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son doing bare minimum for A levels - told he will fail if he doesn't work harder - he doesn't seem to care

(100 Posts)
bargainmad Thu 26-Jan-12 19:30:33

My son did the bare minimum for his GCSEs also but scraped through to get enough to do A levels. Trying to get him to revise was like starting world war III but I persevered.

I have laid off a bit since he started sixth form college in September and as a consequence he never opens his bag. He has done very little homework at home and says he is doing it a college.

He started off doing 4 A levels,Eng lang & lit, sociology,media studies and law.

He dropped media studies after a month and then dropped law as it was too difficult. He is now doing BTEC law instead so compared to others he is not overburdened with work.

It was parents evening last night and his teachers said he is very bright but coasts along which is the same old story we have had over the years.

His sociology teacher said he won't get anywhere (university or employment) with 2 Ds (or even Es) as there will be more competition than ever next year so he really needs to get a work ethic.

I was absolutely fuming when I got home after work this evening and asked him what he was going to do when he failed his A levels. He just told me to stop hassling him and that he was working.

I don't feel like giving him any pocket money any more until I see proof that he is at least doing some college work even if just Monday - Thursday.

And then he's asking about festivals - I can' see me funding this with him doing extremely little at college.

I know teenage boys are very lazy but it drives me mental - am I being unfair to stop the pocket money?

I have warned him that our financial obligations to him will end next June when he is 18 and he had better prepare himself.

I'm a bit surprised that he is getting pocket money to be honest! He's A level age..he should be earning his own or doing without! (and yes you CAN study and work..no matter what some teens like to say:D)

Yup I'd stop that, and as for forking out for festivals... again,., best he looks for a job. At £200 a ticket for the big ones that's a big ask. My older 3 all went last year (aged 19,17,16) and they saved from their p/t jobs.

Is there ANY way you can get it through to him that this is it? If he fails his A levels , or gets crap grades he won't be going to uni, and life at home with no money isn't much fun?

FWIW I think a LOT of yr 12 students get a BIG shock at the end of AS levels. Those who cruise thro GCSEs (I had two of those as well as one BONE idle one!) are unprepared for the big step up to A level. Both my DDs found it a shock and had to really step up a gear.. DD2 has just resit one of her AS's because she did badly last summer, which came as a shock, and she has really had to work very hard to get back to where she should be.

However... might cheer you up to tell you my DD1 was told she would certainly fail Biology A level, at the Feb parent's evening in yr 12. She went on to get an A* (and A in others ) and is now at med school. grin so sometimes kids can beat the predictions!

Honestly all you can do is grit your teeth, encourage, and hope he pulls his finger out. Maybe you could dangle the incentive of festival ticket money in front of him... but for that he would have to have tangible improvement..confirmed by the teachers? My kids teachers were very happy for me to check in with them if/when I was concerned.

I feel your pain , it's soooo frustrating, when you KNOW they can do well but won't...

thislookslikeaninterestingread Thu 26-Jan-12 22:19:12

"he is very bright but coasts along which is the same old story we have had over the years."

So you've been rewarding him all this time by paying him to continue his behavior..... hardly an incentive to improve is it?

thenightsky Thu 26-Jan-12 23:41:12

Been there, got the t-shirt. DS had to re-sit A levels to get the grades to make uni. Now he is 2nd year at uni, he's just as bad and is going to have come home and restart his 2nd year again in October. He is so far behind he can never catch up without doing this.

Sorry... no answers really OP. Just sympathy sad

gingeroots Fri 27-Jan-12 09:25:44

Another offering sympathy here .
DS seems to do the absolute minimum he can get away with .
I have no idea what to do about it .
Sometimes I cheer myself up by thinking that not everyone ( even though they have the ability ) is cut out for academic study .
And at uni level ,really that's all they've known .
Years and years of it ,nothing else .

SoupDragon Fri 27-Jan-12 09:27:45

Get him job experience with a rubbish collection round or something equally revolting.

mrsjay Fri 27-Jan-12 09:41:28

stop funding him stop letting him coast and get him to get a bloody job to fund his festival tickets , I know it sounds harsh but hes needs to see reality that it all isnt going to land on his lap and he needs to work for results in life , exams festivals etc etc ,
He has got comfy with his life and doesnt see he needs to do anything
, Im saying all this because i let dd1 away with all this a few years ago , I learned the hard way ,( although i didnt pay for concerts ,) you can do this its not easy, he will kick and scream and stomp about it being unfair and he may even hate you , but he needs to grow up and take responsibility for himself ,

HighNoon Fri 27-Jan-12 12:49:43

Not an uncommon problem it seems - have experienced similar and know just how flippin frustrating it is!

I agree with others - festival tickets are a want not a need. There's no reason for you to buy these, especially when you're being driven mental (totally get that!)

What I am trying to do myself is ... back off and give them the space to sort it out themselves. Homework? Between them and school. I've cut any allowance to the amount needed for travel and lunch. A job will be needed to fill spending gap.

A disclaimer ... this approach fills me with absolute terror! It's contrary to everything I've done to date where as the parent, I have provided, chosen schools, taken them to this club or that, encouraged this behaviour, discouraged that - in general taken the decisions and sorted things out.

We're not helped by the current environment which places academic success above everything. I was pretty good at school, and was amazed when my friends said "Oh I'm not academic!" I thought what do you mean? You're really clever. I can see now that "academic" and "clever" can be mutually exclusive, some people just don't get on with fancy book learning. Reassuringly my friends all lead happy and useful wink (and in one case, very profitable) lives.

What I tell myself is that I have provided every opportunity for them to succeed at school. Whether they take it or not is out of my control (unthinkable, but apparently true!)

If your son is bright he will find a way, just maybe not at university, or maybe not at uni just yet. At least he will have saved the fees.

Ah - how easy it is to give advice and how hard to take it yourself!!

bargainmad Fri 27-Jan-12 13:59:36

The problem is if I back off he does absolutely nothing as he has proved over the last few months. I can back off completely but I have decided that will mean no money whatsoever for him because I just can't tolerate him being so bone idle.

He gets around £5 on a Friday night and £5 on a Saturday night and that's his limit - he seems quite happy with this and has no intention of getting a part time job as none of his friends have one.

He certainly will not be given the money for a festival but it he will probably use his birthday money for it in June and that means no new clothes which is what he usually spends his money on.

It doesn't help that he doesn't do any sports or activities and when he goes out he is spending his money on alcohol and I know some of his friends smoke cannabis.

I keep on saying to him have you read the papers and watched the news about massive youth unemployment but he thinks because he scraped by with his GCSEs he will do the same with his A levels.

He is just about covering his homework but the teachers expect him to be working independently at home also - he just doesn't get this - he is probably very glad I have laid off since he started college but after parents evening I think I may have to insist he does an hour's work every evening at the kitchen table.

My 13 old does this - that is a condition of him having a phone, x-box, ipad etc and he sticks to it most of the time as he values everything he has.

mrsjay Fri 27-Jan-12 15:20:51

bargainmad i wonder if you could turn it around then maybe bribe well give him an incentive to work harder , maybe flash a festival ticket under his nose and if he does well you will gladly pay for it , ? we told dd1 we would help her get a car if she got a job , she had been trying yeah right from when she was 16 within 3 weeks she had a job ,

moretolifethanthis Mon 06-Feb-12 11:46:17

Bargainmad how i feel your pain. I have just had an email from my son's psychology AS teacher saying he isn't putting much effort into his course. His latest assignment grades are D,E and U (getting worse even after his assurances he would work harder). I'm afraid his other subject grades will be the same story. And he dropped maths to focus more on the other three. I encouraged him to drop out and do an apprenticeship with an Ecommerce company and an IT course running alonside it. He applied, went to the assessment centre then the next day said he had decided Alevels were his route. Then I get this Email sad I'm so worried he will be on benefits and be a drop out due to his lack of discipline in life. And no, he doesn't have much life outside of school other than his warm bed, xbox and computer. I'm having problems getting a job myself which he knows about and we constantly discuss how competitive the job scene is but he won't face it. I think he thinks i'm being harsh as he is 'only' sixteen. If I get a solution to our problem I will certainly pass it on. All the best.

gingeroots Mon 06-Feb-12 20:41:50

It's ghastly isn't it moretolife ?
I'm endlessly beside myself about my son's lack of drive .
But I can't force him - believe me I've tried .

IDK Mon 06-Feb-12 21:01:56

I feel your pain because I have one the same.

I tried bribery with a festival ticket last year for GCSEs but it didn't really work. Results come out too late in the festival season for the ticket to be a reward for achievement; it must be a reward for effort. If a festival is any good tickets tend to go quickly so you have to buy it in the spring and threaten not to hand it over unless they work. But they know that you have already shelled out and aren't likely to withhold it when the time comes so it is no incentive.

I stopped his money at the beginning of sixth form, hoping that he would find a job. He hasn't done and now I worry where his money comes from. I think it is birthday and Xmas money. I hope so.sad

MrsJAlfredPrufrock Wed 08-Feb-12 13:03:15

No No No

You are all doing it all wrong grin. You need to supervise his homework: 2 hours each night in a room downstairs with the door open, no distractions. Just his books.

It will eventually become a habit as he gets good feedback from achieving.

dreamingofsun Wed 08-Feb-12 13:19:21

mrsja - have you tried forcing a 17 year old into a room to do his homework for 2 hours? i'd like to think we are a bulk standard family with decent kids, but i know my lazy one would not do this.

I have asked the school for help 3 times. The first 2 times they agreed to do things and then did nothing. this time they have agreed to supervise him during his free periods and he's agreed to this. though i'm yet to see this happen (due to school not my son).

have you asked the school for help?

i watch this thread with interest

dreamingofsun Wed 08-Feb-12 13:21:39

ps - i'm not sure that getting a PT job is the answer - normally i'm all for this but it uses up time when they could be studying. the one good thing is that if they keep getting rejected and can't get a job it might focus their minds and also filling the form in started to show my son how inadequate his qualifications are (I hope)

MrsJAlfredPrufrock Wed 08-Feb-12 13:31:31

Dreamingofsun- it's a bit rich to be unable to supervise your own child's homework but expect the school to do so.

Either let them fail and own their own failure, or supervise the work yourself . Getting a job/ cleaning karzis etc just gives them an excuse as to why they failed.

dreamingofsun Wed 08-Feb-12 13:37:22

mrsj - do you mind me asking what age your children are? I imagine they must be of a slightly different temperament to mine. personally i think part of a teachers job is to motivate children and where they have dismally failed to do this - in the cause of one of my children - think its not unreasonable for help. they suggested supervising him in free periods. at the end of the day children who go to grammar schools and private schools have a lot more pressure on them to do well and this is whats been missing from my son's school - he just coasts in the middle

moretolifethanthis Wed 08-Feb-12 13:40:39

MrsJA, my son comes home and says he does his homework at school so it would just be a matter of revision to do at home however I cannot access his books without delving in his bag. I have spoken to his Head of year and discussed the fact that I feel he doesn't have enough homework and he finds it hard to just read the text books without any structured questions to guide him. Btw, I thanked his psychology teacher for her concern and asked for future updates disclosing this information to my son. She agreed to. He has gone in to school today to re-sit that exam where he only gained a 'U'. I started the revision rolling last night by asking questions from the internet and he then retired to his room to study further-i'll let you know how he got on! Meanwhile, I asked his other teachers a week ago if they would contact me as I had concerns - they have yet to do so (this is a Grammar school too!).
BTW, my son said that the reason he didn't do well in the last test was due to him staying up all night counselling a friend who is going through a really tough time at the moment. It doesn't make up for his bad grades in the past however!

Littlefish Wed 08-Feb-12 13:50:50

In spite of being very capable, I did the bare minimum for my A levels. I managed to scrape a grade E in art. Luckily, a year later, I managed to get a place at one of the major music colleges to study music, in spite of my results.

When I was 28 I decided to go back to university and re-train. In order to do this I had to go back to evening classes and get better results.

I then went to university and ended up getting a 2:1.

I suppose I'm saying that although it's very frustrating for you, it may not be disastrous in the long run. My parents tore their hair out at the time, but in the end, they left me to it, and I had to live with the consequences. At the time, this meant watching all my friends go off to college and university while I had to get a job. My parents made it clear that they were not going to support me (beyond letting me live at home). I had to pay a set amount each month for food and bills so I definitely had to get a job.

What do I do now? Well, I'm sure to the horror of many of you, I'm a successful teacher. In the past I have been deputy head of a primary school too. When the was something I wanted to do, I knuckled down and studied hard. It just wasn't important to me at 18 though.

MoreBeta Wed 08-Feb-12 13:56:24

He definitley needs a job to earn his own money.

It will give him a sense of becoming a real adult who pays his own way rather than depending on his parents for money. It will give him a sense of what the world of low paid work is about and perhaps give him an incentive to work at getting some qualifications. It will give him a chance perhaps to be with adults who might talk to him and give him a sense of what he might wantto do with his lif ein future.

My nephew is exactly the same. Crying shame of it is he is so intelligent. I mean super intelligent and also very personable with it. Just simply will not work or even bother turning up to his A level exams. My sister (his Mum) just indulges him and he sits at home.

dreamingofsun Wed 08-Feb-12 14:00:05

littlefish - thankyou for your post. this is the conclusion i have come to ref 1 of my kids. if the child is not willing i think there is only a certain amount you can do to make them work till they are ready. to be honest you sound like you would be a good teacher as you would have more empathy with bright but lazy kids.

dreamingofsun Wed 08-Feb-12 14:01:50

if he gets a job you will have no chance of using money as a form of incentive or punishment. he will also feel fairly well off, even if its only min wage.

Ladymuck Wed 08-Feb-12 14:07:43

So if he gets £10 a week, does he pay for his phone out of this as well? Clothes too?

I guess £40 per month is still a hefty enough allowance, but if he has lots of other toys as well then he may not understand the realities of living on JSA/minimum wage.

MrsJAlfredPrufrock Wed 08-Feb-12 14:18:43

My sons are 19, 16 and 4.

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