The trouble with Year 10 boys
Many of the parents that come to me for help are the parents of boys who are in Year 10. There seems to be a pattern with these parents that they are panicking when their boys reach the end of Year 10 and are starting Year 11, and are getting disappointing results in their end of year exams. There are a few reasons why this tends to happen, particularly with boys in Year 10.
The trouble with Year 10 boys
- For most 14 year olds it can seem like a very long time from the start of Year 10 to their GCSEs at the end of Year 11. Two years is 14% of their life, and they haven't yet lived it! To them, it feels as though they have plenty of time to study for their GCSEs, but it's actually only 20 months.
- Most teachers will tell you that Year 9 is one of the trickiest to teach; teenage awkwardness abounds, there are hormones to deal with and children are testing boundaries to see how far they can push them. For many children, this is still the case as they start (and often well into) Year 10, and it can take a while to mature.
- Year 10 children are becoming proper teenagers; they are developing physically, and also socially, with friendship groups moving around and often a new-found freedom. They are being given more digital freedom, with more access to social apps, more time spent on consoles and Netflix and so on. They are playing at what they think adults are like, and experimenting with boundaries.
- Sadly, in many schools, Years 7 to 9 aren't very rigorous, and children get out of the habit of working hard and being pushed to achieve. This can mean that the adjustment to Year 10 and the start of GCSEs can be a difficult transition to make.
- Boys in particular like to leave things till the last minute and thrive on that pressure, but this can worry parents if they think their sons aren't achieving their potential and performing well before the GCSE exams start.
- Many children (both boys and girls) don't actually know how to revise, and boys particularly are often too proud to admit their ignorance and ask for help.
All of these things create a rather nasty mix that can lead to some disappointing results in year 10 exams and parents stressing out about their children's prospects at GCSE. They come to me for help, but it's stressful putting the right things in place from year 11. It's best to do it in year 10 and get the right habits going and therefore avoid the crisis in the first place.
So, what's the solution? How can you avoid this problem in the first place?
1. Set clear routines, expectations and boundaries around academic work
You need to start putting in place the boundaries, routines and expectations of your child as soon as possible. It can be difficult in Years 7, 8 and 9 if they're not getting much homework, but you can still put in place your own expectations at home, such as a minimum amount of reading time before playing on the Xbox, for example. Be clear about how you value education in your home. The earlier your children understand what's expected of them, the less nagging you'll find yourself doing later on.
2. Make sure they know how to revise
Schools don't generally teach children how to study and revise for exams. Without a specific revision plan, a lot of time is wasted and the potential for the best grades can disappear. I have several articles about study and revision that will help your child learn how to do it properly from the start. These include:
- The Revision Power Hour
- How to use post-it notes for revision
- How to make a revision timetable and stick to it
However, if you feel you and your child would like more support, or you want to be sure to avoid this crisis point in Year 10 altogether, I invite you to join my online membership, The Extraordinaries Club. This Club is for both parents and children alike, with resources, workshops, mastermind courses, webinars and my original course The Exam Success Formula. There are also weekly coaching calls, printables and an on-site forum where you can chat to other parents or students in similar positions.