I often ask me how soon they should be preparing their child for grammar school entrance and what they should be doing. There's no easy answer to this one because every child is different, of course.
It seems to be increasingly common for parents to start preparing their child earlier and earlier, in some cases as soon as year 3. I have also heard that in some areas it is so difficult to get an eleven plus tutor that there is a waiting list of two years! Ultimately every parent wants the best for their child, but there is no guarantee that a lot of tutoring will necessarily lead to a pass in the exam and the first choice of grammar school.
At the other end of the scale there are some parents that do not believe in tutoring or preparation and send their child into the exam with no idea of what to expect. This seems to be a risky strategy to me - would we as adults go into any kind of test without having any idea on what kind of questions to expect?
Some children love doing tests and for them you could start doing word, pattern and maths games and quizzes from an early age, certainly year 4. However, personally I don't believe there is a need to do too much formal testing with practice questions until the start of year 5 and there is a danger that your child will get bored with the questions and refuse to do any more.
So the short anwer is you can prepare when your child seems to be ready but year 5 is when you can do most of the serious preparation.
Cotswold Educations Parents' Support events are a great way to learn more about the test and ask any questions you may have. You can find out more about the meeting on www.cotswoldeducation.co.uk