3 Techniques for effective 11 Plus Preparation

Poor studying habits is one of the major reason for the under performance of most children preparing for 11 plus. Most parents do not put much thought upon effectiveness of the techniques used. Imbibing correct studying habits can make a huge difference in the 11 plus preparation and the overall learning.

Let’s first look at the popular but not so effective habits that many children inherit from their parents.

Ineffective studying habits for 11 plus

Some of the habits that don’t work or are ineffective

  1. Long hours of study
  2. Memorising the material
  3. Studying the same material (or subject) for longer periods of time
  4. Reviewing one topic repeatedly before jumping on to the next one
  5. Reading and re-reading the text
  6. Highlighting the most important topics and then reviewing that
  7. Reviewing using the notes

Effective studying techniques for 11 plus

At KidSmart we are constantly looking at the researches published by various organisations in our quest for understanding how the learning works and how to make learning better. Let’s talk about the three most important learning strategies that KidSmart users follow.

Test before learning the content

The pre-test strategy involves answering the questions before learning the content. The pre-test method enhances the learning and improves retention even if the questions are answered incorrectly. The research show that “even failing a test or taking a test before learning new information, can lead to stronger memory for that information than spending the same amount of time studying”. KidSmart users benefit from this technique as the app tests the child with questions for new topics before presenting learning content.

Spaced practice learning

This practice is a bit difficult to start with, as our brain has a tendency to forget a lot. This technique is all about spacing the learning to multiple days instead of trying to learn all in one go. When you answer questions correctly you should park the questions and attempt again in 3-4 days to improve retention. KidSmart users do not need to manage this themselves as the app automatically space out the worksheet practices and repeats the question multiple times over a few days to re-enforce learning.

Interleaved worksheets

Interleaving is a practice technique where related topics are mixed such that the consecutive problems require different approaches. It enhances the ability to find and then apply the right approach to a problem. A contrasting practice is a method where a set of problems that require the same approach are practiced in a block until mastery is achieved. Research work has suggested that interleaved practice is a more effective method of learning subjects like Mathematics. KidSmart worksheets are interleaved where every other question requires a different approach.

Adopting the right methods of learning can make a massive difference in the learning and retention ability of a child. At KidSmart we develop content with the intention to enforce maximum learning and retention. By using the KidSmart app your child benefits from all of the effective learning methods without you having to do anything.

Register for a 14 day free trial now

KidSmart is the 11 plus preparation app for children in year 3 to 5. It has hundreds of worksheets for children to solve with hints and explanations. An in-built dictionary integrated with Oxford dictionary and vocabulary building modules.

Find out more about the app and the pricing plans.

Why your child loves reading but hates writing?

You have known it from day one that your child is smart. He/she learned to read faster, learned to speak faster, and learned to walk faster. Your child has great imagination, is a story teller, and asks intelligent questions. He/she loves reading and you have loaded a rack full of books for your child to read.

You feel great and rather proud to have a child that smart. You can see a great future ahead until you present your child with a writing task. You expect your child to be good, if not great, in writing given the love he/she has for reading books.

You are now confused and start looking around for better books that you can throw at your child. After all, everyone you speak to suggest that better writing is the result of frequent reading. In most cases, it helps; reading improves imagination and could tickle the creative neurons in your child’s brain but your child could be suffering from other issues causing them to refuse to write.


There are many reasons for why a child may not enjoy writing but we are going to talk about only two of them

Hand Strength and how to fix it

If a child does not do much writing then the finger muscles do not develop making writing a struggling task. Fortunately, finger muscles like any other muscles in the human body can be trained and with regular writing can make it less straining.

Any exercises that involve using a pencil and paper can help develop the physical strength required for writing.

Writing Anxiety and how to overcome it

Overcoming writing related anxieties require a very different approach than fixing muscle strength issues. You must first understand what writing anxiety is and what might be going on in the mind of a child when confronted by a writing task.

The last thing you want to do is to browbeat your child into writing. That will only add to the frustration and result into your child disliking it even further. Even worse, if it turns into a phobia. The writing anxiety like many other anxieties has its root into fear and contempt.

Fortunately, this anxiety lives in the mind and can be overcome but first, we need to understand the fears related with writing anxiety so we can craft an informed plan of action.

Fear of getting judged as inferior or dumb – Anecdotally, this is the biggest fear that plagues most writers and results into children disliking writing. No one wants to get judged and stamped as dumb or inferior.

Fear of contempt – Failing to write or write properly could trigger remarks from parents or teachers that could be interpreted as contempt even when the intention was not the same.

Fear of working hard – Writing is not easy, it requires lot of hard work in learning about the subject or topic before you could write anything about that subject. My nephew was asked to write 2 stories about his visit to London during his holiday. This requires him visiting the various places in London, pay attention to the details, collect postcards and useful information etc.

Fear of comparison – The fear that ones writing would be compared with another child’s writing and whose writing is always considered as creative and better.

Fear of inferior handwriting – If a child cannot write in a neat and tidy manner then that could result into handwriting fear when parents, teachers or others start pointing at their handwriting.

Now that we understand some of the fears associated with writing anxiety, the first step that we should take is to admit that such anxiety does exist. Acceptance plays a vital role in overcoming any type of anxiety.

Parents and teachers need to be a lot more supportive and appreciative of the efforts rather than the actual work. Ask your child to write just a few lines about something that they are familiar with rather than giving a topic that they may not feel comfortable about, know less about or require research.

Teach your child to adopt iterative approach to writing where they do not write the whole essay in just one sitting instead they revisit the writing in multiple iterations. When given enough time some children may feel more comfortable about writing.

Follow me on facebook at KidSmart app to get notified of the other blogs that can help your child excel and to learn about how we are developing modern tools to help enhance the learning for your child.

Is subvocalisation impeding your child’s reading speed?

Image designed by Vectorpouch

The human brain has the ability to read and comprehend 1000 words per minute (wpm) but most of us can only read in the range of 200-250 wpm. Most of us read at the speed at which we talk, which is on an average around 150-250 wpm.

At this rate your brain is only working at 25% of the speed that it is capable of. But what is the reason for this low performance?

The inefficiency in the reading speed is caused by a behaviour called subvocalisation which is more of a habit than an affliction. This behaviour is the process of reassurance using auditory means. In layman terms, it is the habit of saying the words in your head when reading and is one of the main reasons why people read slowly and have trouble improving their reading speed. 

This habit is induced by our schools and teachers who have taught us to say the words loudly while reading when we first learned to read during the early years. We were then asked to say the words in the head instead of saying loudly.

When your eyes read the words the visual signals are wired to the brain for processing but your brain is looking for reassurance from the auditory sensors on the word before completing the processing and this leads to a delay in comprehending which results into slow reading speed. 

Subvocalisation or the habit of saying words in the head or out loud is not all bad. It is sometimes useful when the reading material is a bit difficult to understand due to its terminology or vocabulary that you are not familiar with. This can be a useful way to improve the vocabulary but knowing when to use it and being able to control it determines how effectively you can benefit.

The trick to read faster is to reduce the amount of subvocalisation. It is not possible to eliminate it but there are things you can do to minimise it. 

In my next post, I will talk about how to help your child minimise subvocalisation and improve their reading speed which has a direct impact on their ability to comprehend text. 

Follow me on facebook at KidSmart app to get notified of the other blogs that can help your child excel and to learn about how we are developing modern tools to help enhance the learning for your child.

Read 30 Books in 30 Days..drum roll

Group of people reading and borrowing books

OK, I agree that I made the title a bit dramatic. I am not promising that you will be able to read 30 books in 30 days after reading this article but you might be able to do that by using the tools I have mentioned in this blog.

If you are thinking whether it’s possible or not then let me inform you that last year AccelaReader hosted a 30 day book challenge to make people read a book, on an average, in 60-120 minutes.

(My intention with the title was to grab your attention and I hope that I succeeded in doing that. Let me know in the comment if it worked or not.)

The goal of this post is to talk about a few tools and courses that can help you improve your reading speed by up to 3 times.

One of the main reasons of slow reading is subvocalisation, as I explained in my previous blogs and so minimising subvocalisation should be on the top of your list if you need to improve your reading speed. But it does not stop there, you need to then train your brain to read faster.

Trying to do it yourself by keeping track of your speed and then forcing yourself to read faster is like going to a gym without a trainer. You will get results for sure but the results would come slower and it would not be as good as like hiring a trainer.

There are tools that can help your child read faster. These tools use a technique called Rapid Serial Visual Presentation (RSVP) to train your brain into reading faster.

AccelaReader –  allows you to change various settings and your reading speed. You can copy any text into the tool and then read using the RSVP tool. If your child finds the speed to be hard then you can reduce the speed and try again.

Spreeder – works just like AccelaReader and comes with 7 speed settings.

ZapReader – It’s a free service offered by the Spreeder team.

Apart from these tools you may also want to consider enrolling into speed reading courses for a guided track to progress.

SuperBrain – offers a free taster session. They claim to increase the reading speed by 3 times with this course.

Spreeder – apart from offering a product they also offer courses.

Why increase the reading speed?

The improved speed will have a considerable impact on the comprehension ability of your child. It comes with the following benefits,

  • improve concentration and focus
  • maximise comprehension
  • improve memory and retention

At KidSmart, we are learning about the various speed reading techniques and connecting with the experts to explore the strategies. We intend to add tools in the app to help improve the reading speed of your child.

Stay tuned and join our parents community on facebook to be the first to know about when we have added the feature.

Follow us on facebook at KidSmart app to get notified of the other blogs that can help your child excel and to learn about how we are developing modern tools to help enhance the learning for your child.

Chewing gum can improve your child’s reading speed

In my last article I touched on what subvocalisation is and how it affects the reading speed. Now, it’s time to look at the ways to improve reading speed. 

If subvocalisation is the cause for low read performance around 150-250 wpm then surely the solution to the problem would be to reduce the impact of subvocalisation or minimise subvocalisation itself.

First things first, if you have forgotten what subvocalisation is then it is a habit wherein you say the word in your head while reading. The side effect of this approach is that your reading speed is limited by the speed at which you can say the words, also called the talking speed.

Most people read at 200-250 wpm but you need to be reading at least at 450 wpm to stay competitive in this age of information. 

Let’s look at some of the ways you can teach your child to improve reading

  1. Chewing gum – the idea is to distract your mouth and brain from saying the words. Chewing gum can help trick the brain into thinking that mouth is busy doing something else so skips the auditory reassurance. 
  2. Use your finger as a guide while reading – practice to put the finger on the word after the word you are reading and then let your eyes chase the finger as you read. Slowly start to increase the speed at which you move the finger.
  3. Be conscious of your breathing – the trick is to occupy your brain in doing something other than trying to say the words in your head. 
  4. Use peripheral vision – to read the words before and after the word you focus on. This is harder than it sounds and takes time to master but once you get the grip of it, it takes your reading to a whole new level. Imagine looking at just two words in a line but reading the whole line. 
  5. Force yourself – to read at higher speed than your current speed. Set a timer and try to break your record wpm. 
  6. Eliminate the fear – from your head that you may not be able to comprehend what you read faster. 
  7. Stop re-reading text – re-reading trains your mind to read with additional care and thus falls back to the “say words in the head” approach. 

In my next post, we will look at some of the tools that we can use to help with improving the reading speed.

Follow us on our facebook page at KidSmart app to get notified of the other blogs that can help your child excel, to learn about how we are developing modern tools and find out about the awesome work that our team is doing to help enhance the learning for your child.