A regular 10 minute per day habit has to be the secret of academic success. But can you bear to take your family routines to the next level?

Take it as given that a bedtime reading habit shouldn’t be seen as work, and needs to be in place too. Although the 10 minute thing only needs to be week days, not the weekend. Children who are familiar and comfortable with the basics of number, reading and writing feel good about school work and go on to do better than those whose skills are not as sharp, and feel less confident within their peer-group.

When children are old enough – from school age – it is best to explain what the plan is and why it is there. Pick a time that suits your own child best, perhaps first thing in the morning if yours is an early riser (in our house that would be ridiculous) or in bed, before story time and after bath, for tired little ones who need to relax after school.

Under 5s

This age group can simply do 5 minutes of number chat and play with you, or there are some wonderful free online games for those moments where you need the services of your ‘laptop nanny’…

CLICK HERE for counting games you can buy on amazon

Or when you need a bit of space:

CLICK HERE for online counting games they can play independently (once you’ve done a bit of an intro together)

Reading to your child at bedtime is tremendously beneficial, so if you do have a further 5 minutes in the day, read a picture book with them in addition to bedtime reading. If you run your finger under each word you read aloud, your child will quickly pick up that we read from left to write and that each symbol you point to = one spoken word.

5-7 years, Key Stage 1 (or pre-prep) age

Now the whole ten minute thing can really swing into action. You may find that 10 minutes still feels too much, so don’t be afraid to shorten it. Literally 2 or 3 minutes will make a longterm difference.

5 minutes maths

CLICK HERE for an ordering numbers game from the BBC. If the game is too hard, go back to the under-5s games. In a week or two your child’s confidence will have grown and he or she will be ready to return to this sort of thing. Never stress about it, you have so much time at this age to get it right and children learn at their own pace.

CLICK HERE for a place value game.

CLICK HERE for a mixed set of games.

5 minutes writing

Go to our ‘Fix your child’s writing’ post in the Writing category if you notice that your child isn’t holding the pen correctly. Pen grip should be fixed as soon as you spot it and that is how you should first spend the time.

If the pen grip is great then start with handwriting practice if you feel it is needed. Again, go to our  ‘Fix your child’s writing’ post to find out what to do. 5 minutes handwriting per day, done slowly and carefully and purely for the beauty of each letter and join will have a wonderfully positive impact going forward.

If your child writes beautifully already, then pick up a smart notebook and a good rollerball pen and ask him or her to write one sentence about their day. A sentence should start with a  capital letter, end with a full stop and make sense on its own. Try to pick out the funniest thing that happened that day, or the most surprising. Just the one sentence – and mark it with a lovely tick and a gold star.

7-11 years, Key Stage 2 (or prep) age

5 minutes maths

Tables games are the key here. Go to our ‘Fix your child’s maths’ post to learn more.

CLICK HERE for a simple set of maths games that really work. Scroll down to the blue picture on the left and start with the timed tables games underneath the picture.

Once tables are secured up to 12×12 keep going over them night after night. These game are perfect because you can race against yourself and your family. My son’s top score is 51 in two minutes on the 4x table. Mine is 75 (but I got one wrong because of poor mouse skills).

5 minutes writing

Go to our ‘Fix your child’s writing’ post in the Writing category if you notice that your child isn’t holding the pen correctly. Pen grip should be fixed as soon as you spot it and that is how you should first spend the time.

If the pen grip is great then start with handwriting practice if you feel it is needed. Again, go to our  ‘Fix your child’s writing’ post to find out what to do. 5 minutes handwriting per day, done slowly and carefully and purely for the beauty of each letter and join will have a wonderfully positive impact going forward.

If your child writes beautifully already, then pick up a smart notebook and a good rollerball pen and ask him or her to write one sentence about their day. A sentence should start with a  capital letter, end with a full stop and make sense on its own. Try to pick out the funniest thing that happened that day, or the most surprising. Just the one sentence – and mark it with a lovely tick and a gold star.

11-13 years, Key Stage 3 (or senior prep) age

5 minutes maths

Maths is a practical skill that improves the more you do it. Speed and accuracy come with the practice. First make sure tables really are speedy as anything and that your child can say them backwards too (How many 9s in 72? What makes 56? etc). If tables need work then go back to the 7-11 age group maths games. Don’t try to push forward or raise the level – confidence is about starting with the easy stuff and getting faster and more accurate before being ready for the next challenge.

CLICK HERE for the tables games site. Around the games there are other number-based games involving giving change, adding and subtracting. Always start with number, even if the first few months of their 5 minute plan are spent here.

Beyond the mental maths above, you can ask for 10 long multiplication sums, or 10 division sums. This is a simple website to start with:

CLICK HERE for number worksheets and answers

If your child needs more challenging work, then start at the beginning of this brilliant online resource. The answers are very helpfully at the back!

R Joinson Exercises in KS3 Mathematics Levels 3-4

R Joinson Exercises in KS3 Mathematics Levels 5-6

R Joinson Exercises in KS3 Mathematics Levels 7-8

5 minutes writing

A confident 11 year old shouldn’t need to do extra writing every night and you can drop this element now. But do read through the text below in case your child has any confidence-issues with writing that need addressing. If so, the 5 minutes per day will be invaluable.

Go to our ‘Fix your child’s writing’ post in the Writing category if you notice that your child isn’t holding the pen correctly. Pen grip should be fixed as soon as you spot it and that is how you should first spend the time.

If you are unhappy with your child’s written skills turn to our Fix your child’s writing’ post in the Writing category and use the writing samples there to match your child’s problems to our solutions.