Golden Time: How to Use Teachers’ Best Kept Secret at Home


  1. What is Golden Time?
  2. Golden Time at home
  3. How do children earn Golden Time?
  4. What happens if one child doesn’t get Golden Time?


With classrooms being some of the most challenging spaces for children’s behaviour, teachers need to get creative about the way they manage it. There’s nothing stopping you from using these very same strategies at home! We take a look at how this popular incentive for good behaviour works in primary schools.teacher_students

What is Golden Time? 


So what is Golden Time in primary schools?

The basics

Golden Time works! Usually, on Friday afternoons across the UK in primary schools, children say goodbye to the week in favour of joyful activities like crafts, sports and playing games. This time of the week is called Golden time; a period dedicated to rewarding children who have kept the school expectations (or rules) all week long. 

Known as rainbow time or reward time to some, it’s a period of up to an hour, usually on Fridays (although some schools choose to do it daily for a shorter time period!) to look forward to as the week goes on.

The main aim is to reward good behaviour, rather than academic achievement. ‘The majority of children behave well most of the time, but their behaviour doesn’t get noticed,’ explains Jenny Mosley, the education consultant who invented golden time in the 1980s. ‘Golden time celebrates those children who have followed the golden rules.’

Golden Time is something children get excited about. They don’t get to do these activities at other times in the week! The most important point about golden time is that it’s a treat, which gives children a great incentive to follow the golden rules. It’s a positive behaviour management tool focused on rewarding good behaviour and promoting making good choices.

Positive classroom management

Did you know that you can improve student behaviour drastically by staying positive with children? Using positive reinforcement in the classroom can be a teacher’s best method of classroom management. The process focuses on reward, not punishment, on recognising positive, helpful behaviour and not disruptive behaviour. 

Golden Time does just that. By noticing and rewarding behaviours across the week that guides students to making progress and being considerate of those around them, this positive classroom management tool is one for any adult looking to transform the way they manage behaviour. Turn it around!

These strategies:

  • Save time
  • Help teachers and parents to thrive
  • Help student wellbeing
  • Improve academic outcomes and home environments
  • Reinforces positive behaviour for a long time to come (by providing explicit teaching for students)
  • Are easy to use

It works as a positive behaviour management tool used for encouragement (as seen in research from the University of Missouri’s Tim Lewis), and not for consequences. So why not try this kind of strategy like Golden Time at home?


Golden Time at home


So what about how to use teachers’ best-kept secret at home as well as at school? There are plenty of ways you can let Golden Time shine in your space, too. 

All you need is to create a visual prompt to ensure that children know where they sit on the chart. You could try a star chart (where stars = positive behaviours, and students have to ensure that a certain number isn’t taken away) or a sun symbol, where across the week their peg is moved to the partly covered sun: a warning that they’re in danger of losing some of their golden time. 

If they then return to following the golden rules, the teacher moves the peg back to the sun with a quick ‘well done!’ or ‘good choice.’ However, if your child continues to misbehave and their peg is moved to the cloud, they lose a portion of their Golden Time on your decided day. 

Leave your chart in a central place like the kitchen, so your child knows exactly where to look. Colourful, visual charts are also very important for neurodiverse children like those with dyslexia so that they know where they stand. 

But it’s not all over so quickly. It’s important that you have a warning system in place to ensure that your child is aware of where they stand in terms of rewards. They’ll need time to properly reflect and amend their behaviour!


How do children earn Golden Time?


Remember, Golden Time is fully given and entitled at the beginning of the week, they don’t need to earn it at all! It’s about taking away minutes from Golden Time if expectations aren’t met, which means it becomes much more focused on the child making choices. 

At home, children might not be meeting your expectations or being considerate to family members. These are the common pitfalls which can lead to a reduction in Golden Time:

  • Being mean to you or to siblings (not practising emotional intelligence)
  • Not tidying up their space
  • Illustrating poor behaviour at school
  • Lying or making up a story 
  • Not listening to instructions
  • Breaking something on purpose or hurting someone

Instead, focus on promoting the traits of being gentle, kind and helpful, listening, working hard and looking after belongings at home and the attention will be diverted away from more challenging behaviours like those above.

Golden Time is not another playtime! Common problems include treating it as another break with nothing special on offer, using it as a reward for good schoolwork rather than good behaviour, or taking it away as a whole-class punishment. This can make it less effective in promoting positive behaviour.

Think carefully about what you want to do with your child at the end of the week for this great hour. Cook together? Play outside? Do arts and crafts? Watch a part of a movie together? You could even build up a separate Golden Time chart for a bigger activity at the end of the month like a forest trip, going to the seaside, visiting a bookstore or going bowling. 


What happens if one child doesn’t get Golden Time?


It’s not all positive! If (after a warning) a child considers exerting behaviour that doesn’t meet your expectations, they will lose some of Golden Time (no more than about five minutes, and as little as a minute for very young children!). It’s about the clear message it sends; that they are responsible for their behavioural choices. 

Children should also have the opportunity to earn some of that time back. They could have a chat with you about what they could do to improve their behaviour next time (you choose!) and make a goal or target to do better the next week. It’s very important that your child reflects and realises what consequences their actions may have had. 

Remember to not mass-remove Golden Time if you have more than one child. Individual children are responsible for their own behaviour, and giving consequences to all children for the mistakes of one isn’t the best course of action for equality at home. 

Critics have said Golden Time can be challenging because it doesn’t encourage risk-taking. This doesn’t hold up! By encouraging positive behaviour, children are actually more likely to develop their understanding that they have agency over their own lives, and help them to achieve their potential.

Golden Time has great learning benefits. It improves behaviour, motivation, and well-being leads to independence and responsibility and can change your relationship with your child. 

Spend more time having fun with your children and being happy by giving Golden Time a go, and remember, consistency is key. 

At GoStudent, we reward behaviour positively and look for ways to keep our online classroom space happy and focused on students’ wellbeing. Book a free trial lesson to find the right tutor for your child.