The Joys of Modern Life: 61: Homework

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SO, THE kids are back at school and already starting to tax you with their quantum physics homework. It's no good rolling your eyes to heaven - because homework is a "good thing".

The challenge for your children is to avoid homework at all costs, without getting caught. This requires the kind of talents that will help them in the increasingly competitive job market. With computers in the home, it has never been easier to hone man-management and delegation skills by getting siblings and parents to help out with the homework - and they need no longer worry about disguising the handwriting.

Last year I got an A minus for my stepdaughter's "What I did in half term" essay. In return, she babysat her half-brother and little sister for a few hours. She learnt that looking after children isn't easy, and has opted instead for a career in advertising.

"You may have been an academic failure, but that doesn't mean your children can't succeed," they say. So turn off the television and have a go at those sums. After years of making pounds 40 of child benefit pay pounds 80- worth of bills, sort of, you may be better than you think.

The best advice, however, is to read to your children. This will help them develop narrative. "I was abducted by aliens" or "The dog ate my comprehension notes" is just a short step away from "I'll have that report on your desk by Friday", or "Your cheque is in the post".