Thursday 10 September 2015

Coping with Sixth Form

It's a big step up . After the furore of the GCSEs , the hiatus of the wait for results, the joy ( or otherwise) of success , followed by a summer of festivals and friends, Year 12 can come as a rude shock.

Parents often think that their responsibility for schooling ends there. Their chicks have grown into fully fledged young adults and it's over to them now to take on the responsibility . Even if your sons or daughters are studying the kind of subjects that you haven't got a clue about , there's still lots you can do to help.

Here's my shortlist :-

  • Gone ( sadly ) are the trips to WH Smiths for new pencil cases and novelty stationery or the queues in Clarks for prohibitively expensive shoes that only fit for about a term and even the sew-in name labels can be consigned to the bin. However , if you're expecting your teen to take it upon himself or herself ( girls slightly less so ) to equip themselves with folder, files and notepads, don't be surprised if they foil your attempts to send them off with a freshly ironed backpack and a clutch of newly sharpened pencils. Youngest son left me in no doubt that he DID NOT need any help getting himself organised. I therefore followed his advice  ignored him, bought everything and laid it casually on his desk as if the stationery fairy had dropped it off overnight. 
  • The school dress code was 'smart casual'. They'll read that as the same T shirt they just slept in and mismatched socks. I bought a few short - sleeved proper shirts ( try not to buy these from M&S unless you want them to die of embarrassment - a lifelong ambition of mine ) and a couple of pairs of chinos and hung them casually in his wardrobe along with new underwear ( pant fairy's responsibility ) and a new pair of shoes as if they'd always been there. 
  • Don't expect a photo opportunity on the doorstep like you may have done in the past - that is SUCH a big no-no. See photo below.
  • Stock up the fridge with snacks and favourite foods for the first few nights and try not to eat them all before they get home.
  • Don't expect any more than a nonchalant 'it was OK' if you ask them how it went and remind them that they've got to do it all over again tomorrow, and the day after that and.....
  • Do ask them how it went as soon as they step over the threshold in the evening and brace yourself for the nonchalant ' it was OK' ..... maybe best not to remind them that they've got to do it all over again tomorrow etc on second thoughts.
  • Expect them to go straight to their rooms and turn on their computers. Any questions along the lines of ' Have you get any homework ' will be ignored so best not to ask . They can always find out the hard way.
  • Raid their backpacks on that first evening because you'll find scrunched up A4 papers about important thing like locker keys ( and payment for ) and text books, parent evenings and syllabus codes... oh and they'll complain bitterly about having been told all day by their new teachers that A Levels are REALY REALLY difficult and if they don't work hard enough they'll fail.
  • Resist the temptation to remind them that A Levels are REALY REALLY difficult and if they don't work hard enough they'll fail. 
  • And finally never forget that teenagers are invincible and that the world revolves around them.

All that said and you should survive the first week . You'll then have to do the same the next week and the week after that and.....

They're not always as grown up as they'd like you to believe. Youngest son confided in me that he felt like crying at break because he thought he was the only one sitting on his own talking to no-one. My heart broke but I know from experience that it won't be like for long . Making new friends, finding your way around and getting used to your new teachers' sense of humour ( or lack of ) will take a few weeks. By half term they'll be wondering what all the fuss is about ... and you'll be off to buy more shirts from anywhere other than Marks and Spencer.

Here's youngest peddling off into the distance ( if you squint closely you can spot him as a spec in the distance ) ... I daren't even suggest a photo on the doorstep so I had to leg it out to the garage and sneak in a quick one after he'd set off, hopefully oblivious to my paparazzi snapping... and doubly embarrassing as I was still in my dressing gown . 

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