Peace and goodwill to all parents this Christmastide.

Posted by on Nov 24, 2014 in Blog | 0 comments

I have to pack my Christmas parcels early to send to family overseas. Last Monday my friend and I went to Cribbs Causeway, thinking we were ahead of the game but we were so wrong. The shops were heaving and the queues for lunch were epic and its only November! The Christmas spirit was sadly lacking by the end of the morning. For students Christmas has the ultimate excitement of lots of parties and hopefully present too but the downside can be the thought of exams. For many socialising is much more important than poring over revision notes and who can blame them?

90% of my clients have motivation problems and I cant help wondering what we are doing to students as we feed them through the education sausage machine. It appears that by the time they hit Year 11 many are fed up with the whole business of yet more exams which are even more important than all the other tests and exams they have taken. They can find far more interesting things to do such as play rugby or football, go riding or swimming, go out with friends -ANYTHING it seems rather than work. The pressures are enormous and I feel sorry for them.Don’t misunderstand me, there always was pressure and i well remember the terror of ‘O’ levels but there are definitely higher expectations now from parents, teachers, the school as a whole and peers.

If you have teenagers taking exams, who maybe have mocks after Christmas, a little planning for peace needs to take place. Many schools hand out revision timetables, sometimes in a PHSE lesson. Although this is a good plan it is quite impersonal and can lead to panic! Some pupils will look at all the sessions expected of them, go into meltdown and pretend the exams aren’t happening. Others will follow it to the letter and will eschew any family activities, locking themselves in their room and barely emerging on Christmas Day. there is a middle way but in my experience, teenagers are more inclined to work if they make the plan themselves, perhaps in consultation with an adult or older sibling. it has to be ‘do-able’ and allow time for relaxation and fun. Take into account social events which have been planned, then work out the time of day they work best, how long they can concentrate for and the techniques they will use.

One thing is for sure, except in rare cases, sitting, reading through notes does not = good learning. variety is the spice of life and revision. If the teenager has a variety of techniques they can use then study is not likely to be so boring. if its not too boring it is likely to get done.

Parents often assume that teenagers are best working quietly in their room. I disagree, on the grounds that many a teenager who finds it difficult to get down to work finds it impossible if left to their own devices. I never fail to be amazed by the distractions they can find: texting, Facebook, You Tube, Skype, video/online games, films – so many distractions. Working in the kitchen/lounge is often better because you can gently encourage them into action. Working for hours on end can also be counter productive and short, sharp bursts are often the way forward.

As a parent, you are in effect the ringmaster; if your teenager has shared the programme (timetable) with you, you are equipped to conduct the show. Remember though, you may well have a mule in the ring and hooves will be well and truly dug in if you take a dictatorial approach! Many demotivated pupils also like to work out things their own way and this is why it is so important that the consider when and for how long they work. Better have 1 hour of good work than 3 hours of half hearted effort and a sulky teenager to boot. Yes, you probably worked harder, achieved more and had a fierce parent breathing down your neck but often today’s children don’t see the need for struggle.

Try to help them establish a routine which works for them, make sure they get fresh air and exercise and have time to socialise. Reward effort and yes, deny privileges if promises are not being kept. Start them off on the tight track this Christmas and send them to my Kick start revision workshop on 12th December ( the first day of the holidays for some). They’ll come home with a plan and techniques which can help them achieve painlessly.

Kick-start Revision Workshop, Bridges Community Centre, Monmouth. Monday 12th Dec 10.00 -12.00 mid day. £45. Contact Frances – for booking form and details.