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Bright teen falling massively behind coming up to GCSEs - to get involved or butt out?

(32 Posts)
nonnomnom Fri 27-Nov-15 20:30:31

Yes, that old one.

DD who should be getting all As-A*s is on course for Bs, Cs and Ds. She needs 6 Bs to get into her sixth form, which she may well not get, but has made no other plans as assumed she would get that easily. She's Oxbridge material (I went there and she's as brighter than me) and had said she didn't want to go there but would rather go to a nice (ie Russell Group) uni elsewhere, assuming blithely that that was an 'easy' alternative - when in reality with the grades she's now on course to get she wouldn't stand a chance with any Russell Group unis. Plus if she doesn't get As in certain subjects at GCSE, even if she does get into the sixth form she she won't be able to do any of the A Levels she wants anyway and will be left with PE etc (it's an academic school so they don't really offer any alternatives to an academic route eg BTECS etc.

She's just discovered a social life and boys, which doesn't help, but was hopelessly disorganised before that. She seems to think you can do the work for GCSEs the night before an exam and get an A* - doesn't seem to understand it doesn't work like that (esp where coursework is concerned).

Help! Am cross and my natural tendency is to tell her off for failing to put any effort in and make her sit down and do 2-3 hour stints of homework under my eye a night, until her exams. But that goes against my principles, which to date have been to assume it's her responsibility (which is how she got into this mess). No way she's going to achieve what she's capable of with the huge gaps in her work but would be nice if she could come out with enough to get her into the 6th form at least and the opportunity to do the A Levels of her choice.

So should I leave her to sort it out unaided? Offer support if wanted and healthy snacks (forgot to say she's largely stopped eating or eats random crap)? Organise her life for her?

Please tell me what to do - can't think clearly.

Bunbaker Fri 27-Nov-15 20:47:39

I wish I knew the answer. I have similar problems with an unmotivated DD.

tomatotoad Fri 27-Nov-15 20:51:53

I would do her a timetable and make sure that she sticks to it.

Gobbolinothewitchscat Fri 27-Nov-15 20:56:54

I have 3 under 3 so no experience of homework at the moment.

However, I will be completely unprincipled when it comes to this kind of thing and they'll be sitting down doing the bloody work whether they like it or not. If they don't do the work, they can still sit at a desk bored. There's no way the alternative is to watch TV or look at an iPad.

I will also be ensuring that they have work experience doing the hardest and most unfairly low paid work going. I did 12 hour night shifts working in a computer factory to save up to go travelling. You weren't allowed to sit down and had to out your hand up to go to the loo a only allowed once per shift outside breaks. Totally demeaning. That was for NMW - although time and a half for night shift

The people I worked with were lovely. I didn't say I was at uni for 2 months until they sorted of worked it out. They could not have been more encouraging and told me constantly how lucky I was to have the opportunity. I dint know how they didn't drop down dead with fatigue - some people had been there for years. They really earned their money.

FreeWorker1 Fri 27-Nov-15 20:57:40

Somewhat similar problems with DS1. Didn't do well in his end of year exams in year 10. Just didn't revise enough despite being reminded. Just thought 2 weeks was enough to revise for 10 subjects! He is very bright and definitely Oxbridge material as his teachers know - but all say he wasn't working hard enough.

We discovered he had absolutely no idea what revising how or what to revise and for how long.

We sat him down and gave him a framework and helped him put together a revision timetable. Bought him all the exam revision guides and showed him how to organise himself systematically.

He is now gearing up for his GCSE mocks. Helped him put his revision timetable together on Sunday and is spending 1 hour per night in the week plus 2 each day at the weekend and will step that up in the holidays. He did most of it we just guided him.

It is possible to get them on track. If DD has gaps in her notes get the exam guides for each GCSE (check the exam board) and sit down with her. Sometimes I think DS1 was just overwhelmed and didn't know where to start. I also think there is a bit of 'fear of growing up' that makes them bury their heads.

Just got his latest school report and all his teachers saying he has definitely stepped up a gear.

FreeWorker1 Fri 27-Nov-15 20:59:09

Oh and ban screens of all kinds from bedrooms at all times and especially at times they are supposed to be revising and doing homework.

ladygracie Fri 27-Nov-15 21:00:24

What year is she? If she's Year 11 then won't she have mocks soon? Failing those (or even just the feeling of not knowing enough in the exam) might be a good enough kick for her to start revising & working. Is that likely at all?

yeOldeTrout Fri 27-Nov-15 21:00:39

Would she even let you organise her life for her?

Do very bright people have to go Oxford? Is it some kind of failure if they don't?

I reckon that if she wanted Uni/RG/Oxbridge then she would work for it. It's because that isn't really what she wants that she isn't working/organised.

SevenSeconds Fri 27-Nov-15 21:03:16

Well, you've tried the "leave it up to her" tactic and it hasn't worked so far. Maybe time to get tougher? What does she say when you discuss it with her?

FreeWorker1 Fri 27-Nov-15 21:07:17

Suspect there might be a bit of 'Oh Gawd!. Mum went to Oxford. What if I fail? Oh I'll just plan to do enough to get to a Russel group and tell her I won't be doing OXBRIDGE. Then I cant fail"

Basically she is burying her head hoping it all goes away.

Maybe telling her she is loved for herself and Oxford doesn't matter but doing enough to get where SHE wants is the most important thing. Making sure she has the option to do what SHE wants - not what you want.

DaftVader36 Fri 27-Nov-15 21:12:14

I would:

Agree to pay her for her results (£20 for an A, £10 for a B, whatever)

Speak to her school and ask them to make her have an appointment with head of 6th, where s/he tells her whether she will or won't get into sixth form based on current performance. But I would get a teacher that she likes / trusts to go into this meeting with her, so that they can help her work with the feedback she is given (which means head of 6th can be as strict as needed, and doesnt need to soften the blows, as Tutor can be the good cop).

I was a pain in the arse at 6th form. I wish someone had been able to make me see sense. I made it to a RG uni, and all turned out well. But I was a stroppy pita as a 16yr old.

nonnomnom Fri 27-Nov-15 21:25:06

Thanks, really really useful.

Gobbolino - your advice is really good and I think as soon as she hits 16 (end of Jan) I'm going to try to help her get a part time job because although it will take time away from study it will let her see what the point of studying is.

Freeworker - thanks for inspiring me and glad it seems to be working out for your ds. I think there almost certainly is an element of being worried about not achieving what I did - although I've always pointed out I achieved that not by genius but by bloody hard work. I'm doing an MA now and she see how hard I'm working so it's not like she can look at me and think I managed it by effortless brilliance looking at books the night before!

I have been trying to tell her to do what she wants but don't think she has a clue what that is. She has seen us struggling financially despite our education as poor public sector workers not lawyers etc, so her most recent ambition is to go for a job that just pays a lot. Which is fine. But she doesn't seem to get that there is huuuge competition for well-paying jobs that will go to the kids who got the good grades and went to the good unis.

Other than that her 'ambition' is to marry a rich man and have babies. Ouch.

nonnomnom Fri 27-Nov-15 21:26:42

Daft - have thought about bribing her to do well. Totally goes against ALL my oft-stated principles and she knows it. But she is so stubborn and won't talk or listen to reason.

ladygracie Fri 27-Nov-15 23:46:09

So has she done her mocks?

SecretSquirrels Sat 28-Nov-15 12:05:01

No don't "butt out". I often see threads like this where posters cry "let them fail" but I disagree.It's far too important. GCSEs are to be frank, the easy part. A bright child should get good grades without flogging themselves. A levels require more work even for the more able if they are to get the top grades required for competitive unis. Have a look at some of the Year 12, Y13 and Higher Ed threads.

Never mind your principles didn't they all go by the wayside for all of us when we had babies?
Carrot and stick. Bribe and threaten. Do what it takes.

Bunbaker Sat 28-Nov-15 12:13:37

I had a lot of "let her fail" posts on my thread of a similar vein. Personally I don't find that helpful at all.

yeOldeTrout Sat 28-Nov-15 12:24:09

I need a translator to read all MN posts for me. Example, when someone writes

"So should I leave her to sort it out unaided?" I need the translator to explain that really means "I want you all to make me feel good for not letting her sort it out unaided and I reserve the right to get annoyed about anybody saying anything else."

It's a waste of time for me, too, to reply as though the OP was ever actually open-minded.

caringdad66 Sat 28-Nov-15 14:26:23

Failing GCSE's or not getting the expected grades is not the ' end of the world'
For many children the ' penny doesn't drop', until later in life.
Education is a life long journey.

Shockers Sat 28-Nov-15 14:32:29

After a similar scenario was revealed at parents' eve, we have drawn up a revision timetable together. I also found an English tutor to help with exam technique, as DS's teachers all said that his performance in the classroom was not reflected in his test scores. He enjoys these lessons, which he shares with a friend, and says he finds them useful.

However, we are keeping it low key other than that. I don't want him to feel stressed, just motivated.

GloriaHotcakes Sat 28-Nov-15 14:32:51

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Indiana50 Sun 29-Nov-15 18:13:05

Mine did next to no revision for his GCSEs, came out with 9 A-C, failed Art, because he couldn't be bothered. It's her job to keep her options open. If you don't say anything, and let her fail, you might want to kick yourself on results day too. 45 mins per night would be a good habit to get into at this stage, and 45 mins more than mine did. We spent a lot of time discussing what he should be doing, and the lesson is that you can't force them to study.

DaftVader36 Sun 29-Nov-15 20:59:01

I got into bad habits at GCSEs. Breezed through, 11 a* to B without even thinking, and then just got ordinary A levels (bbc) because I had a panic in one exam and nearly flunked it, and only managed the otherBs because they were modular and I could resit.

It did make me buck up my ideas at Uni. So I learned my lesson. But I do wish I had tried at a level....

Bunbaker Sun 29-Nov-15 21:08:15

How have we come to thinking that two Bs and a C at A level is a poor result?

I took A levels in 1977. I would have been thrilled to get those grades.

Hedgehoginthegarden Mon 30-Nov-15 23:03:15

Well I wish I knew what the answer was. I had an awful time with dd this year over just the same thing. She did next to no revision at home for GCSE's. I tried everything but in the end you really can't force them to work. Luckily they did a fair amount of revision at school and she did get a good set of results. The stress of it all nearly finished me off though!

Also depends what the kid is like and whether she will allow you to manage her study and tell her what to do. Mine wouldn't but I tried. And now its happening again with AS levels but I am really trying to step back this time as she is old enough to take responsibility

Good luck.

stayathomegardener Mon 30-Nov-15 23:20:38

DD finished GCSE's last year, so feel quite qualified here, my advice is to buy your DD all the subject guides, make a revision timetable and then pick two subjects to work with her over the christmas holidays ready for her mocks in the New year.
Three things should happen, one she will get fab results in those two subjects and enjoy the recognition from teachers, parents etc. Two she should hardly need to revise those two subjects again.And three she will have the skills to use the revision books on the other subjects herself in the run up to the real thing.

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