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GCSEs - how to motivate your DC

(28 Posts)
1Wanda1 Tue 20-Mar-18 09:39:25

I've read the GCSEs thread and it's great that so many DC are conscientiously putting in the hours to achieve their potential this summer.

DS is not one of them. I am at my wits' end trying to find ways to instil some motivation in him and don't know what to do. He is a perfectly able student when he applies himself, but he never voluntarily applies himself. Since November I have been trying to get him to revise, and all that happens is arguments.

Mocks were in Dec and in the run up to them he went mental every time I suggested revision, insisting that he was doing plenty. Mocks results were well below his "tag" grades - in some cases 2 or 3 grades below. After results he said he hadn't worked for them but if he had, he would have got all 7s. They had second mocks in English and Maths in March so I said fine, having learned what happens with no revision, now will you work harder for the next ones? He said he would. He did a bit more work but nowhere near enough. Grades coming soon but not expected to be any better.

His actual GCSEs are starting in 7 weeks! He has a maths tutor and an English tutor, both of whom say he is lazy. If I ever raise this with him, he goes mental about how nothing is ever good enough for me and he's such a disappointment. I wouldn't mind him getting 4s and 5s if that reflected his best effort, but all his teachers say he is capable of 7s and above.

His teachers are running extra revision sessions at school and every week I have to really push him to go to them. He says things like "I don't need to go to the History session on Cold War, because I'm fine on that". His History teacher says otherwise.

This isn't a pass/fail problem. He will still get 5s and above in most subjects with minimal work. But he could do so much better and just does not seem to care about how mediocre gcse grades will affect his a level courses, and uni applications, or jobs.

There is no point me banging on about it at him. How can I get HIM to care?

ifonly4 Tue 20-Mar-18 11:09:22

DD did her GCSEs last year when coursework still made up a large amount of the grade and she put everything into getting that as right as possible.

However, I had the same concerns this time last year. DD has hardly ever done any revision in her life, I knew others were doing it regularly and DD was stating she wouldn't go to any revision sessions as she wanted to spend the time revising what she wanted.

However, about three weeks before the exams, she got herself focused and would be up until 11pm revising. Fingers crossed, this will happen for your son.

What are his plans next year? If there's a course or apprenticeship he really wants, that might help him focus on doing his best now. It might be worth having a word with someone at the school to see if they can encourage him/have a chat.

ReinettePompadour Tue 20-Mar-18 11:20:02

You wont get him to care. He doesn't yet see the benefits of doing his GCSEs. Theres no correlation between him studying, getting the 7s he is capable of and getting onto a good University course or apprenticeship. The schools tend to work 1 focus at a time and its a case of 'lets get the GCSEs out the way then we will look at the next step'.

It sounds really awful but I would just leave him alone to deal with it however he feels he wants to. Don't nag him just ask him once a week if he managed to get any revision done last week and leave it at that. He will either start cramming last minute because he's starting to get nervous or he wont bother because he's sure he will be fine.

DD came home with several 'GCSE in a week' crammer books last month that the school were lending to students hmm that isn't going to help motivate them, it gives the impression they can do all the study they need in just a week to pass.

Its not the end of the world if he doesn't do as well as his potential should allow him. He genuinely can resit them once he has had the shock of not getting the grades he wanted or go on to study Access courses or foundation degrees if he wants to go to University.

How has he done with his mocks? If theyre 6/7 then he really wont see why he needs to revise because his grades are ok just not up to Mums standards

TeenTimesTwo Tue 20-Mar-18 11:40:42

just does not seem to care about how mediocre gcse grades will affect his a level courses

I think this is probably your only leverage. What grades does he need to do what he wants to do next? Is he likely to miss them with his current level of work? Can you make him investigate a Plan B and see how much he won't like it?

Alternatively, pay him to revise? i.e. Not results but actually hours put in now so he gets immediate benefit?

However, if he won't work for GCSEs, will he work for A levels? he won't get through them on a wing and a prayer.

1Wanda1 Tue 20-Mar-18 13:00:37

He wants to go to sixth form college next year. Entry requirements are only grade 5s and above, so he'll get in, just might not be allowed to do the subjects he wants.

Mocks results ranged from a 2 to a 7. The the majority were 4-6. The subject teacher for which he got the 7 cautioned that there's no way to know whether with such a low percentage in the real exam, he would get a 7. I think within the school in mocks they were giving a 7 for 27/50 and he got 27/50. Seems unlikely to me that 54% will get a 7 in the real GCSEs.

He wants to do physics and maths a levels and got 6s in those in mocks. Obviously A level is a massive step up from gcse and even very bright and motivated kids struggle with physics and maths a levels, so I seriously doubt that getting 6s at gcse is going to set him up well for the A level courses.

He just thinks that he is going to do well, i.e. 7s and above, but is not putting in any effort to achieve that. He is doing about 3 hours' revision in a whole weekend. By the time he "gets it", if he even cares by then, it will be too late for him to really get on top of it.

TeenTimesTwo Tue 20-Mar-18 13:09:15

just might not be allowed to do the subjects he wants.

Our local 6th form colleges are very clear on the requirements for particular subjects. e.g. To do maths A level you used to need an A grade at GCSE, which if they have kept it the same would be a 7 now.

So it should be possible for your DS to be very clear on the needed grades for maths & science A levels.

LooseAtTheSeams Tue 20-Mar-18 13:24:02

I don't know if this is any comfort but DS's school would say this behaviour is common in boys and they tend to see a sudden burst of revision after the Easter break! If you can get him to practise his maths and physics over Easter, do the tutoring and maybe watch Mr Bruff YouTube videos for English, that will be something. If school runs revision classes he must go to those as they can make a difference on exam technique.
That may be as good as it gets until the reality hits at the beginning of the summer term and he starts cramming!

1Wanda1 Tue 20-Mar-18 13:39:34

Thanks for replies. He has a course choices session at college next week so hopefully if he hears from them that he must get 7s in maths and physics, he will step up his revision in those subjects.

I just don't understand how he can be so happy to lay about watching Netflix and playing on his phone at weekends when he has SO MUCH WORK to be getting on with! I was completely the opposite at his age and his attitude to exams is incomprehensible to me.

Jasmineforever Tue 20-Mar-18 13:51:25

My son was quite similar but after his mocks in November, he got a shock and picked up the pace. He isn't happy to revise traditionally but he's done lots of reading notes aloud and recording them as 'podcasts'. He also got family and friends to read the English poems aloud and he's been making them into a video compilation. He needed a different way to do things. He's used maths watch and YouTube revision videos.
He gets his next mock results on Friday and I'll be disappointed for him if he hasn't improved as he has put the work in this time.
I know exactly how you feel through.

KickBishopBrennanUpTheArse Wed 21-Mar-18 08:07:13

He is doing about 3 hours' revision in a whole weekend.

I was with you until I read that grin

I have a similar dd. She is doing NO revision at the weekend. She is convinced that now they are mostly revising at school there's no point doing any at home.

Three hours isn't that bad. He still has around 7 weeks to go and he is likely to ramp it up a bit nearer the time. He's probably doing about 6 hrs a day during the week now too.

Can you ask him to give my dd a ring and persuade her to do some revision this weekend?!

YoloSwaggins Thu 22-Mar-18 19:51:02

I just don't understand how he can be so happy to lay about watching Netflix and playing on his phone at weekends when he has SO MUCH WORK to be getting on with!

Meh, I was like this. I spent most of my evenings watching Gossip Girl and playing Runescape and revised for every GCSE pretty much the night before. Got A*s and As so it was alright. I think I only truly pulled my finger out of my arse at 3rd year uni. Reason being, I was perfectly happy with my grades and didn't see why I should put in any extra work for not much gain. End of 2nd year uni I got a 2.1, and suddenly thought - "SHIT, if I carry on like this I won't get a 1st".

Your son clearly thinks his grades are good enough as they are, or he will start to cram when "the fear" kicks in. Cramming works pretty well, we all did it at school. Just let him get on with it IMO.

YoloSwaggins Thu 22-Mar-18 19:52:01

Also, revising in March is a bit excessive - I went to a grammar and none of us started till after Easter. Even at uni it was always a month before.

HopeClearwater Thu 22-Mar-18 19:57:40

Oh I could have written the OP’s post.

My DS has now reached the dizzy heights of reading the comments on Mr Bruff videos...

EsmeMargaretNoteSpelling Sun 25-Mar-18 09:28:10

The jump from gcse maths to a level is huge. My dad got an A* last year (igcse so still letters not numbers) and has struggled massively with the alevel. I knew she would as she was good at the subject but didn’t love it the way you need to to battle through the first couple of terms where you suddenly realise the size of the jump. As she was doing 4, she’s decided to drop it to focus on her other a levels as unis only look for 3 and she was spending a disproportionate amount of time keeping up. Anyway, with a potential 7 in maths he is in for shock especially if he is a lad that doesn’t do “effort”.

TeenTimesTwo Sun 25-Mar-18 09:51:30

Yolo If you did GCSEs and have been through uni then you will have done them under the old modular system which also had plenty of coursework / controlled assessments?

The current GCSEs are nothing like that, and are much more akin to the old O levels with terminal exams and few marks in the bag already.

So there is more content to revise for every subject, and more exams per subject. Only a very bright child can get away with 'only revising the night before', even with the revision they are doing in school.

TheFrendo Sun 25-Mar-18 11:51:04

To do A level in maths or science you want better than a 6. Better than a 7 really.

A 6 means that you got more than half the questions wrong. That is not a sound footing for further study. Students with Bs (old money) had generally very poor outcomes at A level.

Will that work as motivation?

1Wanda1 Sun 25-Mar-18 12:53:38

TheFrendo I don't think that does work as motivation because that doesn't seem to be what his school tells him. He genuinely seems to think a 7 will be fine.

We are going to a course choice talk at 6th form college next week and I really hope they tell him otherwise but I don't think they will.

BarbarianMum Sun 25-Mar-18 17:02:46

How hard core do you want to be?

My kids have been brought up to understand that education is a privilege. We will support them in getting as much education as they want - provided they work hard. But if they make a mockery of that privilege by wasting their time and their teacher's, they will be leaving the world of education and going out to work. I have no interest in nagging them to study, or in keeping them at school if their heart's not in it - they can always go back and study later as adults if they find the motivation.

So if ds1 was acting in the same way as your ds he'd be told 6th form wasn't going to be an option for him unless he showed me he was serious. And I'd mean it.

1Wanda1 Sun 25-Mar-18 18:05:07

Completely agree with your approach, BarbarianMum. Except that sixth form isn't an option any more as they all have to stay in education till 18 now. I think possibly you can leave school earlier if you get an apprenticeship or something, but you have to get one. I can't make DS get a job he doesn't want, when there is a lot of competition from those who do, and I'm not going to kick him out of the house either (not at 16, anyway). So another 2 years of dossing about before leaving school with some shit qualifications seems to be on the cards. I just want to wake him up so he starts trying before that happens.

BarbarianMum Sun 25-Mar-18 18:33:15

They wouldn't be out of education they'd be being "home educated". They can find paying work, and I know a few farmers and foresters always looking for laborers, or failing that they can take in all work in home and garden to pay for their keep. And no they wouldnt be hanging around on the play station/in bed all day because that's not an option in our family and in our home.

TeenAndTween Sun 25-Mar-18 18:43:10

I get the impression that they don't really care whether your 16-18yo is doing anything but I think I read here once that 'home educating' for 6th form if you haven't been doing so before won't qualify you child benefit.

lljkk Sun 25-Mar-18 21:08:30

He genuinely seems to think a 7 will be fine.

it will be fine. Said so yourself. confused

Except that sixth form isn't an option any more as they all have to stay in education till 18 now.

BS. DS was a NEET. We got a few calls from the council. And some completely inappropriate leaflets about revision courses (after DS actually got As in math & English GCSes). That was it. "Must Stay in education until 18" is a myth in practice b/c the law has no teeth, there are no consequences.

1Wanda1 Sun 25-Mar-18 21:42:30

Yes I said that 7s would be fine for him - in general. But I don't think that a 7 at GCSE js a good foundation for maths or physics A level. Everyone I know who's done those subjects, or whose DC have, say how hard they are even if you get an A at GCSE.

I think the idea of "home schooling" makes a good sound bite but question whether any one would ACTUALLY do this IRL. For a start, I work full time. I wouldn't be at home to police what he was doing.

BarbarianMum Sun 25-Mar-18 22:30:51

Well I'm not saying you should do it, that's up to you. But yes, dh and I really, really would do it (pull slacking child out of school). The idea that making the most of educational opportunities is something that a child needs to be coaxed/cajoled/forced to do is a total anathema to me. Equally there's no shame in an honest day's work, whatever the pay grade. The choice is their's.

Theworldisfullofidiots Mon 26-Mar-18 11:50:27

My friends dd didn't get the university she wanted as one of her gcse results was below what was needed. That has massively focussed my kids. That and knowing if they want to work abroad or emigrate , they need a good education.

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