Top 5 benefits of laying the 11+ foundation as early as year 3

Portrait of smart schoolgirls and schoolboys looking at the laptop in classroom

The 11+ Exam is a pivotal point in your child’s education. As it will most likely dictate their future path in life, it is perfectly natural to want to start preparing them for it as early as possible.

As you likely know however, the 11+ Exam is not easy! It is designed to not only test syllabus concepts are deeply and truly learnt, but also to wheedle out “the most academically able children” with questions designed to throw less astute pupils off track.

To be able to tackle these topics effectively, students need to ensure they have a solid foundation in the principles of English, Math and Verbal/Non Verbal Reasoning. This is absolutely vital, so for those in years 3, 4 and possibly 5, 11+ prep should focus almost entirely on the development of these core skills.

Although it is not beneficial to start throwing 11+ questions at students before their 11+ foundation is set, there are some ways to build familiarity with them and improve test confidence at a younger age.

So, below we have listed the top 5 reasons to start 11+ prep from as early on as year 3. These are some of the key principles that we have build KidSmart App around.

1. It allows you plenty of time to set a routine

When it comes to learning, getting your child into a regular routine makes all the difference. If they are used to sitting down for a short amount of time each day and focussing properly, they will develop their knowledge and skillset far quicker than if they did longer sessions over a shorter period of time. With KidSmart, you are able to see how regularly your child is using the app and how they are doing in the progress section.

2. 11+ concepts can be introduced early and slowly 

Many 11+ questions are different from the questions students will come across at school. In particular, verbal and non-verbal reasoning papers are designed to test innate ability and to not be coachable for.

In reality there is no magic to these, but if the child has not seen this type of question before the exam they are likely to be completely thrown on the day. So, what you can do is slowly introduce the concepts in bite size, manageable stages, and provide plenty of opportunities for practice.

The first 11+ like questions KidSmart gives to younger students are simplified versions of the real deal, giving them a nice stepping stone approach to follow.

3. Students can study at their own pace

By allowing plenty of time, students can take as long as they need to fully get to grips with topics and techniques of 11+. With apps such as KidSmart, you get the extra benefit of AI that reacts to each child’s abilities and responds by adjusting the difficulty to match their speed of development.

4. It reduces stress

By removing the need to ‘cram’ at the last minute, your child will be far less stressed when exam time comes around. They will perform much better if they are relaxed and comfortable in the knowledge that they have been steadily practicing for years.

5. Students get the opportunity to apply the lessons in other scenarios.

By being able to apply their learning at school and in their own time over long period, their level of understanding becomes far deeper and more ingrained.

For more information on how KidSmart App can help your child prepare for 11+, book a demo via Facebook message. Or if you would like the app, take a look at our pricing plans here.

Kumon, Khan Academy and KidSmart – how to compare?

When trying to get your head around what exactly is on offer with a new product or service, as many of you will be doing right now for KidSmart App, it is handy to be able to compare it to ones you are already familiar with.

Like our founder Baljeet, you are probably acquainted with the likes of Kumon and Khan Academy. So, in this post, we take a look at the service provided by these companies, detailing the pros and cons of each, then compare them to KidSmart App.

Kumon

Also created by a dad who wanted the best for his child, Kumon is founded on the principle of mastery through short, incremental assignments.

Kumon is a bespoke program that focuses on Math and English. Instructors undertake an initial assessment then tailor-make a study plan for each individual student.

It is recommended that the student study for 15–30 minutes for five days of the week and complete another two study days when visiting their local Kumon Center. Study is in the form of pencil and paper worksheets and the worksheets increase in difficulty in small increments.

Pros

  • Kumon provides students with practice studying in a traditional learning environment
  • Worksheets are structured in such a way as to provide comprehensive coverage and understanding of topics
  • As Kumon utilises pencil and paper, students get the chance to improve their writing skills

Cons

  • Unlike app based learning, the student will need to wait to see whether they were right or wrong, so they won’t ever get the dopamine hit that is so valuable when it comes to information retention (learn more about this here.)
  • Kumon learning is one dimensional and therefore not hugely inspiring
  • The absence of variety leads to boredom and lack of concentration
  • There are no built-in-incentives to undertake the work, so parents often have to provide supplementary bribes to unengaged children
  • Kumon is based on rote memorisation technique which has faced criticism as ineffective for younger students
  • Kumon fees vary; but initial registration is typically £30 then a monthly single subject fee of around £60 per child, making it fairly expensive
  • Worksheets do require some adult supervision, as do visits to the local Kumon Center

Khan Academy

We have to admit, Khan Academy is pretty cool! This online platform offers practice exercises, instructional videos, and a personalized learning dashboard so learners can study at their own pace in and outside of the classroom.

They cover a wide range of subjects, including math, science, computer programming, history, art history, economics, and more. They have resources for all ages and offer specialized content through partnerships with the likes of NASA, The Museum of Modern Art, The California Academy of Sciences, and MIT.

The technology behind the platform is state-of-the-art and adaptive to identify strengths and learning gaps.

Pros

  • It’s totally free
  • There are lots of great videos which will benefit students who learn best by this medium
  • Khan Academy works in real time, showing students errors so they can correct them straight away
  • There is an extensive resource library that will inspire keen students in a huge range of topics
  • Great to provide further support on topics covered but not fully understood in class

Cons

  • It is primarily geared up for the American market and not specifically to UK exams such as 11+ or the techniques required
  • Because of the wide scope of topics covered and it being free, there are large gaps in the syllabus and topics aren’t covered in a systematic, failsafe way
  • There is no gamification or incentivisation built in, so students need to be motivated to learn for themselves or by a third party
  • When students get a question wrong they get sent back to the beginning and lose their ‘mastery’ status which often proves incredibly frustrating
  • There is no support functionality built in, so if a student gets stuck they can’t get extra help from a tutor
  • Very few lessons provide real world examples to help illustrate the subject beyond the abstract

KidSmart

The primary reason Baljeet created KidSmart was because these services (and a plethora of others) didn’t quite cut the mustard when it came to keeping his daughter Avni properly engaged and learning at the same time. Avni has a very limited attention span and has set the bar really high when it comes to user experience and engagement.

We hugely appreciate the work Kumon and Khan Academy are doing to help students. As you can see, they both have many highly commendable features and strengths but KidSmart’s strength lies in delivering a holistic and engaging learning experience to help students truly maximize learning, retain information and re-enforce concepts by adapting to each child’s individual needs.

“For us, learning is not memorization of facts but the development of cognitive abilities and cultivation of a growth mindset.”

Baljeet Dogra, Founder of KidSmart

Below we’ve listed an array of facts about KidSmart so you can build a nice clear picture of what we offer.

About KidSmart

  • KidSmart content authors have several years of 11+ tutoring experience.
  • Mixtures of content types to ensure students are kept engaged. Including videos, games, jokes and traditional worksheets with real world examples
  • Results shown in real time so students can correct errors straight away.
  • The perfect level of gamification to maximise learning and to continue to engage the child with different gamification strategies – learn more
  • Over 2000 questions added to the database (and counting!)
  • Tutor support available anytime through messaging functionality and optional services to book one-to-one lessons.
  • Geared up for UK curriculum. Particular focus on CEM and GL 11+ exam formats.
  • Built expressly for the modern, touch screen generation
  • Built-in and personalisable incentives to undertake the work
  • Focus on self-learning and building confidence
  • Various reports instantly available to parents/tutors so they can adjust the learning experience to suit their child
  • Parents have a lot more visibility of the progress and direction
  • Most importantly, parents can provide feedback and request new features.
  • Simplified pricing plans with flexibility to switch at anytime makes decision making much simpler for parents. When combined with offers, promotions and referral options you can pretty much get the app for free. Offers & promotions are regularly posted on KidSmart Facebook Page and in the parents community.

To find out more about how KidSmart works, you can book a private demo of KidSmart App, either by messaging us on Facebook or write to us using this form.

Gamification for learning – we found the formula

Like our founder Baljeet, those of you with children who’ve tried primary education apps and websites already will know there are very few that cut the mustard when it comes to keeping children engaged. There are, of course, many games available that do keep their attention, but sadly these don’t deliver much value on the education front.

Our founder created KidSmart App to address this need for his daughter who has a limited attention span. The key to keeping his daughter engaged is gamification, which when used correctly can support learning in several ways. Below we dig a little deeper into this topic and then outline the features we’ve incorporated in KidSmart to maximise the benefits of gamification.

“The benefits of gamification is not a new concept. Gamification as a strategy is used in many other industries, including education, to improve engagement but at KidSmart we are focusing on how best to use gamification in the learning process to maximise it’s benefits”

Baljeet Dogra, Founder of KidSmart.

Attention & Retention

Brain research tells us that when the fun stops, learning often stops too. Students need to be engaged, motivated and feel minimal stress for information to flow freely through the affective filter in the amygdala. It’s under these conditions that they achieve higher levels of cognition, make connections, and experience “aha” moments. 

On top of this, what really turbo-charges learning is when the experience is pleasurable, as this is when the brain releases dopamine. Dopamine works in two key ways. First, it is a neurotransmitter that activates our “reward center”, so the more dopamine that is released, the more we want to repeat that activity. Second, dopamine stimulates the memory centres and promotes the release of acetylcholine, which increases focused attention.

“At KidSmart, we have put our research into maximising engagement and motivation by using multi-level gamification. There are gems to mine, KidCoins to earn, stickers to collect, personalised prizes to suit each child’s individual taste, trophies and more”

Baljeet Dogra, Founder of KidSmart

KidCoins, stickers and personalised prizes

When your child gets a question right, they are awarded KidCoins. Sometimes, to add more excitement, these are accompanied by gems that vary in value and rarity. But getting these goodies is just the first level of ‘yay’ they experience using the app. 

Those who score 100% on a worksheet receive a sticker. Scoring 100% is not often easy, so to keep kids motivated, we’ve included the ability to retake a worksheet when you get a question wrong – so they can try again for the all-important sticker!

Two more endorphin-releasing features (that are particularly adored by Baljeet’s daughter Avni, year 5) are trophies and personalised prizes. Students are awarded a trophy when they hit their monthly target. This is set by parents and can be adjusted to make sure it’s challenging but not impossible.

What really is a winner when it comes to motivation is how KidSmart gives your child the opportunity to win real-world gifts that you pick! As a parent or grandparent, you know exactly which gift, gadget or day out they desperately want – and will work hard for. So all you need to do is set these up as a reward in the app and set the price to an appropriate number of KidCoins. When your child has enough KidCoins in their bank balance they will be notified that they can receive that reward – and will be sure to let you know toot suite! 

My daughter’s favourite is buying “Make a parent clean your room” gift card.

Baljeet Dogra, Founder of KidSmart

Not making life too easy

Another important factor in keeping students motivated is not making the topic too straightforward, or so difficult that they give up.

To address this, KidSmart App uses adaptive technology to work out the right difficulty level for your child. But again, every child is different, so after experimentation, we realised the need for parents to have additional control. This means that if at any point your child feels stuck, you can just relax the difficulty level to help boost their morale right back up again.

Another intriguing feature in the ‘not too easy’ category is that children have to pay (using their precious KidCoins) to see explanations. Now, on first hearing this, we’re sure you will be a bit bemused as to why we put a barrier in between your child and new information. But, fear not, this feature was actually suggested by Avni, and makes a lot of sense!

Avni pointed out that by making all explanations free, it was too easy for her to cheat! It meant she was simply reading explanations all the time, often the same ones multiple times, and busting her way through the levels. By having to pay for an explanation, Avni was utterly determined to ingest the information so she didn’t have to pay twice, i.e. it actually ensured she was learning.

A healthy dose of variety, mystery and competition

To keep a child’s attention, it is important not to be predictable. So we’ve incorporated plenty of features in KidSmart to surprise children and keep them on their toes.

These include dopamine-rich experiences like receiving a ‘double reward’ or ‘triple reward.’ These are bestowed at random when kids answer questions correctly. They come with a firework display and boost the child’s KidCoin count, so are highly exciting.

We’ve found our testers are also greatly intrigued to find out which Sticker they will win next, so this is a strong motivator to score a perfect 100%. Then there are a few extra treats that pop up at random to keep students entertained, such as jokes, funny videos, and Super Mario style games!

KidSmart app shows a joke

The final factor we’re mentioning here is the option to have a healthy bit of competition. With KidSmart, you can connect with friends – and compete! This is another one of Avni’s favourites.

Would you like to try KidSmart App? Register here for early access

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