Keep Calm And Don’t Panic If Your Child Won’t Revise!

Studying Child

Like hundreds, thousands, possibly hundreds of thousands of other parents, this weekend I’ve been looking up on the internet about how to deal with the problem of the exam-facing but non-revising teen. The Brevet des Collèges is just around the corner for our Rors, together with all troisièmes (= pupils in their last year of their four years of secondary school). The children will receive the National Diplôme du Brevet if they pass. The pupils have three exams to do: mathematics, French and history-geography. French comes in a few bits with a dictée (dictation), which everyone hates, as one of them. Rors has had two brevets blancs (mock exams) with mixed results, but he seems to think that’s quite enough revision for him. The school hasn’t given much if any advice on how to approach the rather daunting prospect of preparing for exams, and any suggestions Chris and I make are falling on deaf ears. Hence the appeal to the internet today.

Advice is conflicting. For every site that says don’t nag, others say to apply very gentle pressure on the reluctant reviser. To match the ones that say just leave them to it, others suggest helping with a revision timetable. I was a compulsive reviser. Looking back I went completely OTT revising for my O-levels and A-levels. I’d take over the lounge and the record player and revise myself into a stupor. Mum would keep popping in to tell me to take a break and not to overdo it. Funnily I’ve never found myself needing to do that with any of my three! I never wanted my guys to be as obsessive as I was, and the two oldest haven’t been, mercifully, and have done well, but in our youngest son’s case I’m certain that a teeny weeny bit of going over notes wouldn’t hurt!

What to do to ensure our Rors won’t let himself down in his exams? Hope for the best? Not care? Quietly drink ourselves into oblivion in the effort not to nag him? The brevet is important, and it isn’t. It’s important because, like any exam or test, it’s a challenge and a chance for the children to prove what they know. To show that they’re mature enough to handle exams and other pressures. But, that said, the kids don’t need to pass the brevet to get into lycée. Their lycée du secteur (basically the lycée of the catchment area) will accept them without it. Knowing that, you can see why kids are being rather laid back about the whole thing. And I certainly don’t want Rors to become a nervous wreck over exams. Sadly some youngsters get very wound up and can be physically ill because of the pressure.

But there must be a happy medium, surely, whereby a child will want do their best whilst keeping things in proportion. I shall try to aim for that with Rors. We’ll keep him healthily fed and make sure he gets plenty of sleep and be there to listen and encourage – and hope that all his favourite topics come up on the day!