How to Help your Child


Tables make maths easier.  Much easier!  They need to be known instantly.  It is not enough for a child to be able to recite: 6, 12, 18, 24, 30 – he/she needs to recite: one six is six, two sixes are twelve – and so on. 


A child who is fully confident with tables can answer any tables question in any order. Tables become crucial from year 3 onwards.  Write this list on a piece of paper and give it to your child.  If they can answer them all in less than 90 seconds then they can confidently handle tables.  If they can ‘t –then they need to practise/sing/chant – over and over again until they become instant.  Try these in 90 seconds:

7×7  9×6  6×5  9×3  7×2  8×7  6×4  9×9  5×8  4×7  6×8 5×0  8×4  5×3  7×6  5×5  9×8  3×9  8×3  9×4


Get it down to 60 seconds and your child really is a tables champion!


For even better mastery of tables – try reversing them with division questions at speed.  Children are not usually as strong in using this approach.



For junior children, being able to take notes is a very important skill to take up to secondary school.  The idea is to read a text and write down the main points in as few words as possible. 


  • Ask your child to read a chapter of his/her reading book. Now give ten bullet points.  Can your child write down ten things that happened in the chapter – in order?


  • Do the same thing but ask your child to write a summary paragraph. Ask him/her to write in no more than 50 words what happened in the chapter.  These kind of things make reading homework more purposeful and focused.


  • If your child is reading a non-fiction book –set a task simply by looking at the contents page. You may ask ‘find me 10 things about Viking ships’ or ‘find me 20 facts about the Great Fire of London.’ Keep a limit on what you ask a child … or even time them!

Children are usually taught punctuation in the following order:


  • Full stop .
  • Question Mark ?
  • Exclamation Mark !
  • Comma ,
  • Speech “”

 Many children – when writing speech, miss the important ‘new speaker/new line rule.  They also miss the final comma before typically closing speech, and often that last important full stop:


“Hello” said Fred – instead of “Hello,” said Fred.


Converting a comic strip into correctly written speech is one of the best ways to practise the correct punctuation. Children can also look carefully at the comic strip and think of an ADVERBIAL to place on the end of the speech – just from examining the picture:


“Where are you off to?” asked Dennis, jumping out of bed. Here, ‘ jumping out of bed’ is the adverbial phrase.


Remember you are your child’s number one teacher!!


  • Listen to your child read every night – and more important – talk about the book to encourage discussion about the story/text.


  • From year 1 onwards, practice number bonds with your child regularly e.g. ‘how many ways can I make 14? Children who don’t have to think about what we add to 9 to get 14 or what to add to 8 to get 19 are those that progress fast in mathematics. A good game to play is pick a number between 1 and 20.  If the child picks, say, 13, you then call out another number and the child has to say what to add or subtract from second number to get 13.  g. 7 (answer=6) 15 (answer=2) and so on.  Practising games like this, even in the car –will make a MASSIVE difference to your child’s maths.


  • Practice tables with your child – especially from year 3 onwards. Again, tables should be so secure that any random question such as 7×6 or 8×4 can be answered in a matter of seconds and without counting on from the beginning of the table.  Tables are a great help with division, fractions and decimals.  Many local libraries sell attractive wall-charts to help out!


  • Start to encourage your child to write a diary. A couple of sentences a day at first –gradually getting a little longer.


  • Speed writing is a good exercise. Ask your child to describe their bedroom in 5 minutes – or to fill sheet of A4 writing about their favourite game or activity.