View Full Version : What do you Do with a Kid

26th Aug 2010, 07:41
Who is not doing so well in last two years of secondary school... but does want to get into uni, even if he doesn't know what he wants to do there?

Bruce Wayne
26th Aug 2010, 07:47
first find out what the problem is..

is it stuggling with the course work or something on a personal level.

26th Aug 2010, 07:58
Give him some incentive to work harder.

For example. Remind him that the amount of rent he will be charged to continue living in your house on leaving school, will be inversely proportional to the GCSE grades he attains.

That worked wonders for my offspring!

26th Aug 2010, 08:16
Get him a weekend job laying tarmac, point out that its finger-out time or he could be doing this till he's too old to lift a shovel.

sea oxen
26th Aug 2010, 08:21
There was an interesting article in the Telegraph the other day for the benefit of children whose grades would not permit them to matriculate.

One of the key points was the cost of sacrificing three years of one's life and inheriting a swingeing debt at the end, only to join the columns of bright-eyed hopefuls attempting to acquire a job with an Origami degree from Redbrick Poly. Would you like fries with that?

University is not for everyone. I loved it and stayed on after I had graduated in order to take more courses. By the time I left, some of the boys in my street had already formed their own businesses and were doing nicely.

I would suggest that a good motivation would be excelling for the sake of excelling. University or not, learning to do your best is a skill which can be applied to every aspect of one's life. Not doing so means you're short-changing yourself and wasting your life.


Standard Noise
26th Aug 2010, 08:45
If he wants to go to Uni then it sounds like the problem doesn't lie in the will to work hard, rather that the current workload at school is too difficult. Maybe a year on a vocational course or doing something at a college that is a stepping stone to a degree course would help.

Noisy jnr is bright, but was too lazy to work at school, had a great social life but didn't realise that on any given night, some of his friends weren't out gadding about because they were in studying. Didn't dawn on him til it was too late, now he's had to find new friends cos all his mates are off at Uni round the country and he's still here, having to get up at 0645 every day to be in work for 0730. Strangely, the place he works at aren't used to having bright kids apply so they put them all through selection tests to weed out the duffers, he was surprised when they told him he'd scored higher than anyone ever had in all the years they used that testing system. Made him realise what a cock he'd been at school!

Worrals in the wilds
26th Aug 2010, 09:04
Is he doing subjects that suit him? For example, is he doing a lot of science subjects when he's really a humanities person, or vice versa? Speaking from personal experience (I did badly in two senior subjects that I only took because you were 'suppposed' to do them), there's no point in him being enrolled in subjects that don't interest him or fit in with his skills.

There is a book called 'How Green is your Parachute' that is an excellent guide to picking a career. Wanting to go to uni is a good general goal, but almost any degree is simply a passport to a career (even if it's just as an academic television 'expert' :}) so he should be considering what he wants to do in life, or even for the next decade, and what degree (if any) he needs to do to achieve that.

As sea oxen says, he may not be cut out for academia. Is he working hard but not achieving high marks? If so, he may not be very academic or may be doing the wrong subjects (as above). If he's not academic he may do better looking at a trade, the military or something similarly practical.

Is he not working hard? If that's the case and he has a generalised wish to go to uni but doesn't know what he wants to do, it may be more of a peer (or parent?) pressure goal than a genuine goal.

If he does want to go to uni and isn't working as hard as he can, he needs to consider what courses interest him and what marks he needs to achieve (and how much / little work he has to do:E) to get there. If he can bludge his way into a basic degree, that's what he's happy with and it has a potential career path, then good luck to him. However, if he won't work hard enough to make the cutoff marks all the wanting in the world won't get him into a course. This is a concept some Gen Zers have trouble with.

(successful postgraduate student, despite being a high school middle achiever:))

Lon More
26th Aug 2010, 09:06
I was bone-idle at school. Not given the chance to stay on for a second year in the Sixth Form to try for better grades in A levels. Not interested in Uni. RAF didn't want me due to attitude problems, A glut of pilots worldwide (Hamble course got chopped before it started) so drifted into ATC. Best thing i could have done. It ws either that or go to work - and in Lootown that meant the track at Vauxhall:suspect:

26th Aug 2010, 09:12
I worked hard at uni, got a reasonable 2:1, done ok since, not spectacular. My brother left school with two gce's: metalwork & biology. He couldn't find a job welding cats, so went to work for a haulage company, learnt the business, set up on his own & twenty five years later has had three successful busineses & is a multi millonaire. Not being good at school or going to university isn't the end of the world, no one knows what the future holds.

26th Aug 2010, 10:25
What is his reason for wanting to have a university education, if he has no idea what subject he wishes to study, and isn't even bothering to work to his capacity while still at school? If it's just to keep up with the 'in' crowd, to enjoy a good social life, or to have a warm feeling of self-worth, then he doesn't need to be in a university environment to experience these. He appears to lack the necessary motivation to benefit from the academic route to success in life.

Even now, with the proportion of 18 year olds going to university approaching the 50% New Labour target, the other half of that age group represents an enormous national resource. There is a huge variety of jobs which definitely have no need of specialised academic training, but which will repay diligent application by keen candidates. Skills training courses are available if needed, for those who show aptitude for vital trades, professions and businesses. These enable the many who thrive on manufacturing, designing, maintaining, repairing, building and generally making the wheels of our daily life turn, to achieve the real satisfaction of knowing they are making a valued contribution.

26th Aug 2010, 10:37
From my own experience with former step-son, he was a lazy Oik through year 10 and 11, but fortunately the GCSE's are now an insult to the intelligence of a 9 year old, so I wouldn't get too bent out of shape. I recommend identify areas of weakness and consider a private tutor. The benefits are two fold -

1. School work improves through 1-1 tuition.

2. School work improves due to attitude adjustment based on giving up free time "Hanging wiv me sound m8's" in favour of tutoring sesh.

Failing that a good Rembrandt-ing through hard labour as suggested above..

26th Aug 2010, 10:49
Check out the school first. Have they pushed him into subjects that suit them rather than him? If he's a Humanities type but they want science numbers up they will push in this direction, and vice versa. Have an offspring that was a shoe-in for arts, school convinced him to go for science. Got a degree, not a good one, never been happy since, now trying to go back and get work on literary side. Schools are b***ards for this, I wish I had tried harder to make him play to his strengths.


26th Aug 2010, 10:50
Although I'm doing reasonably well now, my school years were nothing to be excited about, so all is not necessarily lost if kids don't do too well.

However 30 odd years ago it was different and we never had all the things that kids take for granted these days. Modern kids are brought up expecting everything on a plate (because we have been stupid enough to give them it). They all have PCs, mobile phones, designer clothes etc but they have never had to pay for it. They don't understand the value of anything and how much things cost.

What may make a difference to how hard they work at school is to make them realise how much things cost and how hard it is going to be to afford to buy them on their own. Take for example car insurance. They all expect to have a car when they turn 17 but insurance will be well over 1K per year. Thats 100 per month. If they get their first job at MacDonalds they will probably earn 4.50 per hour. How many hours will they have to work to pay off the 100? How much will that leave them with. What other things are they expecting to buy? They will soon realise that they will not have the money to do the things they want to do. When that penny finally drops and they realise that if they go for a job interview with no experience, the person with the better qualifications is more likely to get the job, they might just realise that being at school is not just a social activity, but an opportunity to learn. If they then want to learn, they will be more likely to get the grades that can make a difference.

Making them realise is easier said than done of course, especially when they already know everything:hmm:

Ancient Observer
26th Aug 2010, 11:49
I don't know if there's a magic answer. My elder daughter was bone idle, but bright. On Mondays she wanted to go to Uni., by Wednesdays she didn't, on Friday she did, over the weekend, she didn't. ...........and the pattern changed each week.

All SWMBO and I could do was to paint a positive picture of the possible good times at Uni., and any other benefits that seemed to be relevant when, (or if/when) we were granted face time with her.

She was then bright enough to figure out exactly how little she needed to work to get in. Which she did.

26th Aug 2010, 12:14
Glide Junior has just had his GCSE results which were, shall we say, a little disappointing to say the least. This was despite 2 years of encouragement, advice, groundings, removal of Xbox privileges, description of future with no quals etc. It has been a massive wake up call for him and he is most of all upset with himself which is a good thing as he, hopefully, now realises that he does need to put the effort in to get what he wants. School were very good throughout and even tested for Dyslexia (is this a factor for you Rolling?). There is no easy answer because we as parents do all we can with carrot and stick but at the end of the day it is up to them to do the work. Fortunately he has a place at College to do a lesser version of his chosen course with appropriate resits so all is not lost by any means.

26th Aug 2010, 12:31
Things always work out one way or the other, why worry about university? As others have already said, there's lots of interesting things to do that don't require a degree. Two of our daughters are enjoying jobs that don't require the degrees that they hold and they're both very happy with their lives.

As for me, I didn't graduate until I was over 50. Mooching round the world fixing aeroplanes was very interesting, lots of fun and paid well enough. All the degree was good for was getting into management, so I don't know why I bothered. :ugh:

26th Aug 2010, 12:34
I know two young men who were the bane of their parents' lives aged 15. Neither did any work before GCSEs and both got exactly what they deserved - not much.

Interestingly they both went to the same 6th Form College, where they did BTEC National Diplomas - one in electronics and the other engineering.

Both got the highest grade possible (Triple Distinction) and the electronics lad went to uni where he got a 1st, while the engineering lad joined an oilfield services company close by (though very far from the sea..) and was very soon earning 40,000 a year working offshore. He's now gone to uni himself, and doing really well too.

Neither set of parents can really believe their luck.

26th Aug 2010, 12:40
I have to ask this rollingthunder: does he play video games? If so, how often and for how long?

The reason I ask is because my 14 year old was doing badly in school last semester.

His poor grades were directly proportional to the hours of video game he was playing on either his iPod Touch or his Xbox 360. (kids live with their mother and step father so what goes on there is beyond my control. To a point.)

When he lost his video game playing "privileges" his grades went way up.

26th Aug 2010, 12:48
rgbrock1 raises a good point - and I'll add - does he do any sport outside school, or anything outside school that's structured/organised?

You won't be surprised to hear me extol the virtues of the Air Training Corps - the programmes are very good, and they are the kind of kids who while not all hugely bright, don't automatically think it's cool to do no school-work - so his peer-group is positive, not negative in its effect.

26th Aug 2010, 12:52
...or Facebook for that matter. I'm rueing the day I bought my eldest a laptop, however it can be a useful motivational tool when it is confiscated.

You may want to spend more time helping him/her with their homework. Bit of a b*gger I know but I've found it helps them a lot when they know their parents are taking an active interest in their school work. It also gives you a chance find out exactly what school work they are doing (this information was never really forthcoming before) and you can ask about results for specific bits of homework etc (rather than wait for the shocker after the end-of-year exams).

26th Aug 2010, 13:14
dead pan:

What can be "a bit of a bugger" in helping one's child with his/her homework? Everyone benefits from doing so.

26th Aug 2010, 13:32
I did well on GCSEs, and then gave up for A levels. I just didn't know what I wanted to do, and found A level subjects too "dry".

I did manage to get into a good university to study science & technology (despite only getting poor A level results) and I excelled in the challenging academic environment.

Maybe he's just really bored with learning at the moment and some "vocational" learning alongside "academic" learning may help?

Have to note that my brother left school with 1 GCSE and a 50 Meter swimming certificate. He's now a multi-,, with his own business. I retrained with a masters degree (MBA) last year and have just paid off my overdraft from the year back in School. University isn't everything - it depends what your son wants out of life. Maybe University is a cover up for "I'm bored sh1tless and don't know what to do in the future so I'll keep everyone sweet whilst I fugure it out". Has your son had any good career advice over a prolonged period of time?

26th Aug 2010, 13:42
The drive for Uni places sometimes forces young people into areas (and familial expectations) which are not, perhaps, ideal for the individual. Perhaps a salaried job with related vocational training might suit, as it has with my younger daughter who is happy in her accountancy office job and is now only 2 modules away from chartered status.

26th Aug 2010, 14:00
My wife went to an expensive girls' school, but failed to excel or even do that well academically. She left at 16, went to a smart secretarial college that her parents paid for, and then did typing and shorthand for three years, ending up at the OUP. A move to the design dept as a secretary fired her interest, and she then went to uni where she got a 1st, and then a job at a very good design firm in London. It's still pretty unusual to get a 1st, but have no A-levels or their equivalent.

Being bored at school is perfectly acceptable - so long as you pull your finger out in the real world.

sea oxen
26th Aug 2010, 14:07

I think that you are being too harsh. Not everyone is capable of getting into aboriginal poetry or the binomial theorem when he gets back from work. I can do the latter, but not the former.

Besides which, when you are getting that close to your matriculation, you should be working with your schoolmates and your tutors - the coursework will be quite alien to the parents. That is not to say that showing an interest and some encouragement is bad; rather that by that time it has gone beyond arithmetic and comprehension.

Mrs SO has recently completed a postgraduate course, and I was more than happy to help her with titrations and partial pressures, but I was all at sea when it came to the political agenda she had to push. In theory, she needed a degree to study nursing, but if you could remember to resume breathing when you awoke, you'd be a shoo-in.

My parents were horrified when my brother announced that he wouldn't be going up, but he'd take his degree part time. He does rather well.

Here is the rub, though. The lad has to matriculate, and do so with a comfortable margin. The only way to do that (consistently) is through good, old-fashioned hard work.


26th Aug 2010, 15:05
For the record I'm single and have no children so I'll have to ask her those questions.

26th Aug 2010, 16:00
The big surprise in life is how different kids are, even from the same family.

All the strategies offered above are good but you have to find the one that works for each child, ours have ranged from bribing, plain old nagging through self motivation to "look what happens when you don't work hard at school."

One thing we have found is indispensible is close attention to what is happening at school. Mrs VJ is always on top of progress there, even through Grade 12 (AND all the way through Uni!) Poor work is done again (and for extra marks negotiated with teachers,) and exams are practiced several times more than at school too. (Our teachers don't really seem to believe too much in exam preparation, thinking one pre-run is enough.)

Tutoring has helped some of our kids. Start early so they don't fall behind. If nothing else it isolates a couple of hours beyond school when they have to pay attention.

26th Aug 2010, 16:28
ChrisVJ wrote:

The big surprise in life is how different kids are, even from the same family

Tell me about it! Eldest son is 14. Quiet, introspective, brainy, loves sports, etc.

Middle son is 12. Autistic, extremely quiet, brainy, loves sport, loves hacking into his school's computer systems and wreaking havoc.

Youngest is my daughter: 9. Very verbal (bordering on verbal diarrhea), not introspective at all, not brainy but, shall we say, earthly, can't sit still for more than 33.9 seconds, can't figure her iPod Nano out, let alone computers, loves to eat copious amounts of junk food, etc.

Yes, all very different!!!!

Loose rivets
26th Aug 2010, 16:59
I left school at 14 with no exams under my belt whatsoever. I'm still not sure if it was a good thing or a bad thing.:rolleyes:

My grandchildren here in 'The Vally' are about as different as it's possible to be. But so are the parents. My son is a quiet academic, and his wife is a beautiful tall, very, very Texan blond. She's got four prestigious awards for her work connected with Media studies, University film making and the like. Don't really understand it.

G-son is tall, blond and does not want to take engines to pieces. I just don't know what will become of him.

G-daughter is so feisty that she frightens me. She's only 7. When she was 3, she was struggling in the pool to swim properly. Then she saw something she wanted. Next thing was a supercharged eggbeater going at 30kts and submerging everything in her wake. She's not changed.

After a looooong scrap with her brother and a lecture from us about sportsmanship, grandma and I nodded contentedly at ourselves about the lesson we'd just delivered. She stays quiet for a moment then turns to her brother. "LOSER!!!!!" She only accepts winning.

I'm still concerned. I keep telling the boy that it's no use being able to spell the names of things, if you don't know exactly what's going on inside them.

While I was talking, I became aware that he'd just reassembled a cordless phone that was in a bazzillion pieces on my bench. It had fallen into a pond. He'd just done it for something to do while getting a boring lecture. The darn thing worked. (true that.)

26th Aug 2010, 17:28
What do you Do with a Kid
Who is not doing so well in last two years of secondary school... but does want to get into uni, even if he doesn't know what he wants to do there?

I hate to tell you this but education is NOT just about school. It is about instilling values. Schools, as a general rule are poor at this, after all, it's not one of the KPIs is it?

Equally, success is not about making money as some others seem to suggest.

Teenagers these days have a difficult lot. We - their parents and friends - want them to have plans.

But, if we reflect on what we were like at the same age, we had no fixed ideas or ambitions.

Support, try to understand and accept that he/she will make his/her own decsisions and will learn from them.

26th Aug 2010, 18:16

That sounds like a case of someone bored with the curriculum. Perhaps I'm wrong.

26th Aug 2010, 19:04
What can be "a bit of a bugger" in helping one's child with his/her homework?

Knackered from a hard day in the office, footie on the box, all you want to do is slump in your armchair with a mug of horlicks. Capiche?