15yr old daughter, exams/school advice please

We (husband) & I have an intelligent daughter. We’re in the UK, she’s at a Grammar (Selective) school. Passed in the top 5% when she took the test at 10yrs old to get into said selective school.

She’s happy to ‘coast’. She’s hitting all her targets and is top set for most subjects.
She has a real natural aptitude for maths but doesn’t enjoy it. She’s been put in the top set & has been put through for attaining a higher level than the usual GCSE in maths but she doesn’t want to do it. If she doesn’t do the extra tuition she’s not going to gain the higher grade (Further Maths) gcse.
She’ll still get an A in Mathematics but won’t get the Further Math grade.

She’s a great kid, like I said is a coaster as she’s also enjoys a social life which means she’s coming out with all A’s & B’s as opposed to 100% (10/11) A* GCSEs.

What did you do with your kids?

Did you push them or did you allow them to follow their own path when it came to studying?

Sorry for long post !

We allowed our kids to set their own pace. We never helped with homework (with one exception when my son was in university and had a math problem he couldn’t solve–but he said that he had had help with it) and didn’t even ever ask if they had done it. With our youngest, the teacher insisted that a parent sign the homework. My wife would sign names like Fidel Castro, causing the teacher to call to ask what was up. My wife explained that we believed that the only true discipline was self-discipline and we instilled that by acting disciplined in our lives. Just for the record I will mention that two of them finished first in their HS class and the third finished second. And they are all happy, successful adults. YMMV.

I love the fact your wife signed Fidel Castro on homework assignments :smiley:

In the UK many parents tutor their kids to get a place at a selective school, they spend thousands getting them in via tuition, we had no tutoring for our child.

We’ve always let her go at her own pace which is why we didn’t do tutoring to get her in to this school.

Thank you very much for your reply Hari

We need to let her do her own thing. She doesn’t want to do the Further maths and wants to give all her other GCSEs an equal amount of time.

I was a liberal arts graduate. Because I struggled with math.

I later returned to study engineering. Started with math 99. A no credit math course. Completed with three quarters of calculus.

When my daughter was in high school, I strongly encouraged her to study math. Because I knew that a math background would open many doors. And easier to make a living.

She ended with a liberal arts degree and first in line at the unemployment office.

She has since become a very famous author and internationally respected in her field.

The point being, we, as parents can provide encouragement; but in the end the off-spring will make their own decisions. Which is always a great idea.

Your daughter, like mine had good grades. That is always a good sign.

I feel confident that your daughter will make the right choices.

Many thanks for your reply, it means a lot to me to get replies from you guys as it’s been a struggle. A struggle as we’ve always let her find her own path/way and never pushed.

To have back up that we’re doing the right thing on the ‘not pushing’ route makes me feel that we’re on the right track.

She’s our only child, first time we’ve dealt with a strong willed, intelligent teenager.

I wasn’t sure if the ‘right/correct’ thing to do was plough forward with the mathematics as she has such a natural aptitude for it & her teachers are telling us to move her forward Or just let her learn/study at her own pace and allow her to choose whatever subjects she enjoys/values most.

I suspect the timing of consequences may be different in the US and UK, so that may influence how much weight you should give to answers from Americans. However … my son was, and remains, scary smart by certain limited measures. For whatever reason (gifted kids are often lazy as a result of not being challenged, it seems) he had a tendency not to work hard - if he understood something instantly, great; if not and he had to work hard at it, he instantly thought it was “too hard” and he’d never be good at it, so why bother?

As you can imagine, this was not a great recipe for an outstanding high school record, though certainly a recipe for a decent one. I was fairly hands-off about most of it (disclaimer: a careful search of my posting history would reveal I basically went nuts over the college admission process). One of my child-rearing mantras had always been “actions have consequences” so I left it to him to act and discover what those consequences might be. I did quite often remind him that, “things are easy now, but just be prepared - even smart people have to work hard to learn advanced things. Hopefully you’ll being studying advanced materials in areas that you love so you’ll want to do it - but make no mistake, a day will come when you DO have to work hard.” I think I said that enough times for it to sink in!

His dad was a bit more hands-on than me; not insanely overbearing, but likely to give a lecture if he saw sloppy homework or a test score that clearly didn’t reflect capability. It was probably good for our son to get a little of both types of parenting.

So where are we today? Well, CairoSon had his heart set on Cal Tech or MIT, with Harvey Mudd as a decent alternative. All three schools rejected him. He went on to a well-regarded SLAC, but not where he had wanted to go, and has done great (except for being apparently incapable of scheduling himself for the GREs, which may turn out to be a huge problem; I just posted the story in MPSIMS). In fact, with the important exception of his GRE scheduling, he’s amassed a pretty spectacular record.

My take on all of it is - in-born temperament is likely to persist no matter what. I was disciplined to the point of being hit for performing anything less than fantastically well in school, and it had zero impact on my performance except to make me anxious and resentful. But somewhere around my junior year of college, I magically on my own transformed into a very serious student - because I had matured to that stage emotionally on my own.

Again, the US and UK systems are different, and the US system is ultimately pretty forgiving, I think; a poor student who is smart can rectify their lousy performance later if they are willing to work super hard. I don’t know if that is the case for your daughter. But, unless she will irrevocably and horribly screw up her life unless you terrorize her into a higher level of performance, I’d say, based on my own and my son’s performance, let her be in charge.

(Come to think of it, I think my son’s dad’s story points in the same direction: we are three for three on “smart but didn’t work to capacity in school.” When he went to college, he immediately became a workaholic, and he has never looked back.)

Also, if she dislikes maths it doesn’t matter if she’s got aptitude for it, it would be a terrible area for her to pursue career-wise. Not only will she be unhappy, she’ll eventually be out-performed by people of similar talent who love what they are doing and thus will go an extra mile.

My experience raising 3 kids through highschool has been if you push them against their nature you will be pushing a brick wall. Each of my children had/have different learning styles.
Math was a particular problem for my youngest. She had to work very hard to maintain decent marks. She’s a self motivator, so I never pushed. She’s still in college with a double major. Doing great.
You have to know children tend to grow up and do what they want. You can’t force them into a slot they don’t fit in without causing other stresses or nervousness.
My eldest was/is the smartest of the 3. He wasn’t having any part of college. He joined the Marines. Me and his Dad we’re just horrified. He spent 2 tours in the Middle East. He came back with his life and limbs. Thank goodness. He was not left unscathed. But he is doing well now. He’s a heavy equipment master Mechanic.
Mid-daughter has a art degree. Worthless. She went back and took CAD courses and now works as a drafts-person at an Architecture firm. She a beautiful artist as well.
In highschool you’re getting close to the time where you have no control over their decisions as to studies. Praise her good work. Don’t push, gently nudge her the way you think she has aptitude for. And good luck.
(I was not above bribing my kids on occasion, shhh don’t tell)

What I’d like to do is slap you, but you’re a bit too far and I’d hurt my hand. The only thing that’s “good enough” is perfection, and it has to focus on what you want, not on what she wants; gee, wonder why it sounds familiar*. It’s her life and she’s doing well, so please have a cuppa herbal tea and get off her case.

  • Hint: “familiar” is exactly the right word.

My kid’s 14, and similar. We insisted on extra tutoring for the one language where she flitted between C and B, and she gets Maths tutoring, of her own volition. But that 2 hours a week is as far as we push it.

This year is final subject choice years, but she still has no idea what she wants to study at Uni, so we’ve insisted she keeps the maths, in addition to the fine arts she enjoys doing.

I was in a similar situation to your daughter (down to the competitive UK grammar school), with maths. Back then there wasn’t a ‘higher maths’ GSCE on offer, at least at that school, but I got pushed into taking maths at A level by school and mother, because I was good at it; I’d just come 2nd in the year in a maths exam, so no way were they going to let me drop it. I didn’t want to do it, and had said so persistently. I didn’t enjoy it in the least, and I failed it.

It’s hard to say, years later, that failing an A level affected my future career plans too much, but the constant arguments about it certainly affected my relationship with my mother; her plans for me were so obviously more important to her than my plans for me.

You can bring the course to your daughter, but you can’t make her think.

My daughter had straight A’s all the way through school, but she was studying all the time and not enjoying school. We had a long talk at the beginning of her junior year, and I convinced her that a B wouldn’t be the end of the world. I also told her that college interviews would want to know what she did other than study.

She dialed back on studying, got a part-time job on weekends in the field she was interested in, and began to have a social life. Her mom was furious with me, but that was nothing new. My daughter got into the college she dreamed of, did well there, and is a happy woman today.

Happiness and a good productive life are so much more important than the best marks in school. I had to pull the lil’wrekker back many times during middle school and high school. She wanted to do it all. There just wasn’t time enough in her/our lives for all her interests.
By the time she graduated she was wiped out. I had serious doubts as to whether she could attend her University that next fall. She did and is doing great. But it was close to the knuckle for a bit.

My wife & I offered rewards for good grades. Usually extra house privileges and perks.

We were very involved with PTA and teacher conferences. The teachers were very helpful in guiding us. Sometimes we were told our kids were applying themselves and we shouldn’t push them.