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Back to school in September means test time for students who are completing their 11+ exams. These exams cover two important subjects (Maths and English) and a skillset known as Verbal and Non-Verbal Reasoning. The latter cover critical skills students must cultivate as a foundation for continued learning. And while reasoning may not be an official subject in the school curriculum, it is by no means a lesser discipline than subjects like Maths or English.

So, what is Verbal and Non-Verbal Reasoning?

Verbal and Non-Verbal reasoning are more a demonstration of a student’s cognitive skills than of his/her acquired knowledge. Testing a child’s reasoning skills helps to assess students’ ability to think critically, measure their aptitude, assess their capacity for information processing and problem solving. In short, it encompasses your ability to learn and process information in words and images.

  • Verbal Reasoning measures students’ ability to use language to identify and solve problems. It goes beyond formal literacy by testing wider reasoning and cognitive abilities. For example, children may be asked to identify words within words, solve basic word puzzles or identify patterns in words and sentences during tests. Other examples include finding one letter to complete two words, or spotting the odd word in a group or naming synonyms and antonyms of particular words.
  • Non-Verbal Reasoning deals with images and how we learn by interacting with them. Interestingly, people largely think in images, thus the ability to respond to and interact with visual imagery can be a good test for abstract thinking, creativity and complex problem solving abilities amongst others. Examples of tests students must complete include identifying odd shapes in groups, identifying inverted images, creating shapes with material, finding identical shapes in groups or identifying sequences in image arrangements.

Why reasoning skills are so important

By testing these basic learning processes in young students, teachers get a good understanding of each child’s capacity and preference for learning and map teaching strategies based on their reasoning tests. Moreover, Verbal and Non-Verbal Reasoning underpin students’ ability to grasp the concepts taught in important subjects such as Maths, Science, Design and Technology.

Interestingly, acquiring the skills for Verbal and Non-Verbal Reasoning is not as simple as sitting through a class. These skills are learned and improved only through practice and close attention from both teachers and parents. Parents can help their child by introducing word-based board games such as ‘Scrabble’ or ‘Boggle’ into their child’s game time and use it to measure their understanding and usage of words. 

Encouraging your child to play word games will make it both fun and educational. And the earlier the better. If your child does have a penchant for video or online gaming, think of introducing a gamified way to introduce reasoning skills practice into their online time.

For Non-Verbal Reasoning, get your child interested in imagery, drawing, painting, culture, the museum and anything that he or she may gravitate towards. Visual learning can mean one of many things but it’s important for you to make the time to understand how your child prefers to learn. It’s a skill that has to be nurtured to encourage young minds to learn and grow naturally and in a supportive way.

Talk to Boost Education about tuition for your child

The Boost Education approach to supportive after school learning is designed to help your child develop his or her reasoning skills from an early age. Our tutors are experienced in helping children absorb and process new concepts, ideas and information in a way that encourages independent thinking and self-expression.

This allows us to pick up on any issues in your child’s learning and address them with a personalised approach that eliminates pressure to keep up with classmates or learn by rote without having a greater understanding of learning material. We invite you to come and visit us at one of our centres and discuss your child’s education with us. Our tutors are standing by to welcome you and show you how our approach to education is helping children across the UK to achieve their best.

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