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How to help my bored, demotivated son with A levels?(14 Posts)
This is my first ever post. I am at a loss as to how to help my 17yr old son, who started A levels this year. I've always known how to help before, but can't see how to do it now. He started A levels last Sept, and just has no motivation at all. This is of course effecting his performance in school. Teachers like him, he's not a problem, but he's heading for fails. He knows this. He says he just can't get himself motivated. Not that he does nothing, he really tries (this is what's heartbreaking). He'll sit there with his books all round him, surface working for ages, but because he's not engaged, nothing's really changing - a levels are about that deeper engagement. He says he's bored. He's happy in other areas of life (family, friends, girlfriend, sport). Have tried talking to him about focusing on goals - short term, longer term, the lot. he doesn't want to walk away - he knows that would be the wrong choice. Doesn't want to change subjects - says he's made the right choices and he'd be the same whatever. Lots of negative thinking going on, and I just don't know what to do to help. Any advice out there from people who have been there?
Been there with my eldest ds - he ended up failing the first year and I do blame myself for pushing the A levels rather than other avenues as he is a bright lad. He finished the first year with 3 U grades and an E. He left that college and started a BTEC National in Business at another college - this wasn't his ideal as he wanted to stay at the original college
the other issues about this are worthy of a thread itself! We did however lay the law down and say to him if he wants to stay in eduction we will only continue to fund this if he is doing something worthwhile.
I am glad to say that he is loving it and getting very high grades; he has also found what he is interested in for the future as the specification means they dip into a range of things.
Op - sorry for the lack of constructive advice other than maybe a change of course/qualification would suit him more. He needs to speak to someone at his school/college asap
I did a BTEC Business in 1983 and my friends who all did A levels left before getting them. People diss BTECs but they are very vocational and suit some people down to the ground. It was the making of me (I was bright but didn't have any idea of where I wanted to go until then). I did very well indeed on the course and found a passion.
My daughter is now doing a Diploma too and is loving every minute. A lot of her friends were put off by parents and encouraged to do A levels and I may well have been the same if I hadn't had the experience I had. Most of her A level friends are doing well but a few are finding the courses not motivating and are expecting poor results this sitting.
If he really is failing that badly, take a look at the other options on offer to him and speak to the colleges about the destinations of students after those courses he thinks would suit him - see what they can lead too.
Another vote for BTEC at college.
I think some pupils just can't be bothered to leave school, they think A Levels will just be a continuation of GCSEs and that's far from true.
It sounds like he maybe doesn't connect the work with anything dynamic or engaging in the outside world. No point in learning anything if it feels as though it is just relevant within the pages of a book or website.
Can you give him a break - maybe even book a few days off school near half term, and go off and visit places that are relevant to the subjects he's doing? Are there any working or activity holidays or volunteer projects that might feed into his subjects? Or work placements?
Would he like to visit unis to discover what hard work now could lead to (avoid this if uni visits would feel like locking him further into a treadmill.)
Is he healthy? Maybe he's shattered or mildly depressed. Can happen with hormones bouncing around all over the place. If he's had a growth spurt or post viral, he may be anemic. Has anything happened, like a split with a girl or a close friend, that might have made him feel it's all pointless? And sorry to ask the obvious, but he's not taking drugs is he? That could kill motivation.
And finally, does he know where and how to start? If he's doing humanities subjects and isn't rock solid on essay structuring, (or whatever the equivalent is in sciences - not my area) that could cause him to waste hours. Disillusion with learning isoften pretty closely linked with confusion or fear about how to approach the work, IMO.
Could be, as others said above, that he just doesn't want to do A levels right now.
Take a look at the book Drive by Janine Caffrey about motivating tweens and teens. It's basic but it's full of good advice.
Does he know what he wants to do after A level? However much you like the subject it can be difficult to motivate yourself if there is nothing to aim for.
It's a shame when you know they're capable of more but not putting the effort in. Did you have to push him a lot last year? you can jolly him along to a certain extent but he needs that self motivation to get on. It is horrible when they are unhappy. Sometimes teens feel they are letting us down too. Does he have older siblings he feels he has to live up to?
The thing is at his age there's always a Plan B. I'd start by encouraging him to look at college courses.
Or what about Plan C, try thinking of his strengths and aptitudes. If he no longer wants to study now, what work could he look for? Not everyone finishes school and goes on to further education.
I know it sounds cheesy but some good old brain-storming, the two of you getting a big piece of paper and just putting down ideas and noting his qualities and attributes can help.
Walking away aka giving up is negative, but finding a good alternative, that leads somewhere, is far more positive.
hello summer 1964
i too have just joined the site today to seek advice with my soon to be 17 year old and as levels.
we are all having a torrid time...
he's a bright lad 11 gcse but is just finding the work too hard he dropped physics in first tem but is stuggling on with maths history and ict
he loves ict and has been accepted for a BTEC in September
thats brill and we are so happy for him but what do we do now???
if he leaves school he has nothing
going to school is making him physically ill-i had to collect him again today headaches and nausea
he is seeing a councellor through our Gp and has a GP app on Thurs and a school review on Friday
He is so desperately unhappy. hes become quiet withdrawn and not the son we know and love.....
if he stays at school he'll be unhappy if he leaves school and is not occupied it will feed the sense of failure issue he already has
we love him so much and its so hard to know what path we should be encouraging him down at this moment
if he leaves school is that seen as a failure in the eyes of colleage/future employees???
neither my husband or i have a levels
any advice would be welcomed......
Firstly I'd get him checked over, make sure there's nothing physically wrong.
Does he cope socially, has he lost friends who left school or moved elsewhere?
11 GCSEs sounds great but yes the step up to AS levels is a jump. He won't be the only one regretting subject choices I am sure. Is there anyone who could tutor him out of school to get him up to speed?
I'm not an expert but staying on at school and feeling ever more dejected then getting poor exam results is surely no worse than taking the decision to leave and pursue something else.
Getting accepted onto the BTEC was good, hope he is motivated to keep up attendance.
Before September, there must be somebody to ask about this, what about voluntary work? The key thing is not to give the impression he is sitting around doing nothing.
hes ok phyically mentally is another matter!
we have found him a maths tutor and he is having extra help at school
he's real excited about the BTEC as he currently enjoys the ICT as level and is getting good marks-c currently
we have managed to get him 3 weeks work experience in the IT sector which will happen June/ July in 2 different companies
we'll wait till we see GP & counsellor tomorrow before we help him make any desicions...deferring wont be an option for him as he just won't go back to school.
and if he does leave he deffo wont be sitting on his bum!
if he leaves school is that seen as a failure in the eyes of colleage/future employees?
It depends what he does, sitting at home watching TV not great but there are loads of places wanting volunteers and something non IT/computing wold only add to his CV.
Things he could do for 6 months (if he doesn't get a job)
Listening to children read in primary school,
Handing out cups of tea in a care home.
Cleaning animal pee at a shelter / rehoming centre.
Teaching ESOL - actually you might need to be 18 but I did this as a volunteer for a couple of years.
Puppy walking for guide dogs / other assistance dogs.
Our local hospice is always looking for people to make beds.
Summer 1964 I could have written this thread myself, infact I came on to start a thread but saw yours instead. It is difficult - gone from mad keen A*/A at GCSE to struggling like mad. Trying to get motivated to do the work, but is thinking of dropping 1 of the AS courses to make it a bit more bearable. Just don't know what to suggest as he has mentioned dropping out totally - I am hoping dropping to 3 will help but if that doesn't work out not sure what to suggest. There are no jobs, no apprenticeships and I am just hoping that he can try to get back on the right track. Does anyone know if just doing 3 AS / A2 is a problem if he decides to go to Uni ? Anyone managed to get their 17 yo motivated again ?
My DS's girlfriend got him motivated. She was unimpressed by his attitude. We were lucky.
My son is also in lower 6th form and although he seems happy he doesn't like putting the work in. He was told by teachers at the beginning of 6th form that if he was to do A levels he would have to put the work in. Although he has spells of working hard, he also has long spells of doing nothing!!! I think the jump from Gcse's to A levels is massive and I think this can be quite daunting. I think some people cope with it better than others. Like your son, mine is also quite bright, and I feel he's throwing his chances away. I also feel my son is very difficult to talk to - I think it's an age thing. Good luck!
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