Building up his students
By Lisa King | Mon, July 23, 2012 - 11:25 AM
Peter Parris boasts of turning children who are not performing well at school into students fully prepared to ace the Common Entrance Exam.
He directs the 11-Plus Academy and for the third year is holding the Be Prepared And Ready Common Entrance Summer Camp designed for children in Class 3 who will sit the exam next year.
Parris said the 11-Plus Examination has become one of the most widely anticipated events in the lives of children. It also prompts parents to put pressure on them to do well. Out of that, he said, the summer camp was born to expose them to the type of material they are tested on in the common entrance exam.
He said that this year was phenomenal for the academy – they prepared 40 students and 33 made the top six schools. This, he said, was possible because he pushes really hard to complete the syllabus in both English and mathematics by the end of the first term to leave time for practice leading up to the examination.
However, he said it was important for parents to start children in the regimen early. Even though he has, as he put it, “turned many zeroes into heroes”, he said it was always best to work at building that child over time.
“It is not necessarily the best thing to pump up a child to perform well in an exam and then when s/he goes home for the summer, nine weeks no academic work . . . so s/he comes into Harrison College or Queen’s College and finds that s/he is scrambling at the bottom of the pack.
“The younger the kid starts with me, the more solid s/he is in the examination,” Parris said.
The academy takes children from Class 2 who are competent readers and instills in them the three basic components of success: empowerment, confidence, and then motivation. During the nine weeks of the summer holiday, students cover at least 70 per cent of the syllabus.
However, Parris expressed concern that over the past two years the standard of the exam has fallen.
“Prior to 2010, the exams were acceptable to test a spectrum of students from above average to below average.
“Now the exams that I am seeing are for the average and below average [student], so that the above average are really stomping the yard with it.”
Another thing he took issue with is that some teachers are not as concerned about the students as in days gone by, and are not prepared to work with children who learn more slowly than others.
What Parris does is assess the child’s proficiency.
“A lot of them have gaps in knowledge and go from one class to the next leaving behind some of the foundation knowledge. I work at breaking children apart, then building them back up,” Parris said.
Parris, who is not a teacher within the Ministry of Education, said that during his studies at the University of the West Indies, he got started in tuition when he inherited a class from his neighbour.
He said he thought it was a good way to help but was not planning to pursue it as a career. But when the time came for his own children’s examinations, he assisted them and they responded well to his teaching style and the job has become quite pleasurable for him.
He now says it is the most gratifying thing he has ever done and he can see himself teaching as long as he can.
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