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.

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.