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Help me be calm about bright year 11 who is not doing the work for her GCSEs that are on now

(37 Posts)
grinkle Sun 17-Apr-16 20:57:35

Just that really.

I just lost the plot a bit when she told me she was planning to go out with her boyf on the night before her French oral and the day when her 2 art GCSEs coursework are due in (she's hugely behind in all 3 subjects and may well fail all, despite the fact she has the ability to get As at least in all 3 subjects). Apparently it has to be that night particularly because he (the bf) is not allowed by his mum to go out any other nights because of his GCSEs!

I am so frustrated that she is not doing the work she needs to do and won't accept any help. I also got v cross when she told me earlier today she doesn't like any of the food I cook because I "only cook food out of packets like pasta etc" - this after I spent 2 weeks of her holidays home cooking her 3 meals a day for her, bringing her a big, fresh-cooked full cooked breakfast in bed etc every day to help her while she studies, even though I work full-time from home. She doesn't appreciate any help she gets.

Just so frustrated with her - I know she's really stressed but I'm finding it so hard to watch her flounder and not put the effort in. We're not well off and can't afford to help her financially so she's going to need the grades to get on in life - and she's super bright so with the effort she could realistically expect all As/A*s. But she has to do the work.

I know my stress levels are not helping - please help me to be the super-calm, helpful parent I'm absolutely not at the moment but really need to be! flowers

TeenAndTween Sun 17-Apr-16 21:50:01

Any chance she'll let you sit down and agree a revision timetable with her?

Remember 2 hours planned and done each day is better than 6 hours planned but not done!

grinkle Sun 17-Apr-16 21:51:02

Doubt it...

Think she's just in a panic so going round in circles....

parissont Sun 17-Apr-16 22:11:22

I'm insisting that dd does 6 past papers a week. Would that work?

She did art last year thank goodness.

She hasn't done much this weekend

grinkle Sun 17-Apr-16 22:18:35

Ha ha - would be thrilled if dd did 1 a week! And anyway, past papers are way beyond her - she'd have to actually know some French before she could understand the questions on the paper! Seriously.

grinkle Sun 17-Apr-16 22:20:35

I naively believed her when she said she was on top of her work and naively believed her teachers when they predicted her a B but said she should do better. Until the start of last year she was in the top group! Now in a middle group. How no-one notice she doesn't actually know any French I have no idea.

parissont Mon 18-Apr-16 07:02:36

If she was in top groups and predicted Bs she must know some French! How did she do in her mocks?

DropYourSword Mon 18-Apr-16 07:10:57

How has she got the ability to get an A in French if she doesn't actually know any French?

I remember (many years ago) stressing my mum out in a similar fashion to this. The more she made a deal out of it the more I pulled back. Not sure if it's great advice for everyone, but in our situation mum just learned to take a step back and accept that I had to deal with the consequences of my decisions. Is there any chance you cloths sit down with your DD and explain you were worried because you care about her and her future, but you've decided she's mature enough to make her own decisions, BUT she deals with the outcome too and you won't be there to 'rescue' her.

parissont Mon 18-Apr-16 08:12:42

Or you could try the other approach and not let her out with her boyfriend! I'm afraid that's what I am doing. There was a sleepover on Sat night that most of her friends went to but I said no way!! There's only a few weeks to go.

grinkle Mon 18-Apr-16 08:45:18

Drop - that's the approach I've pursued for years in the mistaken belief she would sort herself out. I don't want her to screw up her GCSEs though, in the absence of sorting herself out. I'd rather she got decent grades even if she learnt the lesson that mum will bail her out, tbh.

grinkle Mon 18-Apr-16 08:50:59

She got a B or C in her mock, I think, but I seriously doubt their judgement - I got her to do a mock and it was a clear fail. But she's an expert bullshitter - she's good on all the 'a mon avis' etc - just didn't actually know any tenses properly and v limited vocab as not bothered to learn it.

As to how she could get an A if she doesn't know any French, I'm talking about her ability not her knowledge, which is nowhere near an A. I've been doing intense French tutoring myself since I discovered she didn't know any tenses/little vocab and she's made huge progress in about 2 weeks of an hour a day with me. But still huge amounts of ground to cover...

Am now wishing I'd been uber-strict parent from day 1, rather than last-minute helicopter parent. So yes, parissont, grounding her definitely the way to go!

parissont Mon 18-Apr-16 09:12:27

She will probably do better than you think. Is it only French that's the issue?

parissont Mon 18-Apr-16 09:15:46

In my mind, ability isn't just about being clever. It's also having the maturity to do the work! I have said to dd the worst feeling in the world is walking out of an exam knowing you could have done better if you'd put the hours in.

I am glad dd doesn't have a boyfriend tbh although she does have a horse which is equally as time consuming hmm

lljkk Mon 18-Apr-16 09:48:09

You can lead a horse to water (offer to help & remind her why she wants to do well) but you can't make it drink (she has to do the work).

Didn't you ever have to learn anything the hard way, OP?

Even if she totally blows her GCSEs (I doubt she will) there are other ways to be successful in life, and even to get back on track to university, etc.

I wish my yr11 DS had a girlfriend, he'd be keen to impress her with how clever he is.

grinkle Mon 18-Apr-16 10:12:05

All true, parissont and lljkk - but it's hard. Because she will hate herself if she gets poor grades and it will have a real impact on what unis she can get into etc. More so these days now AS levels largely stopped.

She really struggles with organisation and I hope she will learn those skills one day, ie develop the maturity you mentioned parissont, but dumping her in it before exams that actually matter seems cruel.

It's not only her French though that's long been her worst subject. It's also just impacted her two art GCSEs - she was up till after midnight during 4 days of exams last week desperately trying to do studies she should have done weeks ago. Of course she didn't have enough time so the studies she handed in were poor and she has had that experience of knowing that if only she had worked harder she could have done better. I just have to hope her final exam piece was good enough it will go some way towards making up for the poor studies. She's also got to finish off her portfolios by next Tues and again big gaps - but not really knuckling down.

I think the root of it is fear of failure - if she doesn't do the work and fails, she can always tell herself (and others, but mainly herself) that if only she'd done the work, she could have done well. The real fear is doing the work and then her real limitations becoming apparent. That comes from years of teachers (not family, I should add!) telling her how 'brilliant' she is. Very unhelpful - I never say stuff like that to her and want to cringe when teachers do.

DropYourSword Mon 18-Apr-16 10:22:57

I think you may have hit the nail on the head there OP. Thinking back to my experience, one of the reasons I didn't put 100% in was that I always had that fallback excuse that I could have done better if I'd tried harder. I think for some people that's easier to deal with than feeling more of a failure because you tried as hard as you possibly could and it still wasn't enough. I had a lot of pressure and expectation put on me (teachers rather than family) and it wasn't helpful.

lljkk Mon 18-Apr-16 10:56:26

Doesn't everyone have fear of failure? The more you can admit that the easier it is to not let it make decisions for you. It's a good thing to try to nudge her along to dealing with that fear. Long term project, GCSE exam season just another opportunity to talk about it.

it will have a real impact on what unis she can get into etc.

Since you asked how you remain calm, as in, (maybe?) how you accept things as they are...

Maybe those Unis somehow ruled out never would be right for anyway, if she has such issues with fear of failure and not as good organisation skills as some kids (& whatever else is holding her back). So yeah, maybe her GCSE results will be so "bad" that they will rule some things out, but who says that outcome will mean anything bad for her personally? Don't have to go to the "best" university to be successful. There are lots of successful pathways thru life.

(If posters instead want threads to answer "How do I make my kid revise as much as I want them to" then I wish they would put that on the thread title rather than pretend they want anything else)

catslife Mon 18-Apr-16 11:30:14

I have a dd in Y11. I think that the idea that bright children can obtain As and A*s in all subjects is unrealistic. The real difficulty with GCSEs is balancing the different workloads for many different subjects: some which you may really like and want to take for A level, and others that you perhaps liked a while ago, but you have found the GCSE course less interesting than you thought you would when you started (or are only taking because the school insisted) iyswim.
dd hasn't decided anything about uni yet but comments that you must get all As and A*s at GCSE for top unis, although very prevalent on Mumsnet, may not be true in the real world!
We have agreed the following priorities for dd:
1. Maths and English GCSEs are key, as pupils have to keep resitting if they obtain less than grade Cs - so if she doesn't want to be taking these next year, she needs to achieve this standard.
2. To obtain the best possible results in the subjects that she would like to take at A level.
3. working on other subjects that she is not planning on taking at A level.
Is it French GCSE or iGCSE? If it's the GCSE they have already done the Writing as controlled assessments. Many schools have already done the orals (speaking) and the main exams are Listening and Reading. At dds school they are doing practice papers at school.

parissont Mon 18-Apr-16 12:44:17

yes catslife our goals are similar for dd

she would like to do A level Biology BUT we (and school ) have said really not worth it unless you get an A at GCSE as it is a very hard A level course. So she is prioritising Biology and HIstory which she is predicted an A in, English which she enjoys, MATHS which she hates and could possibly fail. She isn't too worried about anything except MATHS...

dds problem is not reading the question properly and also just writing down everything she knows to see if something sticks!!

grinkle Mon 18-Apr-16 13:46:48

catslife and parissont - just to clarify I'm no way expecting her to get all A or A*! Though yes, she is academically (if not organisationally) capable of that and yes, it does frustrate me because I went to Oxbridge and know she's at least as clever as me so would like that to be an option if she wanted it (though knowing how hard I worked means she's already ruled it out years ago!).

I am more realistic than that - I'd just like her not to fail anything. And my view of academic success is it's not really about brilliance, it's about habit - if you get in the habit of doing things to a certain standard and getting good grades, it's not really an effort, it's just normal. Conversely, if you don't, that becomes your 'normal'. I'm just trying to get her to set her sense of 'normal' higher up the scale - because I think she clearly lacks confidence in measuring up to her school's expectations (based I think on CAT tests, where I think she must have done very well, given her initial groups).

lljkk - thanks, that was helpful. For me, as I said, we're not well off. So it's easy to say that grades don't matter, choice of uni doesn't matter - and of course, historically and even currently, you're right. But we both know that increasingly lots of those doors of social mobility are shutting as I write - and it seems a waste not to take advantage of the advantages one has, such as a good memory etc. Of course, a confident, outgoing child with bags of confidence can succeed anyway - but dd is not that child. She's the borderline Aspie who struggles socially. So the grades would go a long way, frankly...

grinkle Mon 18-Apr-16 13:50:07

Oh, and the French is IGCSE, so it goes 100% on the exam. Wish it didn't, because we would all have realised a long time ago where the gaps in dd's knowledge were.

bigTillyMint Mon 18-Apr-16 14:03:50

OP, I have a Y12 and a Y10, so I know how you feel - it is incredibly stressful parenting teens who are doing exams. It is dreadfully pressured now for teens with predicted grades and exam changes and everything. The stress is passed between teachers, students and parents.

I agree with many others here, you need to step back. Let her come to you for support. 'You can lead a horse to water' and all that.

You say "it does frustrate me because I went to Oxbridge" - do you think that this is one of the issues? You are finding it difficult to accept that she may not reach what you feel is the pinnacle of academic achievement?

lljkk Mon 18-Apr-16 14:14:10

So back to what I said... is this thread about how you feel or about you finding ways to make your DD be someone else?

grinkle Mon 18-Apr-16 14:34:06

I don't know, lljkk - I don't think who she is is something she knows, or that is set in stone. I think she is at the stage now where she could be anything she chooses (well, within reason), but at each stage, like GCSES, some doors shut.

I get what you're saying about denying who she is and trying to mould her into what I want her to be - but if what what I want her to be is more employable is that such a bad thing? And is being someone who can get grade grades not part of who she is too? (It certainly has been until recently.) Is getting good grades not something you do rather than something you are?

DropYourSword Mon 18-Apr-16 14:34:19

Two things you've said stand out for me here.

I think her fear of failure results from your own stated fear of her failing. You say that her teachers for years have told her how brilliant she is and how unhelpful you have found that and that you'd never done that. I misinterpreted that earlier as them putting undue pressure on her, but now I'm thinking it's more likely that you don't actually praise her very much, and that whatever she does you expect more. The comment about her 'ruling out Oxbridge years ago' makes me suspect that this pressure/expectation has been heaped on her for years. I'd be mighty tired of it if I was her. This is her life, not a repeat performance of yours.

Secondly, it seems really important to you that she attends a good university and gets good grades etc and I get the impression that you see that, and only that, as a mark of success. But again by your own admission you went to Oxbridge and then mention about how you're not well off, can't help her financially etc. Maybe she thinks that in the grand scheme of things it's actually not as important as some other people think it is.

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