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How much revision? and how do you make a 15yo revise?

(30 Posts)
velvetspoon Tue 18-Feb-14 12:57:44

DS1 is doing his GCSEs this year.

I have been asking to him to revise. He does a little (if I'm lucky maybe an hour a day, less if he has homework). His school have said he should be doing a couple of hours a day at most during the hols, he went to a revision class yesterday for 3 hours so thinks that gets him out of doing any more work today.

He wants to do well, or at least he did - at the start of the year he wanted to do medicine/dentistry. However after some disappointing mock results (albeit he didn't revise at all, following which he has been predicted B grades in most subjects) whilst he hasn't exactly given up, he seems to view all that as beyond his reach. I have tried to tell him that getting a C in exams where he did no work, doesn't necessarily mean his 'best' is a B. But I don't think it's going in. B's won't get him onto A level courses in his chosen subjects in the 6th forms he wants to go to, and he knows that.

Lack of revision has been his undoing before - before his 11plus, I bought all the books for him to practice, he refused to do them, and ended up failing by one mark. The kids he went to primary school with, who generally weren't as able as him, but who did pass, and who he is still friends with, are now on course to get A*s in every subject.

I just want him to try. I have asked, I've begged. I've offered bribes. Nothing seems to make much difference, he's doing a little work, but not even as much as the school have said (and I'm not sure that's enough even if he was doing it all).

I can't give up, but I'm feeling increasingly anxious about it all. I feel like I failed him by fucking up the 11plus, I'm worried history will repeat itself again. I just want him to have the opportunities I did, to go to uni etc.

lucy546 Tue 18-Feb-14 13:47:26

I think after school, 1 hour a day is a lot to ask. I know that my DD (also in Y11 at a grammar school) can barely do an hour every day with all her coursework, controlled assessments and ISAs - but on weekends and holidays she revises hard.

mummymeister Tue 18-Feb-14 16:44:51

if its an identified problem from previous times then the issue isn't revision but not understanding that if you want something you have to work for it. bit of work experience in a dull job to show him where he is heading if he doesn't get the marks he should? controversial I know but could work. its difficult - at 15 really he is in charge of his own destiny. what about a revision chart - loads of free ones online that work out how much you should be doing every day on each subject. you can then track what he is doing. but sorry fundamentally now its down to him. sometimes you have to just let them screw up I am afraid. have a plan B ready in case he does but try to get him into the right mind set beforehand if at all possible. have a word with teachers?

Beastofburden Tue 18-Feb-14 16:48:42

so, maybe go after quality not quantity. Can you get him to focus his efforts on the areas which will make the most difference? he may even get into it.

KatyMac Tue 18-Feb-14 16:52:35

I created a spreadsheet based on what DD hoped to do - but built in 40% I'll be happy if 60% gets done

I set it all up then walked away - I answer questions on recording and order but amount is up to her, if she wants to do more or less I shrug & walk away - it's her problem

Holidays it's 4.5 hrs a day so aiming to get 3 done
Termtime it's about 10.5 hrs a week
Over the 15 weeks she will do about 225 hours revision (I expect about 130 to be done)

She has time to cover each topic 3 or 4 times between now & the exams (but she is only doing 6 exams) plus spend some time on her Arts Award

But tbh - who knows.....

Fugacity Tue 18-Feb-14 16:53:02

You can't make him revise, only encourage him.

A good plan is to split revision days into 3 parts - morning, afternoon and evening, and then to revise during 2 of those sessions. It takes accounts teenage sleeping habits and the odd party.

The key thing to revision is to make a plan and stick to it.

Beastofburden Tue 18-Feb-14 16:55:21

I have to say I made mine do their own spreadsheet- if I did it, it just becomes something that is part of the parental infrastructure and can be safely ignored. If they do it, its part of the problem solving and has to be dealt with.

Coconutty Tue 18-Feb-14 17:01:04

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Beastofburden Tue 18-Feb-14 17:10:49

IME they revise best if they have confidence that it's going to work. So anything you can do to prove that effort will be rewarded is good- encourage him to tackle the bit with the highest reward for effort first.

Its also a good idea to revise with a friend cos they test one another and that sticks better. you appear with cake etc at regular intervals.

Wake him with coffee and supply a nice breakfast.

if you can afford it, send him on one of those easter revision courses somewhere shit hot.

velvetspoon Tue 18-Feb-14 17:28:41

I really don't have time to send him off for work experience now (his school didn't 'do' work experience in yr 10) his exams are only a few months away.

I've already spoken to his teachers - they were the ones who suggests a couple of hours a day (when not at school ie holidays/weekends). That doesn't seem enough if he needs to improve a couple of grades though?

I think he veers between thinking he can wing it and pass (because I never revised at school, and still passed - but DS and I are v different) or alternatively that it's already too late to do as well as he needs to so no point.

Obviously both result in him not doing the required amount of work, and in my anxiety levels over it going through the roof sad

KatyMac Tue 18-Feb-14 17:33:07

Beastofburden - I created the frame she input the sessions - it's working so far........

It's the shrugging that is working in my house along with 'whatever'

mummymeister Tue 18-Feb-14 20:03:27

velvetspoon. why did you tell him that you did no work and still passed? no wonder he thinks he can do the same. is this really the case? can you not "find" some old diaries from your teenage years which show that you did in fact do some revision. do you have parents or siblings that could back this up? my DH is super bright he didn't work that hard for his o levels but I would never tell our DC's this. I just tell them how thick I am and that everything is a struggle just to get a c. does he like the attention that he gets from you stressing about it? what about the "whatever" approach. make it clear you wont be supporting him if he doesn't get where he wants to. you have to vary what you are currently doing because this clearly isn't working.

Beastofburden Tue 18-Feb-14 20:14:41

Send him on a residential course for the Easter holldays where he will get some inspiration and tough talking.

karenaanna Tue 18-Feb-14 20:53:05

Another one who thinks you can't make them revise, you can only encourage them. With DS, I confiscated his playstation controller and let him have it back for an hour each evening, revision dependent blush

With DD doing A levels this year I have the opposite problem in that she's doing too much dancing, drama, revision and extra responsibilities school has forced onto her (in that order) but that's a problem for another thread.

velvetspoon Tue 18-Feb-14 21:06:01

I don't have any family unfortunately.

The revision thing (which is true, I find it very easy to learn/retain information, so was able to do well with little effort) wasn't said recently - I told him years ago, back when he was refusing to revise for the 11plus. But he still remembers it, as he also has a good memory.

He doesn't get extra attention really - all the worrying I'm doing about it is mostly on my own. I have had a couple of frank convos with him about knuckling down, but he's a bit 'manana, manana' about it all. I've always been quite laid back about his schoolwork, I don't get home from work til 7pm or later, so in the past I've trusted that he is studying/revising when he says he is, I've had to.

I took his xbox away after the mocks. All his revision stuff is online, so he has his laptop. But I suspect a lot of time is spent watching youtube etc rather than actually revising.

looplab Tue 18-Feb-14 22:17:31

Your story struck a chord with me - I still think the 11+ was a set-up!

All I do is share what we do. We have a 2 hour period at the same time every day where they have to an hour's proper work (the other hour is spent in general timewasting lol). To enforce this I wrote a computer program (!) that scuppers games and videos on the computer during that window, the pull of digital entertainment so huge.

wordfactory Wed 19-Feb-14 08:07:51

OP, the girls at DD's school who are sitting their GCSEs in May/June were told to have a good rest at half term.

They had their mocks after Christmas and now have their results.

This is their time to digest how things are going for them and work out a strategy for Summer.

This seems a very good idea to me, assuming pupils worked hard for their mocks.

willthecreamcometothetop Wed 19-Feb-14 11:45:26

Totally agree with mummymeister. if he understands that if you want something it requires work then your are halfway there. A gap year and working in various jobs helped my DS focus. He is just taking a little longer to get it right in his head first before he decides to work.

eatyourveg Wed 19-Feb-14 19:10:58

Perhaps he is put off by the thought of doing 3 hours a day of 11+ Bond style revision. There are lots of other ways for him to revise for gcse, workbooks are just one way, there are plenty of online sites with quizzes and podcasts. Would you have time to take an active role and test him on things? Talk only French for a day - no English allowed etc?

I have got the lining wallpaper out this week to write a revision timetable on - I will also write out the post it notes and stick them around the house in places where ds can't fail to see them eg by the loo roll in the bathroom, on the mirror in his room, opposite his seat at the dining table etc etc. I'm thinking of taping his Geography case studies and playing it regularly in the hope that he subconsciously takes some if it on board but at the end of the day it is all down to him.

Lead a horse to water ...

Beastofburden Thu 20-Feb-14 08:21:42

Digital entertainment is definitely a thing. We are all the same- who wouldn't rather take a sneaky look at MN than deal with that boring email at work? DS1 is through school exams now but even for Uni finals he would not buy a new computer game until after the exams were over- and when he still lived at home he would take his games stuff out of his bedroom until the exams were all over. Too much temptation.

TheBigBumTheory Thu 20-Feb-14 08:40:35

I would have a chat with him again about what his aims are for the future. Has he got a University in mind? There are good short films on YouTube about courses, accommodation, student life and so on. Once he can 'see' himself post 'A levels, doing a course he loves, or a job he is passionate about, the motivation and the studying will follow. Even visit a university town and have a look around the campus. If he can't motivate himself for GCSEs, A-levels will be even harder.

yourlittlesecret Thu 20-Feb-14 11:25:11

I'd say it depends on his ability and memory.
It's my second time with a DS doing GCSEs.
DS1 started revising after the Easter in Year 11. Too late IMO. He was however predicted all As and A*s. He pulled it off by the skin of his teeth and in retrospect wishes he had started earlier. (As a matter of interest he is doing A levels now and adopts a method of permanent ongoing revision).

DS2 is now in Y11. He is also very able but doesn't have the razor memory of his brother. He is away this week but has drawn up a lovely colour coded revision timetable starting next week grin.
We shall see.

KatyMac Thu 20-Feb-14 14:21:47

"has drawn up a lovely colour coded revision timetable starting next week"

This is DD - the timetable is complete & despite missing Monday almost completely she has caught up & stayed on track for the rest of the week being about 1.5 hrs ahead of her self right now.

I am astounded! shock

& all in 15 minute bursts with plenty of downtime for FB/texts etc

anchovies Thu 20-Feb-14 14:30:31

Have you ever heard of the pomodoro technique? I saw it work fantastically in our school for year 10 and 11. An hour of revision would be a massive amount if it was incredibly active revision (mindmaps/exam questions etc). The idea is that you work solidly for 20 or 25 minutes (absolutely no distractions, don't look at your phone, leave your seat etc) and then have a 5 minute break. Repeat 3 times then either stop or have a longer break. There are free apps available for it, more info here.

anchovies Thu 20-Feb-14 14:33:38

More info here as to why planned breaks works (and also why constant revision is essential to being able to recall information at a later date.)

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