Give your grandchildren a headstart at school

Give your grandchildren a headstart at school

Whether you occasionally do the school pick-up or you are the main homework helper, grandparents have a huge amount of numeracy, literacy and science expertise to offer – and you’ve probably been sharing it without even knowing it. TheSchoolRun’s Elena Dalrymple explains how your everyday routine is packed with opportunities to put your skills to good use.

Primary school - ages 5-11

  • Supermarket sweep: A trip to the shops can be as educational as a day at school! Start by getting the grandchildren to help you write your shopping list: dictate what you need, check the spelling together and make sure nothing’s missing. Once you’re at the shops, sneak in some quick multiplication practice – if a packet of cakes is enough for two people but another four people are expected for tea, how many more packets will you need? End your shopping trip by paying in cash and putting your grandchild in charge of counting the money and checking the change – all good maths practice.
  • Finger exercise: Sewing is perfect for children because the fine motor skills involved help to develop the muscles needed for good handwriting skills, plus mentally, it’s therapeutic and satisfying. Even boys can be persuaded if the pattern is right! Get them started learning basic cross-stitch, threading a needle and tying knots.
  • Tally ho: Children love to do surveys and, in doing so, they’ll be working on their maths and counting skills. Set yourself up in the garden, park or at the window – wherever you have a clear view of a road – and suggest a vehicle tally. Pre-draw columns for certain colours and types of vehicles and, at the end of the game, get your grandchild to add up how many they’ve seen. ‘Handling data’ is part of the primary maths curriculum, but they won’t even realise they’re learning.
  • Hooray for Hangman: Sometimes the old ones are the best... Hangman can’t be beaten for spelling practice – and can be played anywhere as long as you have pen and paper. Choose a word at your grandchild’s level and get them guessing. Reinforce the vowels by encouraging them to try these first and make sure every player has a go at being hangman and the guesser.
  • Table match: Make two sets of cards, one set with times tables questions (each on a separate piece of paper) and the other set with the answers. Lay all the cards on the floor or a table and simply ask your grandchild to match the correct question and answer cards. By the end of primary school children are expected to be confident about multiplication tables; practice games are a great way to get the facts to stick.

Foxed by phonics? Puzzled by partitioning? aims to help parents and grandparents understand what and how children learn at primary school today. As an exclusive taster of the resources available on the website, Yours readers can claim two free educational puzzle packs for children in KS1 (aged 5-7) and KS2 (aged 7-11). To access your packs go to You will be able to download the packs onto your computer and print them out as many times as you wish.