Would appreciate any tips - not sure anything can help, but struggling to get through this. My son will not revise for his GCSE's, he has just achieved C (maths, needs a B to do economics at A-level) or lower in his recent retakes. He is Yr11, but took his GCSEs early (was a very good student up until he discovered girls in Yr10). I imagine he is very worried and scared too, but is rude and shouts at me, I can usually talk to him, but I'm not getting anywhere today. I'm trying to plan a revision timetable and to help him do some work today. He's only just got out of bed, and won't do anything. I can't seem to do or say anything that will help, he says nothing will motivate him to work, he doesn't understand why his friends want to work, he just isn't bothered (although I do suspect he is scared underneath - he must be??) He feels he will always fail, no matter how hard he tries, and is sick of the teachers, nagging him about it. I am at the point where I am not sleeping, and I feel so helpless, that it's better for me to just give up and pick up the pieces in the Summer - I doubt he will get the grades he needs to do get his 6th form place. He is a gorgeous, funny, happy boy, with loads of friends and hobbies. All who know him, love him. How do parents survive this without going insane?? Any help would be very much appreciated.
Right the first thing to do is to calm down - the reality of not doing as well as he can in the summer is not worth this amount of stress. If he can't do an A level he wants to then he'll just have to change his plans a bit and it isn't the end of the world.
Secondly isn't he still working on controlled assessment and homework? This weekend DS has practice questions to do for English Lit and RS and preparation for a French writing task. He certainly wouldn't thank me for going on about revision.
If he has just got results then he needs time for them to sink in. In my house nobody starts revising for GCSE/AS etc before the Easter holidays any earlier and they'll be fed up and sick of it by the time exams come along. You'd be better off leaving me for now and getting an agreement to study over Easter (with any carrot he needs to get him going) and taking a little step back for your own sake.
Thanks for your reply. I do see there's no point tackling this with him today - or at all!!? My son seems to do well in course work and the assessments - has problems with revision. I am trying to step back, he is talking now and things are calm. We have agreed a revision timetable starting from the Easter holidays, so I'll leave it at that. (is that really enough time?). We don't have French or RS, English is his strongest subject, so I assume that will be OK. I hope he gets what he needs for his 6th form place, but I'm not sure that's really what he wants to do - so not getting the grades and having time to think may be better in the long run (it worked for me!!). Again, I really appreciate your reply - thanks!
Easter is plenty of time (especially as its early this year!) and don't forget he'll be doing lots of revision in school as well.
We do an Easter challenge were we agree a certain number of hours of revision and if they manage it they get a reward, its not something major but something they've wanted for awhile, for DD2 it was some trainers she'd had her eye on. Getting a good start helps them feel more confident about the subjects they are taking and then they are more likely to carry on revising.
webwiz is right about the timing. DS1 did GCSE last year and I was a bit worried that he hadn't started revision before Easter. What actually happened was that the whole summer term at school was one long revision class. Every subject teacher laid on extra revision classes at lunchtime or after school. They were revised up to their little ears! DS did much less at home than I felt comfortable with but swore he was on top of it and it turned out he was right. Perhaps you could find out what his school are planning if they haven't let you know and it might put your mind at rest.
He is 16 and if he can't motivate himself by now he will learn the hard way. I had 2 ds go through this. One self motivated, the other not. It is not your responsibility now, and not worth getting worked up about.
I think you have to keep out of it although I know that is hard really, really hard It is up to them to work and it is best not to get into a fight with them about it. Even if he does relatively poorly at GCSE's it doesn't mean he won't pull it together for A'levels. He could really do with at least a B in his maths though Surely he can he retake? I give the illusion of being a cool Mum but I would love to scream at my kids to make them work harder. It can get worse at A'level as a lot of kids underestimate how hard they have to work. It is better they 'fail' (not too badly obviously) now rather than later in life. Despite how it might seem on MN you really dont need 13 A* GCSE's to go to an excellent University.
If anyone would like free help with GCSE English for their child to use to help with this year's exams, there are lots of resources for you to use on this site. It is totally free, and totally ad-free, written by an experienced, outstanding Oxford graduate secondary school teacher, purely because she likes helping parents:
If your child is fighting you, I can only sympathise. Try to relax. I'm not sure you can force him. Get him the CGP books: revision guides and workbooks - and pray that he uses them. Get him coloured pens and big paper so he can make mindmaps and diagrams.
Expect him to revise but don't stand over him. Hire him a tutor if you can to rebuild his confidence, and fill in gaps where he hasn't been paying attention. (I don't mean me - I'm 100% booked out for the next twelve months. I mean any tutor. A good tutor can help a lot.). x
My last post was deleted due to an etiquette blunder (I think someone thought I wanted to be hired). I'm not touting for business. Sorry if anyone got upset, as it was purely unintentional.
Sorry for not replying, my first post and I thought I would get email alerts. Thank you very much for this, in the meantime I have been catching up with what the school is providing, getting a clearer picture from the teachers. They have been very helpful, reassuring where necessary, and letting me know the subjects he really does need more work on. It's not a totally bleak picture, and there are classes during the holidays that he will attend (happily, he wants to improve). I have found a great, local tutor for maths. He gives great pep talks too, and will help over the phone or by email for specific questions. I agree that he should be motivated to do this himself, and I just cannot do it for him ( just provide all resources, food, calm home etc) and let him get on with it....and pick up the pieces if necessary later on. I think he is getting a sense of urgency now, I live in hope!! This site as helped calm my nerves and put things into perspective, ave read a few of the threads and will keep coming back. Thanks again for taking the time to reply x
I agree with others that you cannot motivate them at this age, much, but I do think sometimes because they all grow up, get organised, start paying attention at different points, they can sometimes benefit from being helped to revise, calmly.
I'd suggest trying to back off emotionally but offer a little bite sized chunk of help. Say pick a little science topic, set him up to do a mind map or whatever he likes to revise, maybe then get him to explain it to you, find him some questions to try on his own, then go through them with him. So he has done the actual work but you have given him the structure to do it effectively. Then the next topic, just maybe help him sort out some questions to practise on.
Approached like tat, he gets to brush up the basic techniques of revision, and also sees that it is manageable - he has done a topic, and practised exam questions. The next time, he brushes up his mind map and does better on the questions.
I think it can seem completely overwhelming otherwise, and going back a little to get the techniques right means they can then fly on their own in the future.
ds1 will revise, when supported by us. So one of us will sit and ask him some questions from a textbook, or exercise book. Or we will sit with him (and surf the internet) whilst he does a practice paper or some online activity; then I'll mark it when he's finished.
I know it's not ideal and he should be more independently motivated. But if our input helps him, I'm happy to give the time.
I think my expections of how much he can/will revise on his own are too high. He will (and clearly much prefers it) if I sit with him and go through a problem/paper or help learn words for Spanish etc. He is always happy to attend extra sessions given by teachers - so he's happy to work if there's someone there to interact with/help. I do think he should be aiming to work more independently - but now's not the time to push that issue and I'm happy to help. He gets very demoralised after results have come out, and he's been working but can't see any improvement (he has a lot to catch up with) so I prefer to spend time with him, rather than him sit in his room alone. Thanks again!
I think the whole idea of revision can be a bit overwhelming - DS has been given his GCSE timetable this week and he's got 18 exams of varying lengths over a 6 week period. I know he has been doing stuff at school about how to plan your revision and working out what you already know but he's still a bit about how to get going.
DD1 and DD2 did ask for help with things when they took GCSEs - testing on stuff, marking past papers or just being company but they were certainly much more independent by the time they took their A levels. When they are only taking exams for a few subjects its much easier to organise yourself.
Thanks very much for all your comments - they have been very helpful. DS1 is getting down to some work and attending his schools holiday revision classes. He sets himself tasks for each day - but won't make out a timetable. This is fine, although I pushed for him to do some work on the subjects he hates first, helped him with it and he seems relieved that he's made a start there. His teachers have asked for pieces of work and test questions to be handed in - he seems to appreciate a bit of help and a push to get these done. It is still tortuous, but he is working and I'm happy this is constructive and he's not sitting there overwhelmed by it all as I think he was a few weeks ago (hence the anger and general denial - small chunks and help with the subjects he'd rather ignore has helped I think) ....we'll carry on....thanks again!