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How can I get him to care about his schoolwork/revision

(31 Posts)
IsabellaofFrance Sat 02-Jan-16 19:18:32

DS1 is driving me to drink.

He has a German written exam and 4 mock exams starting next week.

The German written exam is a gift - 15% of his GCSE mark for what is basically a memory exercise. I have, through blood, sweat and tears managed to get him to almost learn it by heart. However he has done little if any revision for the other subjects, and despite my best efforts seems not bothered by the whole thing.

He is a capable student who can excel and get A's and B's in subjects, but he has the mindset that a C is good enough so why should he try harder.

He wants to go to Uni to study History, and has ambitions to be a teacher. I have tried explaining that he has the wrong attitude to be a good teacher, but even that hasnt changed his thinking.


hadtoregregister Sat 02-Jan-16 19:20:11

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Ragwort Sat 02-Jan-16 19:22:03

No idea - my DS is exactly the same (also talks about becoming a teacher!).

Hopefully someone might have some ideas ............. we did go in to school and discuss this with our DS's tutor which I think embarrassed him, but I still don't know if that's enough to make him put a bit of effort into his school work.

IsabellaofFrance Sat 02-Jan-16 19:33:55

Yes - I have contacted DS's HOY after becoming frustrated with him, and that has helped bring his teachers on board.

DS will be doing 2 GCSE's this year - German and RE. He is only in year 10 so I am hoping it isnt too late.

My Mum suggests I 'let him get on with it' which is what she did with me, but I was very different to DS, I worked hard and wanted to get good marks. He just doesn't care.

noblegiraffe Sat 02-Jan-16 19:42:00

What is a C good enough for? It probably won't be good enough to take A-level history or the other subjects he will need to get a decent university offer. You could start that way by looking at entry requirements for college and good unis, make him see the sense of doing well.

The other options are bribery for good grades (usually frowned upon but can be effective as a short term incentive) or punishment for slacking (withdrawal of Xbox etc if results/reports are poor). Contacting teachers and asking to be informed if DS is not putting the work in is a good idea.

You know your DS and what's likely to work.

IsabellaofFrance Sat 02-Jan-16 19:49:07

He will do well in History and Maths, those are his favourite subjects and he works very hard in them.

noblegiraffe Sat 02-Jan-16 19:54:04

If he is good at maths and he wants to be a teacher then he should seriously consider pursuing a mathematical route rather than history. He will have money thrown at him to train as a teacher and no problem getting a job ever.

TeenAndTween Sat 02-Jan-16 21:01:59

Have you looked at requirements for 6th form and A levels?

Some places require a minimum of B for any subject being done for A level, and Maths generally requires an A. Some school 6th forms have minimum requirements of certain number of As/Bs to continue.

Is he also aware that 6th forms look at average GCSE profile when deciding whether you can do 3 or 4 subjects for first year of A levels.

Is he aware that universities may to some extent look at his GCSE results when making offers, especially as many subjects will no longer have AS results to look at.
Also 5As and 5Bs will look miles better on any CV than 5Bs and 5Cs.

Ultimately, a C isn't good enough if he is capable of As/Bs. Also, if he won't work for GCSEs, the step up for A level in terms of work is going to be massive.

otoh, he is only y10 so you do have time.

Ragwort Sat 02-Jan-16 21:26:54

You know your DS and what's likely to work.

The trouble is some of us don't know what is likely to work grin.

Isabella - my DM has also said 'just leave him to it' but I am well aware that it is much more important these days to get decent grades than when I was young, jobs are so hard to get even with qualifications.

Artandco Sat 02-Jan-16 21:34:04

I think they need babying. Honestly but it works!
I would say I know it's not the most exciting etc and give sympathy first. Then work alongside him so he's stuck revising for a while.
So sit him down and physically draw up a time table with him. Give him hot chocolate with marshmallows so he can't moan about it too much and will stay sitting down whilst you help with time table

Then when he needs to study as much as possible sit with him. So him at one end of table with more hot chocolate and food and studying, you at other end reading/ working/ on own laptop. Then he doesn't feel so much like he is being forced to sit alone and work, and can ask you things if needed. Do in hour intervals.

Bribe him in between with things he likes to do if possible. Ie if he shows he is studying each day as planned and is actually learning, you will pay for tickets somewhere/ allow a sleepover bbq party in garden in summer/ he can get a new xyz. It's bribery, sure, but helps!

GasLIghtShining Sat 02-Jan-16 23:08:28

I would agree with TeenandTween. He could end up struggling to be accepted anyehere for A levels

I am not sure but aren't teachers now expected to have achieved a B in Maths and English GCSE?

DancingDuck Sat 02-Jan-16 23:21:42

He needs a reason beyond the upcoming exams that gives him drive and determination. Can you show him round a good sixth form college that has selective entry? Or look at some unis he'd love to attend and check out what GCSE grades they'd expect? Likewise teacher training.

Can you discuss his plans to be a teacher with him by asking who his most inspirational teachers are and whether or not they seem to care if he gets a C or more. Does he think good teachers help students aspire to try their best or let them get away with as little as possible? Is he being a good teacher to himself by coasting?

Ask him how he'll feel if he gets a C, which anyone can get. It's average. How would he feel if he got a B? Or an A? How would he celebrate or reward himself if he got As?

Ask what uni options he thinks straight A students have versus C graders. What does he guess straight A students earn after 5 years. What about C grade students? And most important - make sure he knows that the difference between most A graders and C graders is hard work. Very few DC are naturally so bright that they cruise A grades. Their attitude to hard work is what helps them succeed in other areas too.

Maybe those are two many questions. But I slip stuff like this into conversations very casually fairly often. DS2 is naturally very lazy with low aspirations but has recently quoted some of the stuff back at me that I've been casually slipping into conversation for years. he's finally starting to have quite high aspirations and recognising that he does better when he works hard.

Wolfiefan Sat 02-Jan-16 23:26:03

I too would check entry levels for A level courses. I wouldn't want a student to start my subject with less than a B.
What's he doing instead? Turn off wifi? Hobbies after work done? How supportive are teachers being? I'd email you weekly if you asked.

Bluebird79 Sat 02-Jan-16 23:34:09

I think with parenting there comes a point when you have to let them fail. It's going to be a lesson to learn and might alter his attitude. I speak from experience with my own sons and, honestly, myself. When you always have mummy in the background trying to fix it all for you - where's the motivation to get cracking yourself? It's hard to let go...but sometimes you need to so they realise life is tough.

Haggisfish Sat 02-Jan-16 23:48:24

What is it about teaching that appeals to him? You could ask him if he could ask a teacher he likes if he could teach part of a lesson. An eye opening experience for most students!

DancingDuck Sat 02-Jan-16 23:54:13

Bluebird I agree to an extent, but I don't think it's fair to do this by just sitting back and watching, ion the knowledge they will fail. They are so unaware at that age. And their hormones are raging. It's a rubbish time to be trying to concentrate. I think there's a fine balance between mummying them and carrying them, or steering them very clearly in the right direction then letting them head off on it unaided. That steering is a vital part of parenting teens imo. Really hard to get right, though.

IsabellaofFrance Sun 03-Jan-16 09:55:51

I don't want to let him fail. This isnt a karate exam he can take again if he doesn't put in as much practise as he should.

Thank you for your suggestions, I have spoken before to the teachers of the GCSE subjects he is taking this year, and that is how I found out about the written exam on Thursday. It is parents evening in March so I am hoping that I can enlist his other teachers help.

I think teaching a subject he loves appeals to him. I don't think he is thinking beyond that. He wanted to be an accountant before, which I think would suit him better, but now all he talks about is being a history teacher.

He wants to stay at his current school to do a levels, as most students do. I will speak to his HOY again to see if he will have a word about what the admission criteria are.

Haggisfish Sun 03-Jan-16 10:09:07

I wouldn't wait until parents evening. Ask if you can email teachers before then or go up to svhool to see them. I'm a teacher and it's much more productive to do this.

IguanaTail Sun 03-Jan-16 10:16:51

Ask him how he would motivate a student who didn't work hard. His answer will tell you what you need to know. Very often kids have a much harsher approach to what they would do...

sendsummer Sun 03-Jan-16 10:57:43

I have come to conclusion that just as DCs reach early developmental milestones at different ages, this is also the case for the neural network connections that allow DCs to really concretely grasp the medium to long term consequences of not putting effort in.
Ideally they would learn by failure and have second chances but is there any evidence that learning by failure accelerates the process of putting into practice the effort required. Also in the British system GCSEs are important for options in further study so using them to let a DC learn by failure seems a high risk option. I also think that laziness and procrastination can become a habit rather than a transition phase.
However it is important for DCs to be allowed to rest and work in the way that is most effective for them without parental anxieties pushing them to work when in fact a bit of extra sleep would be helpful. Also there is a limit to how successful pushing is in some cases.
So I think that for some DCs 'pushing' and a hand holding routine motivated by parents is needed at that age due to the relative importance of GCSEs but that 'pushing' needs to be carefully dosed so that it does n't become self-defeating.

DancingDuck Sun 03-Jan-16 11:48:44

send that's a really good point. Is there any evidence that failing makes people try harder next time?

noblegiraffe Sun 03-Jan-16 11:59:36

I have had many students who failed January modules in Y12 certainly seeing it as a kick up the backside to work harder - the realisation that coasting along won't produce the goods this time is often a valuable lesson.

It works with students who are used to success and do want/need to do well, but who haven't got a realistic perception of the work needed to achieve their target.

sendsummer Sun 03-Jan-16 12:41:48

noblegiraffe I think by mid year 12 there is more chance for most DCs to have the maturity for that lesson to be learnt assuming that lack of exam success motivates the DC. However it is easier to settle into a routine of effort if the habit has been set a bit earlier.

SheGotAllDaMoves Sun 03-Jan-16 14:27:33

People ask me this all the time both in RL and on MN; how did my DC become so well motivated.

The truth is I don't really know.

DH and I are both very well motivated, so perhaps it's partly genetic and partly nurture ( it's all they know).

Like a poster up thread I always commiserate with how dull revision is. Because it is! But then there is little tolerance of whining/attitude/refusal.

There is also a hell of a lot of talk in Casa Shegot about How Things Happen. Everything from passing exams, to writing a novel, to securing a client. And it's a recurring theme that nothing of any value happens without a certain amount of grit and boredom and effort.

Once you grasp that fact, all else follows? Perhaps?

I dunno.

SheGotAllDaMoves Sun 03-Jan-16 14:30:14

And yes, it helps tremendously if DC grasp this sooner than later. But some DC are simply not ready to hear it.

And in many ways who can blame them? It's not a very palatable fact. Lots of adults still can't abide the notion that life isn't a chip bitty.

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