Feeling out of touch and need to step up. Suggestions?

(32 Posts)
FloraFoxley Sat 24-Aug-13 15:53:12

Hi all

Would appreciate your thoughts on my ramblings.

I have a soon to be 15 year old daughter about to start year 10. She has been predicted A grades in all her 12 GCSE subjects and because she is so 'sensible' I've mainly let her get on with this. The most I ever do is ask if she had any homework and I attend a parent's evening once a year.

Anyway, she sat her mocks just before the summer break - and I was distinctly unimpressed with the grades coming back. Yes, the odd A and B but mainly Cs and Ds. I then received a letter from the school head of year offering support and extra tuition in 3 subjects that they feel she needs extra support in. I can't yet discuss this with the school of course until next month.

I've realised that DD had been lazy and assumed that she will just pass these exams with no hard work required. She is bright and intelligent but no child prodigy and its dawned on me that we will be in for a shock in 2015 if she doesn't pull her finger out now.

So ... What should I do? Nag more? Pay for external tuition? Insist on seeing her work? I've been rather lazy and just left her to it so its probably time for me to actually 'do' something before its too late.

She has said to me that she doesn't know how to revise. Well, neither do I! Are there revision guides or something?

Any tips appreciated - thank you

adeucalione Sat 24-Aug-13 17:18:41

In our house revision takes place in a quiet yet public place (usually the kitchen table) because being cloistered in a bedroom leads them into temptationgrin

They also switch off their phones and give them to me for the duration.

Depending on the test, they calculate how many hours will be required and draw up a plan of action (an hour each night or whatever). Revision usually involved reading their notes, reading their text books, plus research online (public PC!) and practice papers if necessary.

It's good that you are addressing this now, and that your DS is onboard; I always think that the Y9 exams are intended to prompt exactly this sort of action! I would expect any decent school to begin looking at revision techniques now, if not already done, so hopefully the message will be reinforced effectively too.

adeucalione Sat 24-Aug-13 17:19:34

Sorry - DD

monikar Sat 24-Aug-13 17:28:10

CGP do some excellent revision guides which you can order from Amazon. They have all the books - I found the selection in WHSmith and Waterstones rather lacking. Be careful with revision guides though - you need to make sure you buy the ones which are relevant to the particular exam boards your DD will be doing. Look at these together and work out how DD can use these alongside her textbooks. My DD often found the explanations much simpler than the ones in the textbooks from school.

I think a good way to start is to take an interest in the content of her subjects. You can use the excuse of the GCSE years for this. So ask her which books she is doing for English Literature (then buy the revision guides for those books) and ask what topics they are starting on for science and so on.

I agree with doing the work in a public area of the house - in their rooms there is too much temptation from fb, twitter etc..

One of the main keys to success is to keep up with the work. They get given a lot at a time and it is best to make a start on work as soon as it comes in. You could help DD draw up a timetable for work.

Good luck.

FloraFoxley Sat 24-Aug-13 17:43:02

Some really helpful suggestions here.

Yes, I'll get her doing her homework at the kitchen table and whip her mobile and iPod from her for the duration. I think I'll ask the school if they have revision guides ( they try and flog you everything else so they're bound to! ) and then ill ensure that she starts from September with an hour a night.

I've got a real feeling that this could be the difference between A and B grades and a clutch of D grades and she has admitted to me that she hasn't worked as hard as she could have.

Flexes whip ....

Ett36 Sat 24-Aug-13 18:05:06

I'm a secondary teacher and if she has C and D s in yr 9 that's OK. she has two more years yet to study and mature and that's what an A grade candidate needs, maturity particularly. so its partly time and working surely but steadily over the two yrs.
revision guides are good. flashcards work well to revise key things and acronyms for key parts of a subject. as courses progress teachers should do this anyway.
I would also say time out and a non academic subject/hobby to enjoy rather than everything be about grades. hope that helps. smile

lotsofdirections Sat 24-Aug-13 18:21:14

I agree with Ett36. Also effective revision depends on the individual, some like guides, some mindmap and some will cover the house with post-its. Your DD will soon come to realise what works for her and needs to focus on that method so a silent room wont work for all.

ffsx2 Sat 24-Aug-13 18:32:37

That's why they have mocks, as wake-up calls. Encourage & support, methinks.

basildonbond Sat 24-Aug-13 21:01:41

Hmm I did the opposite with ds - towards the end of Y10 it became obvious that he was getting increasingly lazy and distracted (by hormones, girls, anything and everything). We started by being very strict and insisting that homework was done etc however that approach backfired - we had endless arguments and the work still wasn't getting done

By the October half term in Y11 things had reached a low point and our relationship was suffering so we had a rethink .. We realised that no matter how much we cajoled him the motivation had to come from him. We told him we were deliberately stepping back and letting him get on with it. We would be there to provide supports and help if he wanted it but if not he was on his own

Cue another term and a half of messing about, fairly dismal mock results and predictions of decidedly mediocre results for this summer (linear exams so no modules in the bag)

Anyway he finally decided to pull his finger out after Easter and proceeded to work his socks off and came out with a surprisingly good set of results (A*s, As and a couple of high Bs) - not as good as he could have got if he'd worked consistently throughout Y10 and 11 but perfectly respectable. But at this mid-teenage point the motivation to work and want to do well has to come from them

We found out at the end of Y7 that although DS1 is a good student, he had no idea how to revise.

These are some of the things I have taught him to do:

Find out what topics are on the syllabus.

Find appropriate revision materials for each topic (CGP books etc).

Work out how many topics he needs to cover within how much time.

Ask for help about topics he doesn't understand.

Make his own revision materials (mindmaps, flashcards etc).

Find past papers and practice questions online so he can test himself.

morethanpotatoprints Sat 24-Aug-13 22:26:49

I think it is important for you to teach your dc how to study rather than expecting them to know. You can push as much as you like but if they don't want to do it they won't.
There will be lies, we didn't get homework today. We have a supply teacher who didn't give us any.
You have to be able to trust them to get on with it, after you have shown them what's expected.
I would also advise not to trust the school to teach them how to study, revise etc. Whilst some do, others don't.

vj32 Sun 25-Aug-13 11:30:49

What do the Cs and Ds mean? What exams did she take?

If she has started GCSE courses already, and was marked with a GCSE mark scheme, then Cs and Ds are good in year 9 as she has two more years to improve and will get better.

If they are effort grades or just an exam graded against the rest of her year group, then obviously not so good. Probably, they are actually a mixture as it would be unusual for her to start all her GCSE courses in year 9.

The grades don't mean anything unless you know the context.

Lots of good tips about revision here but I think it sounds as though your DD has coasted through all her school work and just improving revision won't be enough.
Does her school give marks for effort and attitude as well as attainment?
My approach would be a serious "we are disappointed in you " talk, followed by a plan agreed with her of how she will work harder. I would also offer rewards for improvements, again agreed in advance.

FloraFoxley Sun 25-Aug-13 23:51:28

Thanks all - very helpful

Secret - her attendance , attitude and attainment are immaculate. I'm always told that she is an excellent student who contributes fully in class and she has never been in any trouble or anything like that .

I think she took 'proper' past GCSE papers - it wasn't in comparison to her peers or anything. A C or D is probably expected. However - I also received the letter from the school suggesting extra help so that she achieves her predicted 12 A grades.

Ill definitely explore the revision thing and chat more with her about that

FloraFoxley Sun 25-Aug-13 23:52:24

Yes she got marked for effort and attitude - all 1s.

Hmm. I'm not sure about that !

basildonbond Mon 26-Aug-13 07:07:36

In that case I really don't think you e got anything to worry about! To get any As at all in GCSE papers at this stage she's doing very well indeed. However she's doing an enormous number of subjects (12 is completely unnecessary - 10 would be quite enough) and it may be that the school offers help to every pupil in their weaker subjects - what is tha attainment like generally at the school?

Can you see if it's possible to drop a subject so she isn't overloaded ? Other than that check with the school that they cover study skills and revision techniques and relax! If she's bright and works reasonably hard the As and A*s will come. If she's bright but lazy or not so bright but works hard she'll still get good results

FloraFoxley Mon 26-Aug-13 09:49:23

Is 12 not the norm then? Interesting. When I did them,we generally did 7 or 8 - and that felt like enough!

racingheart Mon 26-Aug-13 13:53:10

Not knowing how to revise is a really common problem. It's hard to know where to start.

The first thing she needs to do is to find out from her teachers exactly what % of the marks are given for which paper/assessment, and which subjects are covered in each of those papers/assessments. That way she knows how many topics she needs to revise for each subject.

With essays, the teachers will probably have guidelines on what is needed, but at very least she needs to know that if an essay has 20 marks, then she needs to make 20 good points in it. That's four points per five paragraph essay.

So if she has, say a history topic, she needs to be able to expand the topic into five distinct areas and say four things about each area.

Practising timed essay writing can build confidence.

In languages, watching films and children's tv programmes, even with the UK subtitles on can help develop vocab and idioms.

Agree with others that sitting down at kitchen table with phone/ipod off is a good start. Buy some revision guides and check she knows how to use them (look up in index or glossary the subject you're struggling with then turn to that page and read that section along with any linked sections it refers to. If it still doesn't make sense, tell the teacher sooner rather than later.)

Even if you don't know her subjects, ask her to talk about them to you. If she can explain something clearly so that you can understand it, even though you know nothing about it, then she knows her stuff.

JohnnyUtah Tue 27-Aug-13 08:54:28

I think the most common mistake in revision is thinking that if you read it and then write it down then that means it has gone into your head. Bullet points, flash cards, summaries and spider diagrams are her friend. She will know what they are, she just needs to out them into a coherent plan for herself. Also past questions and explaining science topics orally to you can be very helpful.

tiredaftertwo Tue 27-Aug-13 10:07:22

Why are they using past GCSE papers on year 9s who will only have covered part of the syllabus? Do you mean they assembled past questions on those topics they have covered? If so, then Cs and Ds not great - if they were genuinely presented with material they have not been taught then much better.

Either way, why is she doing 12? GCSEs are a dull slog, with lots of different bits. Now there are no early modules, that could be a vast number of papers in year 11.

The only benefit of doing 12 is to earn more points for the school - no career or university needs them and many will look for quality in core academic subjects, not quantity. I would challenge this.

If she is predicted 12 A grades, she could presumably get some some A* if she did 9 or 10, enjoy her studies more, and have time to go into a bit more depth or do some other stuff.

FloraFoxley Tue 27-Aug-13 14:15:12

They used previous GCSE papers and no, theyd not covered all the questions.

She actually got one A, 4 Bs, 4 Cs , 2 Ds and an E in French.

Tired - do you know if you can drop core subjects? If so, I will request that French is dropped. I ran this by DD and she laughed and said there is no way she will be able to drop any subjects. For instance, she is doing double English and triple science - they obviously must remain! Some of her peers are doing 9 or 10 GCSES, some are doing 12...they gave more to the students they consider able to take on more.

All the revision tips are helpful - thanks

FloraFoxley Tue 27-Aug-13 14:17:05

She is dead set on becoming a lawyer so not sure how relevant 12 GCSEs is going to be

LoopyLoopyLoopy Tue 27-Aug-13 14:18:27

Nowhere near all of the content will have been covered, especially in MFL! Y10 students who take a full languages paper usually come out 3 grades below predicted, so year 9 taking a past paper is a farce. Seriously.

tiredaftertwo Tue 27-Aug-13 17:52:03

Loopy is right, and I am not sure she could have got those grades if they were actual papers (rather than actual questions).

I don't think taking 12 is relevant for anything. If she wants to be a lawyer, I think she should aim for very high marks in 8-10 traditional subjects, and they should cover a broad base of academic subjects (eg 2 Eng, Maths, 3 Science, French, a humanity or two, a creative or practical). What are her other subjects?

Why does she want to drop French - she shouldn't on the basis of getting an E ona paper where she has only covered a fraction of the work.

Ett36 Tue 27-Aug-13 17:56:24

def keep language for any professional job. so important.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now