There are things kids need to learn: math facts, phonics, putting history into a logical order, the scientific method. Needing to learn something should not automatically equate to using boring rote drills. For preschoolers and elementary age children, there is no reason why learning the basics should not be entertaining and instructive. No matter if you are a teacher, a parent trying to navigate homework or a homeschooler, with a bit of thought and planning you can make learning the basics fun while you also make the basics stick for your child!
The majority of parents, and even teachers, are math phobic. They did not enjoy math and they don't expect their children to do more than endure math. This does not have to be the case! Use manipulatives (legos, jelly beans, raisins) to help your child “see” the concepts he is supposed to be learning. If your child is fidgety, allow him to practice math skills on a dry erase board or out in the driveway with colorful sidewalk chalk.
Go ahead and experiment! Do an Internet search on the concept your child is learning and include the words easy experiments. At home you can often do experiments with simple household items that a teacher with 20+ students could not attempt. Go ahead, let your child drop an egg or a watermelon off of the roof when he's learning about gravity. Document it. Seeing is believing for most kids.
Your child is never too old to be read to. Make it a part of your evening routine for the family members to read aloud. Kids can listen, understand and enjoy books far beyond their reading comprehension. With young kids, step outside the Disney-zone. Read the stories that started it all! Peter Pan, The Jungle Book, The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Follow up by watching the Disney version and talking about the differences.
Look at concepts your child is learning in school or at home as if they are brand new. You will likely find that things you did not like as a child in school are actually fun and interesting with the right spin. And remember, half of the fun of learning new things with your child is trying something new and having it flop! Keep your sense of humor. Show your child, firsthand, that sometimes you have to try three, four, five times until you achieve success. In the end, no matter where your child goes to school, the ultimate goal is to raise an independent, curious lifelong learner.