If he pushes back angrily when you first raise the subject of revision for summer exams, back off and revisit the whole conversation another time.
Make your approach by suggesting an informal meeting over the kitchen table with hot drinks. Call the meeting for a time that suits you both, and come armed with a calendar, his exam dates from the school website and a notebook of your own. If you have bought revision guides for each subject, have them with you.
Note all the useful dates on the left hand page of your notebook. You will need term dates too.
Agree that no work should be planned for weekends at this early stage and that only 3 days per week of a short revision plan after school is likely to be manageable. In school term time it is best to avoid Friday evenings too as these count as part of the weekend. This looks good as it shows him you are on his side.
Count up how many weekdays are left of this holiday and make a note.
Count up how many school weekdays there are in the following half term.
Count up how many weekdays there are in the half term holiday – his next break from school.
Don’t include the handful of days before the exams, as these will be needed for consolidation and confidence building. It is so much easier if the revision itself is complete by then.
Now look at each subject and estimate how many hours of work it will take. Individual sciences are in subject areas and you can ask how long each will take and then multiply the timings. Maths is best done for a set time every revision day – 20 minutes to half an hour is perfect.
Once you have had this chat, take another sip of your hot drink and discuss how the conversation has made him feel. Afraid? Empowered? Reassure that everything is manageable and ask him if one and a half or two hours a day sounds ok in holiday time. In term time it will depend very much on how much homework is usual for his school year group. Perhaps plan a quick half-hour in addition to homework where possible. Remind him of all the days and evenings you have agreed that he won’t need to be working, and accept that some days homework will be too heavy and the plan will need shifting.
Between you, you need to come up with something that divides up the subject hours over the time there is left. It may be that he doesn’t need to do so many days in the holiday – or perhaps he would like to do an hour more on some days so that others can be freed up. Just plan out the first week at this stage and see how it goes before putting together a new timetable for the following week. Remember to boldly tick off the hours you have noted as each session is completed.
Once the timetable is in place, there will be mistakes in it and don’t be afraid to make regular adjustments to the plan.
It should be clear at this point that some sort of work needs to be done early in order for the revision to be put in place. If your son feels the plan is unfair then you need to shuffle it together to make it seem fairer.
Don’t start on the day of the meeting. Start the following day at an agreed time – with an offer of a cuppa and plenty of positive reassurance. It will work. Really.