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'Hands Off' GCSE Mothers

(104 Posts)
AlwaysHungryAlwaysTired Thu 15-Mar-18 10:04:21

DS1 is taking GCSEs this summer and, while reading mumsnet posts and worrying internally that he is not doing what everyone else's DCs seems to be doing in terms of revision, extra-curricular activities and all round brilliance/dedication, I am more or less completely leaving him to get on with it himself. Which, at the moment, means he doesn't seem to be doing anything much study-wise outside of school hours.

Please tell me there are others out there doing the same? I can't take any more hearing that children have been revising for two hours a night since December!! Overall I trust that DS1 will be ok doing it alone, but have moments of doubt frequently that I am not involved enough. How do we know how much is the right amount to parent in these years when they are becoming adults?!

And how come DH never seems to worry about any of this?!

OP’s posts: |
HappydaysArehere Thu 15-Mar-18 10:16:20

He sounds just like my grandson. I think in general girls revise more and worry more. Can you just have the occasional chat about what he actually has to do? Then suggest it sounds as if he needs to set some time aside to get good results and not be disappointed. Does he enjoy the subjects? If they are subjects that you like or know something about it helps.

TeenTimesTwo Thu 15-Mar-18 10:18:56

I think these boards tend to attract more involved parents, and the hands off ones won't tend to visit here much. I had to be hands on with my DD1 due to her SpLD and DD2 is equally likely to need support.

If your DS
a) did well enough in his mocks (you can define 'well enough')
b) gets reports indicating he works well in school
c) doesn't need results that are a bit of a stretch for whatever he wants to do next
then you can possibly stay reasonably hands off.

At minimum I think you should have his exam timetable up somewhere visible and to have checked with him it contains all expected exams at the correct tier.

Don't organise holidays in the May half term.

And occasional asking how revision is going wouldn't harm.

I think some y11s are mature and independent enough to manage with little guidance, but others aren't. Hopefully you know your child and you are making the right call.

ToffeeUp Thu 15-Mar-18 10:21:50

I am with you, we are leaving DS mostly to it. School is already putting enough pressure on him and he knows the importance of revising but in the end it is him who has to do it.

I recognise the moments of doubts but DS did quite well in his last mocks so he is doing something right.

drummersmum Thu 15-Mar-18 10:40:36

Don't organise holidays in the May half term I'm shock that someone would do that right in the middle of the actual exams. I'd say don't organise holidays during Easter either. Even if they don't revise, it sends the message that sometimes in life you have a job to do and you don't go travelling and sunbathing, you do it. Then you celebrate.

alwayshungry don't worry my DS is not revising two hours a day at all, mainly because he doesn't have them. He revised for mocks over Christmas, though. His school is being brilliant at scheduling revision during lessons and he will revise during Easter. I think most parents would be surprised at how much their DC know of the stuff, after having studied it for two years.

AlwaysHungryAlwaysTired Thu 15-Mar-18 10:42:44

ToffeeUp you sound on my wavelength! One of my biggest reasons for trying to be 'hands off' is that I do think the schools already put enough pressure on these children and they don't need us nagging them too. Also don't want burnout/anxiety especially when there are probably A levels, Uni etc. ahead too. And of course don't want him to think that our love is conditional on exam results.

TeenTimesTwo I did check the exam timetable when it first came home, but haven't put it up on display. I think I will find a copy and put it up somewhere over the Easter holidays. He still has a month after he goes back to school for the summer term before his exams start I think and that feels like long enough to have to look at it every day.

Does anyone remember their own parents going on at them about revision or trying to get them to do loads extra outside of school? I don't. Maybe that's what's giving me the (perhaps misplaced) confidence to leave him to it.

Also I work in teenage mental health and see too much stress in teens which often seems linked to being constantly pushed/lack of down time and feelings of lack of control/not being allowed to grow up and take responsibility for themselves. So that probably also colours my attitude.

There's a massive difference between enough and too much support, but it's hard to make that call as a parent isn't it. I hope so much that we're getting it right enough!

OP’s posts: |
HidingFromTheWorld Thu 15-Mar-18 10:44:07

The support I’m giving my DD consists of:

Guidance, when requested, on structure and length of time to study on a particular day.
Opinion, again, when requested, on written work (English, History, Classics).
Provision of flash cards, notebooks, sticky tabs, post its, coloured gel pens, etc, etc.
Regular supply of flying saucer sweets, as they’re her revision treat of choice.
Assisting her with planning her revision timetable on a weekly basis.
Supplying copious amounts of tea, hugs and a listening ear.

She knows what she needs to study, it was getting into the right frame of mind and ensuring she manages her time better that proved an issue following the mocks. She’s introduced a timer, so that she works under timed chunks of revision, because she easily loses track.

Other than that, she knows where she needs to focus and that I’m there for her. Thankfully, we’re very close and she tells me anything, so reading moods and anxiety hasn’t been an issue thus far.

HidingFromTheWorld Thu 15-Mar-18 10:49:49

I should add that her study/homework time after school is usually between 4-6pm and, at weekends, 10-3. This is her optimum time and she struggles with anything later. It’s very much broken into 20 minute chunks however and we do ensure that she’s not overdoing things, takes proper breaks, etc.

She attends the gym three times a week with my DH and we include time out at the weekend to give her head some space away from it all.

It’s working well so far

SoundofSilence Thu 15-Mar-18 10:59:42

I am relatively hands off. I work full time and DS2 (5) demands so much attention in the time I do have that I can't hover over DS1. DS1 has positively thrived on the reduction in attention since DS2 was born, but I did feel like I had dropped the ball when he under-performed in several of his mocks.

He seems to have taken the message of his mock results on, though, and is trying hard now. Even if I might prefer otherwise, I still don't have time to hover. I've arranged all the revision materials that I can, also transport so that he can miss the school bus to attend after-school revision sessions, and he talks about how it is going and study techniques quite often. A car journey when he can't escape is interrogation and advice time grin.

At the end of the day I can't sit the exams for him. He's mature enough not to need me when he's camping in the mountains with the Scouts, and I've told him that I'm also trusting him to be mature enough to manage his own education. And asked him not to make me regret it. It's up to him.

ToffeeUp Thu 15-Mar-18 11:31:21

Hiding to me that sounds quite full on, especially the 10-3 in the weekend. It would not work with my son.

Like SoundofSilence, we have provided revision materials, a study area and have regular talks about how it is going and we have attended the parent evenings after the mocks. DS knows he can ask for help/support whenever he wants. He struggled with chemistry in his first mocks and on the advice of school he changed to double science which took off a lot of pressure and his grade has improved significantly in the second mocks.

Both mine and DH's parents took the same approach, it worked for us and it seems to be working for DS.

drummersmum Thu 15-Mar-18 11:34:44

tofeeup my DS works 10 am to 9 pm on Sundays only on given homework (plus some music practice in between). So 10 to 3 sounds reasonable to me!

AlwaysHungryAlwaysTired Thu 15-Mar-18 11:48:51

Blimey! There is no chance my DS would work 10-3 or more at the weekend. I don't think I would want him to. This is the sort of comment that I have to fight not to let it panic me!!!! But they are all different, and so are we.

My DS has a weekend job so he works on Saturdays. Then Sundays are mainly used for sport, chilling out, spending time with family or friends or the new girlfriend. He is not doing any work at all other than that set by the school at the moment. But of course he is (I trust) working hard at school from 9 ish to 3 ish each day, which is already quite a long day of brain work.

OP’s posts: |
ToffeeUp Thu 15-Mar-18 11:49:01

Wow drummers that is a lot of homework!

As I said, that much revision at this stage would not work on my son and it wouldn't have worked on me either.

Baubletrouble43 Thu 15-Mar-18 11:52:04

I've always had a hands off attitude to dd1 as I wanted her to get on with it independently and learn to organise herself. It was one of the things she was praised for at college and now at uni. Obviously helped that she was naturally able to do this; if there had been bad reports/underperforming I would have stepped in and been more proactive.

Collywobbles1984 Thu 15-Mar-18 11:55:14

I'm with you OP, my DD is taking her GCSE's next year and I'm very much of the thinking that all she can do is her best. I won't be pressuring her into extra-curricula revision if she doesn't want to do it. What will be, will be. These days you can re-take exams at any point in life should you need to, so I just want her to enjoy being a child!

BeyondThePage Thu 15-Mar-18 11:56:16

I was hands off with DD17 last year - she did ok - but did not in any way fulfil her potential. i.e. if she had worked harder at all she would have done better. I don't know if that will matter to her for her future choices or not - she is an independent type and will brook no intervention from me anyhow.

DD15 is doing hers this year and has seen the effects of coasting in her sister, she is working harder - but again, does not want intervention, wants to do it her way - which is fine.

Joinourclub Thu 15-Mar-18 12:07:29

I think gcse students definitely need support from their parents. So not nagging but:

Checking that they know some revision methods that work for them.
Providing them with support materials: past exam papers, checklists, revision guide, flash cards etc
Making sure they have somewhere to study.
Helping them plan a revision timetable
And also: helping them to destress if necessary

Revision really should start over the Easter holidays, so that if they find they are struggling with particular areas, there is plenty of time for them to ask for support from the relevant teachers.

Malbecfan Thu 15-Mar-18 12:12:02

I'm a year 11 tutor and have had 2 DDs go through GCSEs in the last 5 years. A couple of my tutor group are being mentored to help with their personal organisation, but they are mostly coping.

I gave each of the tutor group a revision timetable adapted from the pre-mock period this week. I suggest 2 sessions of 40 - 60 minutes' revision after school each day, but they have to be specific. Some subjects have given out revision plans that they will be following in lessons, so on the night before e.g. the electro-magnetic spectrum revision lesson in Physics, they should slot it into their revision plan. At the weekend, I told them to put in their commitments (sport, job etc.) first then schedule around them. I like them to take half a day out for themselves as it helps to recharge their batteries and for concepts to sink in.

HidingFromTheWorld Thu 15-Mar-18 12:13:27

It’s whatever works for the individual DC, without it being too much, too soon.

While it may appear to be a considerable amount, that period of time consists of 20 minutes study, 10 minutes break (chatting to me, reading a book, craft, cups of tea and snacks) plus a lunch break of 45 minutes. It is not a continuous 5 hours of study, which isn’t sustainable and is a route to disaster!

For my DD, it’s the balance she’s happiest with. She has many health conditions to manage and is unable to study late at night, early hours, in the car, etc, etc. She came up with the times she felt she managed best and I simply ensure she sticks to them without going over and has regular breaks.

Some DC on these threads are studying 2-4 hours weekday evenings, plus solid days over the weekends. Others are doing homework, but minimal self guided study.

As with everything, what works for one, won’t work for others. As long as they get the results they deserve, that’s fine.

IveGotBillsTheyreMultiplying Thu 15-Mar-18 12:21:47

Our 3rd is doing GCSEs this year- I've never seen an exam timetable or a revision timetable.

I don't keep track of homework and don't know how many hours study they do.

I basically trust them to use their time effectively.

The older two did very well with the 'hands off' approach at GCSE and A levels, balancing part time work and other activities.

I'd rather they took responsibility for their studies, after all it is their own future they're studying for. Learning to motivate yourself, organise yourself, delay gratification, have an intrinsic joy of learning and finding balance are useful for university too.

As long as feedback on parents evening and reports is good, we won't interfere. We will readily buy books, stationery as needed obviously.

I also don't clean their rooms. I think too much 'parenting' is stifling for emerging adolescents, they need to practice being independent before they leave home. Then they don't get a shock when their uni flat doesn't clean itself.

My parents had the same approach and we all were high achievers academically.

I would never say any of this in real life, as most people I know are much more involved and would probably think I'm a shit lazy parent who can't be arsed.

hmcAsWas Thu 15-Mar-18 12:26:39

I came off that board because everyone's dc seemed to be predicted a grade 9 ( I thought that was only supposed to be 3% of examinees hmm)and had seemingly an astonishing work ethic!

Personally I don't think it is possible to revise for more than 2-3 hours per day (at the weekend / during study leave; I would say only an hour of so for week days after school) without your brain frying / overload. Certainly that's the case for dd

I am not however hands off - dd wants and values help and support with revision, but I am realistic about what it is reasonable for her to do. She is revising a bit during term time - all of her maths, PE and English Lit homework is revision in any case as they have completed the syllabus, but unfortunately they are still teaching the syllabus for history, chem, biology and physics and the homework keeps coming. Plus she has to finish her art portfolio (and that is a priority as one of her intended A level subjects)

During the Easter break she will be following the pattern of five 35 minute revision sessions per day, for two days running and then the third day completely off. She could not sustain revising every single days and needs a proper break to recharge.

I think some parents think their child is revising when they are sat in their bedroom all day in front of their books. News flash - they are not. Their attention must and does wander - a lot.

DD finds that with a short sharp revision session she can fully commit to focussing during that time. She also revises in a room separate to her bedroom to keep that demarcation between work and relaxation

ToffeeUp Thu 15-Mar-18 12:27:06

Good post hiding and I agree with you.

As I said to me personally, your DD's schedule feels full on but I am sure many posters on the education board would consider it the bare minimum.
But then I often feel like I live in an alternative universe when reading MN education grin

AlwaysHungryAlwaysTired Thu 15-Mar-18 12:27:08

IveGotBills your last sentence applies to me too! It's nice to have a thread where we can say it without being judged as not involved/pushy/supportive enough. You sound like a marvellous parent to me!!!

OP’s posts: |
BerkInBag Thu 15-Mar-18 12:29:22

DS is doing a couple of hours a night now. Plus lunchtime and after school revision sessions at school during the week. At weekends he does 3-4 hours on Sat and same on Sunday. Some of his lessons are just pure revision now and the school runs Revision clubs in the Easter and Half Term holidays which he will attend.

I've helped him get his revisions materials in order and we do a weekly timetable together so that he is hitting all of his subjects.
I also sit and watch You Tube revision videos with him which he then talks through with me - we're doing a Mr Bruff poetry video each night at the moment which I quite enjoy.

It's not overly stressful. He seems to be coping and is fitting in R&R time too. He tells that some of his friends are doing a hell of a lot more and others less. Although I take that with a pinch of salt. As long as he feels he's done what he needs to do I'm happy.

HidingFromTheWorld Thu 15-Mar-18 12:32:44

Like I said, IveGotBills, it’s what works for our DC/us/our families.

I respect your way of parenting, while accepting that not everyone would agree with it, nor would they agree with mine.

As long as our DC find the right path for them, all well and good.

I’m just thankful my DD is well enough to sit the exams, which was doubtful a few months ago. She’s leading the way in terms of study and I’m just providing the support she requires, which is really very little.

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