Well, I do know a foolproof way of getting the children talking about a book you're reading out loud - read it at bedtime - when they're actually in bed but before they're really tired.
When I was married, my husband used to complain that my head would hit the pillow and straight away my brain would start buzzing with things we have to discuss now
. My children are exactly the same.
The key, I've found, with getting work done thoroughly is making sure there isn't something more interesting they can do straight away afterwards. I know a lot of people get good results by saying - no tv/computer/whatever until after the work is done but I find that, with my two, that leads to a lot of skimping and blank looks and 'ok' work - with a fair amount of clock watching thrown in.
If one has to tidy the bedroom while the other does mental maths ....