There's a joke that first made the rounds way back when they still used abacuses to do arithmetic:
Boy: I hate homework.
Mom: But why?
Boy: Because it's no fun.
Mom: Of course not, dear. That's why they call it work.
Ba-da bum. Okay, we know homework won't ever be the highlight of anybody's evening. But that doesn't mean it has to be strictly a hold-your-nose-and-plow-through activity, either.
That's why we've created a guide to helping your child do well, plus tips on making the nightly must-do a positive experience for everyone -- Mom and Dad most definitely included.
6 Tricks to Happier Homeworking
1. Foster a We're-in-This-Together Vibe
"Do your homework as your child does his," advises Trevor Romain, author of How to Do Homework Without Throwing Up. "If you have checks to write or e-mails to respond to, you're role-modeling by just sitting and doing it." Plus, if he needs help, you'll be there.
2. Divide and Conquer
"I wish I could be the one with the great math skills, but I don't think it's in the cards," says Andrea Tomkins of Ottawa, Ontario. Instead, Tomkins helps her fourth-grader with subjects she is good at (English, French, and social studies), while her husband takes math and science. "It makes the process more pleasant."
3. Let Him Take the Lead
Sometimes, asking your child to explain what he does know about a subject or problem can help him figure it out. When he comes up with something, "remark on it, so that your child feels encouraged," says Joan Rooney, a vice president at Tutor.com, an online tutoring resource.
4. Dangle the Carrot
When your child is this close to the answer but it's just not clicking, say, "I know you don't have the solution yet, but what do you think it might be?" suggests Romain. Or, "Is there a different way we can come up with it?" Ideally, you won't give him the answer, but you'll help him reach for it.
5. Remember Your Goal
It's not only to help but also to let your kid know that you're there for her. So while you generally want her to work things out for herself, Rooney advises parents not to withhold the answer if frustration is making her hate you and hate the subject and hate the world. Your relationship is much more important.
6. Know When to Quit
If either of you is threatening to disown the other, ask your spouse to step in, or limit your involvement. "This doesn't mean you have to walk away from a struggling child," says Rooney; offer to help Google things, be a sounding board, or find someone better equipped to assist her directly.