Challenge him to get as many correct answers as possible while racing you (to be fair, he should be allotted twice the time as you) in case a third-grader is working on multiplication problems. And then work with him on those and make it a fun way to connect with your child after a long day if you’re lucky enough to get fun puzzles and brain-teasers such as Sudoku puzzles in the homework packet. One word of caution: Try not to take over and do the problems yourself. Your child needs guidance and help getting the right answers -- not the answers themselves. Be sure to check his work every day, and try to make that a fun routine as well. Challenge your child to find mistakes on your work, or have him check his own work to see if he can spot any errors. Your child will follow suit in case you take a relaxed approach to the homework and adopt a fun attitude about it. Learning can often be more fun for kids when they are able to relate the material to things in their own lives.

More great homework habits that work

For instance, continue the discussion over dinner in case your child has to read about immigrants and answer questions about them. Talk about your own family’s immigrant experience (“Great-Grandma came from Italy and had to work very hard” or some such) or talk about the ways our world has been shaped by immigrants (“What would life be like today without pizza?”). You can help your child see that it is not some separate chore or extra work that they are forced to do by making homework something that is an extension of learning and life. Younger children tend to work better when an adult is nearby, ready to answer questions or help work out a problem. You can sit down with your own work or a magazine article or bills -- whatever quiet activity you can do while your child does her homework. You know the importance of stretching your legs or taking a break here and there during your workday. Often just walking away from your desk for a few minutes can do wonders to help your concentration and improve mood. The importance of breaks applies to kids as well, and may be even more important because kids tend to be more active and full of energy than adults. Schedule a few breaks into homework time, whether it’s a five-minute break to have some fruit and cheese and crackers or other healthy snack or a few minutes to play with a pet or water the plants. Some kids can experience more stress over homework and schoolwork than other children. Check with other parents to see whether any other kids are having similar problems in case you see signs of stress in your child or your child is experiencing difficulty with the workload. For instance, kids in first grade are usually not expected to spend more than a half hour on homework each day.