A father has become a school sensation after his puzzle books helped thousands of children with their homework.
Ash Sharma, from Great Barr, Birmingham, has been credited with making homework fun again after his maths and English crossword books were snapped up by families across the country.
The father-of-three said the concept for his Skips Crossword Puzzle books came about when daughter Nicole was struggling to concentrate while revising for her 11+ exams last year.
Mr Sharma, who works in property, said: “After a long day at school it was very hard to get Nicole to sit and focus on doing her homework. Like other kids, there were so many other things to concentrate on, like computers, Facebook and games, so I started to look at ways of using the work she had been set and turning it into something more enjoyable.
“I had an idea to convert some of her English work into a crossword, and Nicole soon began to see doing the crosswords as a fun activity, rather than school work.
“There is so much pressure on children these days to be successful, with league tables and entrance exams, that the crosswords put some enjoyment into learning.”
Word soon spread among his daughter’s classmates at Highclare School in Sutton Coldfield about the crosswords, and parents began to request copies for their own children.
“I suppose it was then I realised that this was something other families could use,” added Mr Sharma, who runs a property business.
“My crossword book was very much focused on the parent-child interaction than other guides which were about the parent-teacher relationship.”
Mr Sharma, along with his brother Harsh and business associate Helen Lees, teamed up with a printing firm to produce the first Skips 11+ Crossword Puzzles book, which follows Key Stage 2 of the National Curriculum and focuses on grammar, sentence construction and verbal reasoning.
The English book is aimed at the thousands of children who sit entrance exams for independent and grammar schools every year, and have been developed with the help of 11+ tutors.
Mr Sharma said: “We got a branch of Waterstones in Sutton Coldfield to take an order of 20 books, and within a week, they’d sold the lot and we’re now stocked in Waterstones in Birmingham city centre too.
“I went to a book fair in Earl’s Court the other week and it made me think how far this had come – it was never a business venture, I just wanted to help my daughter.”
Mr Sharma also sells his books through a dedicated website, which sold more than 1,000 copies of his latest Skips 11+ Crossmaths puzzle book when it was published earlier this month.
Mr Sharma is now in talks with a major publisher to produce study guides for other ages.
He said: “The response has been incredible, I just can’t believe how much the idea has been picked up.
“We get emails from parents saying they’d tried everything to get their son or daughter to pick up a book at home, but now they’ve tried the crosswords books they can’t get their noses out of a book.”