Friday, 19 April 2013

Year 10 Revision and trying to help my teenage son.

Having been quite frustrated with my 15 year old son for a while I have taken the bull by the horns.

To give you some background I have to tell you that my son is absolutely wonderful! He is good and kind. He is loving and a real home body who would rather be with us than out and about with his mates in town. He reminds me of myself in so many ways ... we are very similar ... content with our own company, but happy with our friends too.

Recently he has shown signs of teenagerdom and can answer back with the best of them. But he always thinks about his behaviour and although we might have a row he will always apologise  without prompting. All in all we are very lucky to have him!!

However ... his school work has started to be of a concern recently.He has started to show cracks in his otherwise A Grade school career. We have tried to get him to revise for upcoming exams, but he has not done nearly as much as he should have done. He seemed really rather lost and without focus.

I was beginning to really worry. After all, whatever his potential I want him to achieve it, to the the best he can.

Yesterday I had a moment of clarity, of realisation. I realised that he is afraid. He is afraid to fail, awed by the vastness of what lies before him and this fear has made him think 2 things :

a) I just don't know where to start, how to begin, because there is so much to do.

b) If I try hard and fail I will be a real failure, but if I don't try ... and fail, people will say " Oh well, he didn't try. If he had tried he would have been brilliant"

I know because that's how I have thought in the past.

So today I got up early and took his planner so I could see what lessons he had when. Then I worked out a revision timetable, a study timetable with a file for notes on what he does each day and an exercise book that I can guide him as to what to do .... things like

  • What did you cover in your lesson today ... summarise briefly.
  • Any problems?
  • Key words, formulae?
  • Go to school website and follow instructions for past paper, game, article etc
Each task had a box to tick and there were not too many tasks. At the end of each subject he could look and see that he had ticked all the boxes and actually achieved a block of work.

I also bought chocolate as an incentive and wrote at the start of his book ...
 Every journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step ...

To my joy and amazement he sat at the kitchen table and studied. He took breaks between subjects, but seemed genuinely pleased and relieved that I had done this for him. It will take up some of my time, but I hope that he will start to understand how to do it for himself and gain a real sense of achievement.

I hope I have done the right thing. I just want to support him and help him to do the best he can. He is such a lovely boy.


Suzanne Whitton said...

This is a really thought provoking post. As out kids grow up, we tend to think its about letting them decide when, where and how but on this occasion, you were astute enough to realise that he needed guidance. Well done you! He sounds like a great boy to have, my girls have been answering back since about 6 yes of age!

Pauline said...

I don't believe there is any luck in parenting. My grandmother told me we get the children we have raised. You deserve your son. And have every right to be proud.

Urban Cynic said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Urban Cynic said...

I didn't even think of suggesting to this to you & I so wish I had.

A friend of mine in his late 40's has spent the last few years doing some GCSE's and A-Levels just for the fun of it. He had some major problems with Maths (turns out he's more of a literature-type person but lesson learnt & all that) So he did the same thing.

He knew that if he thought about all the exams he had coming up then he'd buckle, so he just focused on the one he had next & worked out a timetable of studying. Then he did the same for the next one. He knew he wouldn't get such good results as his English ones but he knew he'd come too far to just give up.

You can't be good at everything, but if you break down tasks into smaller achievable chunks then you get there in the end. This is what I do with my freelancing work; I break it down, allocate time for the research & set up then allocate time for the final write-up.

This is a great lesson for him to learn as this approach will work for most big tasks he'll ever have to tackle. Well done for using your experience to think for him on this one. Brilliantly done.

PS - I deleted my first comment as I spotted some glaring errors in grammar and a typo which was unacceptable to my perfectionist nature!

sarah at secret housewife said...

Thank you so much Suzanne Pauline and Urban Cynic. It was like a flash of light when I realised what I needed to do! When I wrote my post I thought perhaps people would think I was being too contolling... too molly coddling so its lovely to have your support on this!! He is such a lovely boy and to see him quietly studying yesterday was great. Thank you for your lovely words!! Sarah xxx

Urban Cynic said...

I just read this on the Guardian website and thought of you -

Inkling said...

You are such a good mama. You saw he needed help breaking things down into manageable chunks, and you totally helped him do just that. What a gift! If I were 15, I'd ask you to adopt me too. =)

One of the things I've only recently learned is how freeing it is to have the freedom to be imperfect, and the freedom to even fail. Once I gave myself those freedoms, I discovered that failure and imperfection were not fatal. It was easier to pick up and begin again. You are totally helping him do that.

sarah at secret housewife said...

Thank you Urban Cynic and Inkling! I have looked at that article and the man is amazing! I would love to do something similar for primary school children!
Inkling I would adopt you any time!! Thank you for your kind words!