Mrs J’s workshops : how to support your kids learning, without them realising they’re learning

It’s a hotly debated topic amongst my friends and I. How on earth are you supposed to get kids to do some homework, without creating some sort of battleground at your kitchen table?

Step in Mrs J, who has been sharing her educational secrets for many years now. When I ask her to hold a workshop at my kitchen table, she almost whispers, “just so I know, none of your children will be about will they?… I just don’t want them to know my secrets!”

Mrs J (Emma Jonas, teacher and educational guru) has written a series of self help books for parents like me. Those who feel they flounder at the very basics, but want to do more to support their kids at home, lacking the time or patience to sit (and often fail) to do exercise book after exercise book, could do a lot worse than asking Emma over to hold one of her workshops at their home.

She’ll come to you to discuss topics (see below) with the overarching theme being, how to support your kids learning, without them realising they’re learning.

The session is really interactive (you get sent a list of topics, you and your assembled girlfriends would like to go over) and it’s very informal, sitting round my kitchen table drinking coffee and listening to Emma made all this seem easy!

Each session is obviously different, but my main take aways from the morning were:

  • Keep it fun. Says Mrs J, “treat learning as a game, certainly don’t call it times tables” although that is absolutely what you are doing.
  • Keep it short. When you’ve enjoyed a game together with the kids, and they squeal for “ONE MORE TIME”, her response…? “Yes, we’ll play again. Later” Always keep them wanting more.
  • Remember, you are their mother, not their teacher. It’s confusing for children when you change roles in front of their very eyes. Teaching at home should be surreptitious, game based and fun.
  • Buy a dart board – it’s great for maths, as are dice and dominoes, “times tables by stealth
  • Be super encouraging when they get it right, this really spurs them on, “Oh! We should have videoed that!”
  • Tricky spellings need to be broken down into parts. Business for instance becomes a picture of a bus in an s.
  • If handwriting is an issue, drilling them on handwriting is too dull and can set you up to fail. Do anything at home to strengthen finger strength i.e. Lego, tweezers, threading etc. etc.

Everyone at the session was given a booklet from the day, Mrs J @ Home, A Self – Help book for parents with the tag line, ‘WARNING, May make teaching your child easy’ which means you don’t have to sit there scribbling, it’s all in her super useful book.

While I wished that Mrs J could have stuck around on a permanent basis to get my kids learning up to scratch, she left after an hour and a half having shared some interesting thoughts as to how best to support them at home – each suggestion massively practical and achievable. I would definitely recommend gathering a group of friends and hosting a session for yourself.

To do so, contact her via her website:

Got a reluctant reader on your hands? Mrs J can help with that too, with their series of books, The College Collection.

For all other publications created to assist you supporting your children, please visit the website for more information.


Notes to parents:

Mrs J runs coffee morning workshops to show you how to help them through playing games so that your children don’t actually realise that they are being taught!

Each workshop is fairly informal, lasts for an hour and a half and can start straight after school drop off, mid-morning or over lunch. The talk lasts for the inside of an hour and then questions can be asked.

The material is aimed at parents of Primary School children and covers topics such as:

  • Number bonds
  • Times tables
  • Coordinates
  • Counting on … early years
  • Language and vocabulary
  • Handwriting
  • Spelling
  • Comprehension … early years … later years (for exams)
  • Composition or free writing
  • How to build memory … early years
  • How to encourage children to read … early years
  • Advice for parents of dyslexic children

Contact Mrs J…



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