Have you ever stared down the barrel of a pile of ironing taller than you are, and seriously considered just throwing it away and seeing if anyone notices? That’s how your teenager feels about revision.
Ever started a diet with great intentions, only to end up a week later, sat on the sofa licking Dorito dust off your fingers so that you can prise the lid off the tub of ice cream? I go back to the junk food because it’s easier than rabbit food and sweating. I don’t like to feel unfit, and I only notice I’m unfit when I try to exercise.
Your child doesn’t like to feel stupid, and they only feel stupid when faced with a page of facts to learn about a concept they don’t really understand. So they go back to the Xbox.
We as parents don’t like to feel helpless, and it makes us feel like that when we don’t know how to help our child.
Luckily, there are ways to make it all feel easier. First, it’s useful to look at the overview of the whole GCSE process.
Here’s the basic timeline:
STAGE 1: PREPARING
This is the mental preparation bit. It talks about how your teenager’s brain is developing, and why they are procrastinating.
It’s about their mindset and finding their reason to put in the effort.
It’s also about how you can support them in developing their resilience and independence.
STAGE 2: ORGANISING
This is where you help them set up a structure for their revision, their notes, and their workspace.
STAGE 3: STUDYING
The nuts and bolts of studying itself. Managing their time, learning how they learn best, and avoiding distractions and overwhelm.
STAGE 4: DOING
Here’s where we talk about getting them mentally ready for mocks and then for their actual exams, including tips for what to do in those stressful weeks once exams start.
STAGE 5: WINNING
By the time you get to this stage, exams will be over.
You can all go and sun yourselves in the garden for a while, safe in the knowledge that you did everything you could. (And then you get to do it all again for post-16…. Sorry!)
Think of it like decorating a room.
You start by deciding on colours, clearing all the furniture out, and paying someone else to scrub the walls because it’s boring. You then faff around with masking tape to get straight edges and set up your roller and paintbrush and stuff.
You do the actual painting bit. It’s easy because you did all the boring prep work. You can stand in the middle of the room appreciating how fabulous a job you’ve done. Then go and pour yourself a large gin as a reward.
The stages have been refined by years of experience as a teacher, and then by the realisation that it’s totally different when you’re the parent instead.
Here’s the big secret that no-one tells you.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a total exam-passing ninja yourself, your child will not listen to YOUR advice about THEIR exams. It’s a teenager thing. ??
That’s why the Parent Guide to GCSE exists. We’re the sneaky way to get great advice to your teenager. ? Blame it all on us!
Also, most of us aren’t exam-passing ninjas, at least not any more. Lots has changed over the years since we did our own exams, and when confronted with a fronted adverbial out in the wild, most of us would panic.
We also have built in ‘things’ of our own. Teenagers don’t like to listen to advice, but boy do we LOVE to give it as parents! And when they don’t listen, what do we do? We nag. Because that’s all that’s left.
It’s scarily easy to end up in the ‘nagging loop of doom’ as a parent, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
As we say here on a daily basis:
KNOWLEDGE BEATS NAGGING!
Here are the key things that you need to know as a parent:
- Not all revision is equal. Re-reading their notes (the default setting for most teenagers) is one of the least efficient and effective ways to revise. It’ll take them longer and they’ll retain less of the information. Active revision beats passive, every time.
- If they have their own motivation to study – think ‘bigger picture’ and future goals – then you won’t have to nag. At worst, you’ll give them a gentle, coaching-style nudge back on track because you’re helping them reach their OWN goal.
- Teenage brains are still developing. Most of the stuff they do that makes you crazy is temporary. If it makes you feel better, all parents go through the phase of wondering what the heck they did wrong to create such a monster, feeling horrified at the way their teenager treats them/their siblings, and generally wanting to scream into a pillow.
- Revision is scary. It’s a huge job, and procrastination is understandable. There are ways to beat the procrastination though.
- A little bit of organisation goes a LONG way. Whether that’s their notes or their time, it makes a huge difference.
There’s plenty you can do as a parent to feel more prepared for supporting your child.
The biggest thing? Get informed.
You can follow our Facebook page for lots of useful information and tips.
You can join the Facebook group to be part of a community of parents going through the same things you are.
You can also get a HUGE jump-start on this by reading the manual / Survival Guide. Yes. There is one! ?
Your 5 minutes at parents’ evening wasn’t much help, and your child doesn’t tell you anything, so how do you know whether they’re doing the right things to prepare for their exams? Simple. Read this book!
You’ll know how to help your child…
• ORGANISE their notes and their time
• STUDY smarter, not harder
• PLAN for post-16
• FEEL confident and prepared for exams
(AND… you’ll know how to stay sane through the process!)
Packed full of ninja-parent tricks and tips for getting your child on board, without nagging!