Quick, solve this word problem: John had 30 coins. Some were nickels and the rest were dimes; their value added up to \$2.10. How many were nickels and how many were dimes?*

What would you do if Junior asked your help figuring out that algebra homework? "If parents are confident in the content area and have that kind of knowledge, they can be a guide," says Merryl Rogers, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction for the South Huntington School District.

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But what about when Mom and Dad are stumped? When the homework gets challenging, the challenged look for outside assistance. Here are some free local options for homework help.

Many libraries have after-school, evening or weekend programs available to students in the local school district. The Patchogue-Medford Library, for instance, has a certified teacher to help elementary school children with homework from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. every Wednesday and 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Saturdays. Students should bring assignments; parents are welcome. From 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Thursdays, math homework help is available to students in grades 6 through 12. Baldwin Public Library has a certified teacher available Monday through Thursday from 4 to 6 p.m. for students in grades 2 through 12. Call your library for your district's local programming.

The Brookside Elementary School in Baldwin, for instance, works with the Future Teachers Club at Baldwin Senior High School, bringing about a dozen high school students to the elementary school every Monday after school to help kindergarten through fifth-graders one-on-one. This is the second year of the program. "Not only are they homework helpers, but they become mentors to the children," says Brookside principal Ivy Sherman. Check with your child's guidance department for similar programming, or for volunteer tutors.

Suffolk Homework Help is a live, online service available to any student in grades kindergarten through 12 in Suffolk County who has a public library card. Visit suffolkhomeworkhelp.org seven days a week from 2 to 11 p.m. Tutors are available to conduct the session in English or Spanish. "Students can go on with a specific question in math, science, English or social studies. You type, and they type right back to you," says Danielle Paisley, head of Young Adult/Audio Visual Services at the Patchogue-Medford Library. "They won't give you the answer, but they'll work through the problem with the student. They'll ask where the student's getting stuck."

More than 50 of Nassau County's libraries also subscribe to an interactive service that offers online help to students with library cards. It's available from 2 to 10 p.m. seven days a week. Visit nassaulibrary.org.

HELP BY PHONE

Dial-A-Teacher, 212-777-3380, is for elementary and middle school students. Classroom teachers are available from 4 to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday; they also can answer parents' questions on how to best help kids. Teachers speak 12 languages. The hotline is run by the New York City's United Federation of Teachers, in conjunction with the city's education department.