Belle is currently in the middle of her GCSE exams. They started around mid-May and her last one is on June 19th. There seem to be a LOT of them.
Her revision programme has gone something like this:
- English literature: watching a rap about Macbeth on YouTube in the car on the way to school
- English language: me saying ‘don’t forget to use your wow words’
- Music: eating some pulled pork and watching Vampire Diaries
Now I know school has changed a lot since I went, but to me this doesn’t feel like your classic exam revision strategy.
But what am I meant to do about it?
I guess the question probably isn’t ‘should I make my teenager revise for exams?’ and more ‘HOW do I make my teenager revise for exams?’
In fact, the last couple of years in particular for me have been very much ‘how do I make my teenager do anything that they don’t want to do?’ How do you physically make a 15 year old clean their teeth before bed if they are still up when you fall asleep and they JUST DON’T WANT TO?
Exam revision is a tough one though and as stressful as GCSEs are for her, the pressure I feel as a parent (and a single one at that) to support her and to do the right thing is immense.
On the one hand I know that school piles on the pressure and I want to do something to balance that out a little bit. They seem to want secondary school children to believe that unless they get the very best marks at GCSE then basically their lives are ruined. Whatever hopes and dreams they might have for the future will be meaningless without at least a level 7 in biology.
Of course that’s nonsense and I don’t want Belle to feel so stressed out that she can’t sit the exams at all.
On the other hand I know from experience that one way to reduce how nervous you feel about something is to be prepared. ‘If you could just do a little bit of revision,’ I tell her, ‘so that you feel confident about the basics, it would help to reduce the anxiety.’
She just can’t make that connection though, and so for whatever reason we are left in the YouTube rap/pulled pork situation. I have encouraged, offered support and incentives, bought revision guides and helped her tidy her bedroom but when it comes down to it, I can’t stand over her with a stick and MAKE her revise can I?
Perhaps in not being stricter I am teaching her a valuable lesson? At some point in their lives teenagers do need to face the consequences of their actions and take responsibility for motivating themselves don’t they?
And in the meantime we just have to hope that a pulled pork related question comes up in this afternoon’s music exam.
What do you think? Can or should we be making teenagers revise for exams or is there really only so much you can do? How does your child feel about exams?