial your child begins to hone their reading skills as their ability to analyse information will be used throughout their entire education and their career.
Within this article you will see the ways in which comprehension is an essential skill and how to ensure your child achieves excellent skills for 11plus comprehension exams while also enjoying themselves in the process.
Table of contents
- Top 5 ways to improve your child’s comprehension skills for 11+ exams
- What is 11 plus Comprehension ?
- How to Improve Your Child’s Skills for 11plus comprehension exams
- Comprehension Tips in 11+ Exams
What is 11 plus Comprehension ?
You may be wondering, what actually is 11 plus comprehension? Why is it so important? Well, 11 plus comprehension is the ability to understand a text and be able to decode meanings within the writing. It is important as this skill is applicable to all subjects such as science, maths and all data related questions.
It teaches key skills when reading information: distinguishing from fact and opinion by analysing language, ability to summarise points, finding key facts and information in large bodies of texts and drawing conclusions.
As previously stated, those who have excellent comprehension skills can go on to become lawyers, scientists, editors etc, thus illustrating the importance comprehension has within our society and why your child needs to start honing these skills early.
How to Improve Your Child’s Skills for 11plus comprehension exams
Reading is such an important part to improving your child’s comprehension skills for 11plus comprehension exams! Start them off on literature that is perfect for their age group, simple things that they are comfortable reading.
Have them read aloud to you, this will build their confidence and teach them to read carefully and slowly, truly paying attention to the words they are reading instead of glossing over them.
In return you should also read to them; this will help their ability to listen and absorb information while also making reading fun and interactive.
With this, it is also important to have them read by themselves when they are alone. Take them to the library or the bookstore and allow them to choose their own novel to read (again something within their age group), make sure it’s one that interests them. Once they begin reading it, ask them to summarise chapters or what the characters are like.
Again, this will make your child engage with the text as opposed to reading passively and be able to extract key information from all texts. This is more fun and social way of easing your child into improving their comprehension.
For those times when you are busy or your child wants to read to someone else, companies like PiAcademy offer online reading clubs suitable for year 4, year 5 and year 6 students. They meet twice a week for 45 minutes and provide motivation for your child to read while improving their confidence in reading and public speaking.
Working on Vocabulary
Understanding texts and being able to read them confidently is only part of comprehension, having a vast vocabulary will make this easier as it will provide more context and meaning to the texts they will attempt to decipher.
As aforementioned, the reading club that PiAcademy offers also helps with building an excellent vocabulary with a tutor that can explain the meaning to these words or having the children put their minds together and try to figure out what the word may mean based on the context of the prose they are reading.
While it is undeniable that reading does help expand your child’s vocabulary, there are more ways in which to help them learn new words making it fun and educational for them. Why not start early by playing word-based games such as scrabble (whether it be the board game or online) with them? Spelling bees are another example of an excellent way to have your child learn new vocabulary.
By testing their memory of spelling and definitions they can read texts with more difficult words and know immediately what this means. You can have them write down the new words they learn or the words they like best.
Similarly, you can also provide opportunities for them to utilise these words within conversations to make sure they are implemented into your child's vocabulary instead of being forgotten.
To further test their knowledge, your child can use PiAcademy’s vocabulary tests. There are numerous papers where your child can be frequently challenged not just on the meaning of words but also on the formation of meanings by analysing suffixes and prefixes
Comprehension Tips in 11+ Exams
Now that your child has built up their confidence in reading and vocabulary you may now be wondering, how do I apply these skills to comprehension within an exam context with time restraints? Well, everything they have learnt and developed is crucial to attacking the texts that will be before them within the 11 plus examination.
1. Read the Text
It is crucial that the child reads the text, but not quickly or simply to gloss over it for information. They must read it how they would read aloud, slowly (of course not too slowly) and purposefully, sure to pay attention to every word.
Oftentimes the ticking clock can make one think they need to rush, but rushing through the reading can lead to missing out on keywords and information.
2. Read the Questions
Just as your child read through the text calmly and slowly to absorb the information, have them read over the questions in the same way. This way they will understand exactly what the questions want them to do and what they want your child to pay attention to within the text.
3. Go Back and Read the Text
Now with the questions in mind, the student must go back and read the text. Highlight or underline any information that is important and relevant to the questions. Be sure to analyse the language used. If the question asks for facts, lookout for data and statistics that may be provided within the passage.
Keep an eye out for words that suggest opinions instead of facts such as “suggests”, “believed” etc.
While in an example it is very easy to become engrossed with the paper and forget there is a time constraint. Be sure to read carefully but time it so you spend no more than ten minutes on the reading to ensure you do not run out of time when answering questions.
4. Make Sure to Stick to the Passage
It is very easy to go off on tangents when writing or answering a question. Or if the text is something your child is familiar with they may be tempted to discuss their own knowledge on the subject and try to use that to support their answer. However, this is not what the marker will be looking for.
They want to be sure your child can closely and accurately analyse a text and extract key information, or be able to understand what is insinuated by the language within said texts. That’s why it is important to only focus on the information provided and to not bring in anything else.
5. Practise, Practise, Practise!
All of this can be difficult to remember when going into a 11 plus comprehension exam for the first time. That’s why, before your child steps into an examination room they need to have lots of practice utilising these skills so it becomes second nature to them during any exams.
Once again, PiAcademy offers numerous comprehension papers that your child can do at home. This will help them become comfortable with the language used in the papers, the types of questions they will have to answer and get used to reading under timed conditions.
It is extremely helpful to start early to build your child’s comprehension skills, but if you don’t there is absolutely no reason as to why your child can’t achieve high marks within comprehension exams if they follow these five tips. This article helps your child improve and build on their skills while also having fun and getting ready for exams.
Hopefully, by following these tips your child will be able to enter the examination room with confidence and experience in order to tackle the questions they will be asked. These tips will ensure your child will have some of the sharpest analytical skills there are and help them achieve the highest marks in their 11plus comprehension tests.
Ultimately, it is important to remember that the aforementioned skills are not only useful for just Key Stage 3 exams but they are the very foundations of what they will be required to use for the rest of their life. Analytic skills are applicable in all environments, thus making it imperative that these children learn to utilise them from a young age.
From falling in love with reading, to finding it fun to learn new vocabulary, your children will also grow their imagination which is another useful skill to have within the education system and outside of it.