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Year 10 motivation techniques?!

(24 Posts)
Hooplah Thu 04-Jan-18 15:45:30

My 14 year old DS hates school! He is dyslexic and struggles hugely in the classroom. Until the end of Year 9 he was at a highly academic independent school, which basically broke him. We withdrew him and he is now in a much less pressurised hot house and much happier, but he has the attitude that 'he can't do it, he's going to fail his GCSEs so why bother?' Between us and his teachers, we are trying to convince him that he just needs to do his best, but that also he does have to put some effort into his learning but he won't have it. Other than chaining him to a desk, which would achieve absolutely nothing anyway, how can we convince him to start putting in some groundwork? We are not talking about not having a life, just that he has to get his round studying. This time next year, he will be sitting his mocks and I'm just trying to get him used to the idea that he actually could do OK if he sets his mind to it. The poor boy has had the stuffing knocked out of him but we can't help him unless his mindset changes...any suggestions gratefully received.

LockedOutOfMN Fri 05-Jan-18 13:30:09

I am a head of year 10 and I'd say that the GCSEs are too far off at the moment to be "real" for your son and therefore not an effective motivator. I'd try to find more short term, specific goals, perhaps by discussing with him. These might be:
1. Getting a better mark in a certain subject's test than last time (e.g. got 30% last time, aim for 50% this time).
2. Completing a piece of coursework.
3. Looking at his most recent school report and picking 2 or 3 subjects that he feels he can improve at in a specific way before the next report - e.g. aim for higher effort marks in these 3 subjects.

Focusing on effort, attitude and organisation in Year 10 is often the best way to see the grades go up in Year 11.

If you or another family member has any spare time in the week, e.g. 30 minutes on a certain day, or 20 minutes twice a week, set aside that time to do something specific together, e.g. learn French vocab. or organise his files/books/bag, talk about Physics, etc.

Reward him when you can see him trying / improving, even if that effort or improvement isn't universal (i.e. Maths is going better but Chemistry is still a disaster - reward the Maths achievement).

Good luck!

QGMum Fri 05-Jan-18 13:42:49

Have you spoken to the school about what you can do to support him at home?

Also it's not clear to me from your post if, because of the dyslexia, he needs to do more at home to keep up than a typical child or he's not doing set homework, or he's doing homework but not to required standard. Can you explain the issue a bit more?

Hooplah Sun 07-Jan-18 18:59:00

Thank you both for your replies. I don't think dyslexia impacts on his studies...truthfully I think he's using it as an excuse, which makes me sad. QG, he is not set a huge amount of homework now, but what he does is just enough to keep his head above water...for the moment. For example, if he has a question with space for a 10 line answer, he will do two lines. School has great support and GCSE clubs which he refuses to attend. He is not motivated by rewards. His phone was taken away today (for other reasons)...his phone is his best friend but he is still not willing to get out a text book for half an hour to get it back.

LockedOut, I can absolutely see how planning and organising now will help him next year but I can't help him with that because he doesn't have the attitude and he's not willing to put in the effort - he just says he doesn't need to?

This situation is causing a huge amount of stress but should we just back off and let him do it his way? His predicted grades at the moment, by the way, are 1 in every subject, probable fail in maths. As parents, we are failing him somehow but we just can't get through to him? If he has to resit, is that so bad...just don't know anymore!

TeenTimesTwo Sun 07-Jan-18 21:41:06

Have you taken him to local 6th form college open evenings. There will be some this term. get him to see what courses are on offer and what grades he needs.

For some he will only need 4 x grade 4 including one of English & maths, and retaking the other. If he doesn't get that he'll have to go in at a lower level (and still retake English & maths).

If you can get him motivate about the step after GCSEs and he can see he doesn't need to get 8 x grade 7s, he might feel he has more of a chance, so might try harder.

Can he dictate answers to you with more detail than he writes? My DD (dyspraxia) needed help understanding what sort of stuff was being looked for. She never used a paragraph if she thought a sentence would do, and never a sentence if 1 or 2 words would do. But eventually she started learning what the question really wanted and it helped a lot.

Hooplah Mon 08-Jan-18 13:01:09

I tried to get him to the 6th form evenings but he wouldn't go. He just says he has to stay in education until he's 18 so they'll have to find him somewhere! I explain until I'm blue in the face that he needs a certain amount of points but he just doesn't seem to take it in! I think part of the trouble maybe that his old school told him that GCSEs aren't the most important thing and that he'll be fine even if he doesn't pass them!! Whether or not they were trying to make him feel better, I have no idea but it wasn't the most helpful suggestion... I've tried to explain that, although they aren't the be all and end all, he does need to have a good crack at passing them and then he can move on with his life!

Dictating his answers is a good idea but I know the response I will get when I put it to him!

I think he needs to come to his own conclusions but he's beginning to run out of time!

TeenTimesTwo Mon 08-Jan-18 15:15:04

I'd suggest you go to open evenings even if he won't as then you'll be better informed of options available and requirements for them. One of you needs to be informed, and if he won't engage it will have to be you!

Hooplah Mon 08-Jan-18 16:05:06

Thank you, I got all the dates and details and just should have gone (the rounds have finished here now), I was just so keen that he should come with me. Nothing to stop me doing it with the internet and a few phone calls though!

TeenTimesTwo Mon 08-Jan-18 17:12:25

There will be more later I'm sure, get the next set of dates and mark them on the calendar. smile

QGMum Mon 08-Jan-18 18:40:13

What does he plan to do with the rest of his life? Maybe focus on that and work backwards to what he needs to do to get there. I think the desire to put effort in needs to come from him. Sorry not to offer anything more helpful.

However they are still young. My Y10 dd refuses to talk about 6th form now as it's still too far in the future for her to consider.

reup Mon 08-Jan-18 19:29:55

Have we got the same son, except for the changing from an independent school bit. Mine is dyslexic and struggles with working memory, spelling and presentation. He has a laptop in some classes. He always does homework but it’s the bare minimum.

He recently got a report and was below target for all but one subject and not seriously below target for all sciences. They weren’ t that high target grades either. I don’t know where to start really - I’ve spoken to his tutor who is contacting his teachers but I haven’t heard back so I’ll email them myself (although I tried that with one in November but was ignored) as the comments on the report we’re a bit generic.

I have no idea how to motivate him as he doesn’t really know what he wants to do and us too lazy to look even though I’ve sent him links to things he showed an interest in.

I’m really dreading the next 18 months as it’s like going through my own teenage years but with all the stress and none of the fun bits.

Hooplah Tue 09-Jan-18 15:44:33

QGMum, he has no ideas or aspirations about his future...that's also part of the problem. His last school virtually told him that he won't amount to anything, so I guess his expectations are set low and he says you don't need GCSEs to work in McDonalds (which I would dispute actually). His old school has done so much damage to his self esteem...

Reup, that sounds so familiar!!! But you're ahead of me with the laptop, my DS also does not 'do' computers! It is so hard when they don't have the faintest idea of what they want to do and just nothing will motivate them. I'm totally with you on the next 18 months...I have a little calendar with the end of Year 11 already marked on it with a smiley face and am crossing off the days...he has not seen this of course! You never know, this time next year, they both will have received 7s in all their mocks and we'll wonder why we ever worried hmm!

redexpat Tue 09-Jan-18 16:02:47

I know that generally this approach is frowned upon, but would a cash bonus according to grades help?

redexpat Tue 09-Jan-18 16:04:43

Are there any summer schools you could send him on to boost his confidence?

reup Tue 09-Jan-18 22:10:58

I like the calendar idea!

His tutor phoned me today but I can’t answer at work so will call him back tomorrow.

My ds isn’t really motivated by money - really only loves the Xbox and youtube. If only there was a gcse in those he’d get 11s!

AuntieAunt Tue 09-Jan-18 22:28:00

Slightly different approach but it worked for my friend's son:-

Get him doing something to take away his mind from school. Has he got an interest? My friend's DS loved boats/sailing so once a week he did a day work experience. At first he was just the boy who would just help with life jackets and equipment for customers. But slowly he started helping the technicians but realised that he wanted to be nearer to the water. He left school with a few Es and Ds (but he carried on going to school, stopped being a rebellious teen and turned into a respectful young man at 16). The place he went to wasn't offering a formal apprenticeship but the other employees related to the boy and offered him an apprenticeship. He got the qualifications and now earning a good salary as a sailing instructor. The boy who couldn't control his anger, or sit still, poor lad could barely write a sentence without help motivated himself to get decent qualifications in what he wanted.

Your son is telling you something. Not everyone is cut out for academia, it will be wasting his time and mental health if he has to spend even more time at school. If he decides to do a apprenticeship/job he wants to do it will make these last 18 months more bearable for both of you.

TeenTimesTwo Wed 10-Jan-18 08:58:49

reup Motivated by Xbox and YouTube?

So can you link doing schoolwork to access to those?

So e.g.
- sit with me (you not me!) for 1 hour looking at options after school and fully engaging = 1 hr xbox
- homework done to good quality NOT bare minimum = 1 hr x box

QGMum Wed 10-Jan-18 13:25:01

I think you need to work on improving his self esteem and help him to find something he enjoys just as Auntie described in her post. He needs to see the long term benefit of qualifications for himself. Maybe some other posters can make suggestions on how to improve self esteem?

I don’t think policing x-box use as suggested will work very well for a 14/15 year old. At that age they need to be more in control of their own choices. Nagging or telling teenagers what to do tends to be counterproductive ime.

TeenTimesTwo Wed 10-Jan-18 13:28:41

QG you may well be right. But some teens can't see ahead very well, so dependent on the teen, the boredom of no X box coupled with incentive might break the cycle to get some more work done.
Or it might just make them cross and even less cooperative!

reup Wed 10-Jan-18 16:28:18

The trouble with mine is that he always does do his homework - usually before I get home from work. It’s just with not enough detail. It’s hard for me to know how to help him as sometimes I don’t know exactly what the teacher is looking for - coupled with the facts he uses his laptop so I just can’t check his books.

His tutor rang back today and was really nice so has given me some advice he’s gleaned from some teachers he has spoken to.

Sorry for hi-jacking yr thread Hooplah!

Hooplah Thu 11-Jan-18 15:28:58

Hi-jack away reup - every bit of info is helpful and I'm absorbing everything I can!!

I'm really on board with the job ideas but, yet again, being met with a brick wall!!!!! This week his new school have implemented GCSE clubs after school and, of course, I was met with looks of derision when I suggested he might like to think about going. However, he came home yesterday and said that his business studies teacher has told him he HAS to attend her's and he is going (reluctantly!). So I've emailed the school today to find out if any of the other teachers might want to take this approach... let's see!

reup Mon 15-Jan-18 07:41:51

I thought I was getting through to him last week - he actually asked his English teacher how he could improve! I was really hopeful. Then yesterday he did nothing (he has some assessments next week) and then blamed me for being negative when I pointed this out.

Hooplah Sat 10-Feb-18 15:43:03

So, yesterday, DS came home saying he'd had a reading assessment and come out as a reading age of 8 (he's 15) and his school pathway report is predicting a 2 in all subjects, but he is underperforming and, if his work ethic continues this way, he won't even reach that in 3 subjects. I know we have a year to go until GCSE proper, but he's said this morning that he's given up and if he fails, it's down to him. It's heart-breaking as we can give him so much help but, if his mind is not in the right place, there's nothing we can do. He's so angry and we can change his mindset???

DayKay Sun 11-Feb-18 17:35:59

That sounds so sad for your ds. I agree with what a pp said - you need to help him with his self esteem. It seems like he thinks there’s no hope for him and he’s going to amount to nothing.
That’s so not true.
Tell him you haven’t given up and you’ll fight this out together.
Let him know that teachers can’t always predict how everyone’s going to do. I’m sure there are always a few surprises.
Just keep talking to him and tell him how proud you are of how far he’s come.
Ask him, if there was one subject he’d like to be good, which one? Maybe start going through some stuff with him.
I don’t know much about dyslexia but is there support you can access? Tuition for reading? There are tutors who understand dyslexia.
Otherwise cgp revision books are good. Buy them in a few subjects and tutor him yourself.

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