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Year 12 and struggling-tutoring

(37 Posts)
MarshalTheTroops Thu 17-Nov-16 12:31:45

Dd is in year 12 taking maths, physics and chemistry. She got As in all 3 at GCSE without too much exertion. She has always been poorly organised.
She is really struggling at A level. She is used to doing the bare minimum and just doesn't appear to know how to study independently. She has also decided she is just not clever enough.
I was chatting to one of her friends who is at a different grammar school and she said that the majority of her class have tutors for science subjects.
If your child is at an 'outstanding'or grammar school or you teach at one, do you think tutoring is common?

noblegiraffe Thu 17-Nov-16 22:53:39

I can only really talk about maths, however with an A at GCSE she will struggle at A-level and probably fail by the end of Y12 if she doesn't pull her finger out and start doing more than the bare minimum. She needs a kick up the backside, and only when she is actually studying would I consider getting her a tutor. Otherwise the danger is that she will think that she doesn't need to study because she now has a tutor and with an hour's tuition per week she will surely pass. I've seen it before - the tutor helps with homework so the teachers are placated then the student crashes and burns when they actually have to sit a test of their own knowledge.

She should be doing a bare minimum of an hour's studying for every hour that she spends in lessons. Homework is only the start of it. For maths there are a billion websites and resources out there that she can be using to tackle weak areas. For example has videos for any topic she could possibly be struggling with. has worksheets, solutions and resources. If she doesn't know how to study independently, then those websites would be a good start.

NicknameUsed Thu 17-Nov-16 23:02:48

Watching with interest. DD got A*s at GCSE in 3 of her A level subjects and is finding the extra workload overwhelming. She had to work to achieve the A*, but finds it difficult to be motivated most of the time.

She is also taking psychology which she regrets and is going to give it up as soon as she can.

GnomeDePlume Fri 18-Nov-16 09:12:10

DD is at the opposite of a successful school (back in Special Measures again). She is in Y12 studying maths, further maths, physics and chemistry.

The following is her take on the work:

Your DD needs to learn independent study techniques:

- go through the text book(s) make notes from the text book and use these as the primary learning source and the teachers as an additional source

- prepare for lessons in advance, find out which scheme the teachers are using (whose powerpoints they are using) and research that in advance of each lesson - not in depth but have got a heads up in advance

- after each lesson make a flash card of what was actually the key point of the lesson. The 'essential oil' of that lesson. Makes subsequent revision a lot less daunting.

- past papers - read the mark schemes, know what examiners are looking for. Dont take the teachers word as gospel!

- make study friends - use facebook group chat etc. DD has separate study groups for Physics and Chemistry

- dont do too many subjects. Do not put any effort into things like General Studies or EPQ. Put no effort into any filler subjects done because the school was pushing 5 A levels (DD's school was trying to push 5 or even 6 A levels)

- tests: your teacher is trying to find out the best way to keep you on the course (by finding the gaps) not looking to push you off the course - unless you arent putting the effort in/attending

- be selfish, these 2 years are about getting where you want to be (apprenticeship/uni/work)

- play 'the future game': what does your DD want to do next? Encourage her to look at unis and courses. What would it be like doing that course, living there. This is a good visualisation technique, makes the future seem more real.

- set aside free time to do something different. This will help to make study more effective.

- do some exercise (DD is the least sporty person in the world but this was her own suggestion)

- study in bursts, DD does 20 minutes on 5 minutes off. She uses the kitchen timer for this

Your DD can turn this around but she does need to get onto it now. A tutor wont work miracles. If you do go down the tutor route use that tutor to recover the lost ground from this first term and then to teach good study methods.

TenaciousOne Fri 18-Nov-16 09:52:23

Tutoring is common in many different schools. It sounds more likely she needs help with being organised.

MarshalTheTroops Fri 18-Nov-16 11:44:05

Thank you so much for all your replies.

Noblegiraffe- thank you for the websites, they are exactly what she needs. I am completely on your wavelength re independent studying before tutoring.

GnomeDePlume- sounds like your daughter has just the right attitude, wondering if this can be encouraged/taught.

Thinking back to my A level days (before computers) I think A levels were much more 'spoon fed', I had 1 textbook /past papers for maths, i don't think photocopied sheets were that common. I think I would struggle in the same way as my daughter today.

Parents evening last night and the teachers were a breath of fresh air. She is on target for her expected grades but they made her aware that they know she is capable of more, and that they can tell she is not studying. It had the required effect- she came home and prepared for the following days physics lesson.

So, I'll show her Gnome de Plumes plan, and discuss how she could make it work for her. i'm all for work/life balance, my husband is more of a lock them up and throw away the key/anything under an A is a fail type- so discussions at home are always entertaining!

catslife Fri 18-Nov-16 12:18:18

In addition to Gnomes list.
If your dd still doesn't understand something after doing background reading etc. then the first port of call is to ask the teacher. It can be difficult for a pupil who is used to doing well to admit they don't understand, but if they want to improve then that is important. Knowing what they don't know is the first step to solving the problem.
Some of the Science textbooks are a bit dry and difficult to understand imo. Usually there is an "official" exam board approved one, but if this is unclear then try a different one or supplement by doing your own research on the internet.
Unfortunately with some selective schools, pupils are tutored to pass the entrance exam and then they become dependent on this tutoring to keep up throughout their education so I can believe that many pupils could have tutors.
Agree that other strategies should be tried first though.

GnomeDePlume Fri 18-Nov-16 12:30:09

MarshalTheTroops I think it can be learnt. DD is benefiting in that she is the youngest so has seen especially older sister go through similar A levels.

The particular lesson which DD2 learnt was seeing her sister crying bitter tears after AS level results when she (DD1) knew she could have done so much better if she had put the work in. This was the wake-up call for both girls.

It isnt so much about working hard but working smart.

The subjects your DD is doing are all about comprehension. If she did well at GCSE without having to work hard then it sounds like she does understand the subjects. Now all she needs to do is start applying that.

Good luck!

SarahA215 Fri 18-Nov-16 12:40:22

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

NicknameUsed Fri 18-Nov-16 16:00:40

Some great advice Gnome. DD had yet another meltdown after school. She needs more time for something to sink in, and the teachers go too fast for her, especially in chemistry.

She doesn't want to give up a subject now because she is afraid of making the wrong decision, but she is really struggling with the workload of 4 A level subjects.

Rosieposy4 Fri 18-Nov-16 21:19:14

There are two main reasons why students think teachers go too fast in lessons ( of course the pace is pretty brisk, it needs to be to get through the spec) and they are both related
They are doing no/ insufficient independent study
Or no pre reading so when each topic is introduced it is totally new to them.

NicknameUsed Fri 18-Nov-16 22:43:18

DD says that the teachers haven't suggested reading up on a topic before a lesson. Her problem is that she gets so much homework that she does have time to pre read or make after lesson notes. She is so tired all the time and often falls asleep when she gets home from school. She had 16 pieces of homework over half term.

Her boyfriend is doing different subjects from her and has half the amount of homework this weekend that she has.

NicknameUsed Fri 18-Nov-16 22:52:11

She does not have time to read about a topic before a lesson. Also the teachers don't always tell them what is coming up, so she can't prepare.

GnomeDePlume Sat 19-Nov-16 08:26:32

Which subjects is she studying NicknameUsed? I can see one of them is psychology.

GnomeDePlume Sat 19-Nov-16 08:29:42

I have DD1 here as well this weekend so have a broader range of subjects/personalities/schools to interrogate wink

NicknameUsed Sat 19-Nov-16 08:38:49

Chemistry, biology and geography. She is fine with geography, OK with biology and struggling with chemistry.

I went out last night and came home to her feeling despondent because she had stared at her homework all evening and not done a thing.

She has to do quite a lot of online research for some of her homeworks, so removing all technology isn't always an option.

I have pointed out to her ad nauseum that trying to work with distractions doesn't work, and all she says is "I know mum" and then continues to do a chemistry paper while watching Gogglebox or You Tube.

I can control this while I am in the house, but I shouldn't have to as this doesn't encourage independent study.

The thing is she isn't failing any of her subjects, but to her, getting Cs in a subject isn't good enough.

At the end of the day she does get all her homework finished on time, but she isn't working efficiently enough and takes hours to do a piece of homework that should only take one hour.

I just don't know how she can motivate herself to work more efficiently, or how I can get her to do this.

She knows perfectly well she would have more down time if she just got on with her work in a more organised manner.

Tears hair out.

NicknameUsed Sat 19-Nov-16 08:39:28

Sorry for hijacking your thread Marshall.

GnomeDePlume Sat 19-Nov-16 10:26:57

She can drop a subject. Independent study isn't just about reading around the subject it's about taking ownership of and responsibility for the whole thing. She should only keep going with four subjects if she is enjoying them and will get good grades. Flogging a dead horse risks bringing down the subjects she is good at. 3 Bs will be far better than 4 Ds.

So, which subject to drop? Geography, biology and psychology make a nice cohesive group. They tend towards the humanities end of science. Alternatively geography, biology and chemistry pull towards a more definitely scientific route.

Play the future game.

Oh and as a biologist she must understand that she can't study by osmosis. Being in the same room as open books is not the same as actually studying.

Has she tried the 20 minute burst approach? 20 minutes of hard study followed by 5 minutes of YouTube? Use a timer for this.

NicknameUsed Sat 19-Nov-16 10:47:13

I have insisted she does this today. I have insisted she does this in the past, but you can lead a horse to water etc.

She is looking at the future BTW and wants to go down a medical route, not a doctor but maybe research. But is struggling to find the motivation to work. I have tried backing off, but then she does nothing and then gets upset with herself for procrastinating.

Every time she succeeds because she worked for something, or fails because she didn't the penny never drops. Aargh!

GnomeDePlume Sun 20-Nov-16 09:27:15

NicknameUsed how did your DD get on?

NicknameUsed Sun 20-Nov-16 09:52:33

She found the 20 minute on with 5 minutes off unhelpful for doing homework, because once she got into her stride she didn't want to stop. She isn't disciplined enough to do the 20:5 either. She got through quite a lot yesterday though, but still has loads to do today.

I should add that she isn't enjoying great health at the moment and is battling constant headaches and tiredness all the time, which doesn't help.

I think the 20:5 might be more useful when revising.

Thanks for all your help though.

GnomeDePlume Sun 20-Nov-16 10:54:44

That's fair enough. I am glad she was able to get some focus. Learning to manage energy levels is also an important skill.

NicknameUsed Sun 20-Nov-16 11:26:07

One homework completed so far today.

itshappenedagain Sun 20-Nov-16 11:39:49

I teach a level (chemistry and physics) and at this stage a few student have started looking at getting a tutor.
I agree that your dd needs to get a routine for what she is studying and allocating time for each, but I would speak to school about her attending study skills lessons too. As like pp have said if she doesn't know how to she won't be able to. Also she will have required core skills to complete to enable her to pass and these can take time to write up.

NicknameUsed Sun 20-Nov-16 13:04:41

Interestingly she likes chemistry because it is interesting. She just finds it difficult. Currently she isn't failing, she is getting Cs not the As she was getting at GCSE.

She adamant that doesn't want a tutor at the moment. I think she realises that she needs to do this herself, so part of this is pride. The thing is that when she does understand the topic she is fine. She finds that she has concentration problems and she can't always summon up the concentration when necessary.

I appreciate the comments, and sorry again for hijacking the thread.

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