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Online Homework Helpers
Sites to help your child are only a click away
by Pauline Clark
Link-Up Digital
October 15, 2002


Does your daughter have a school science project due and she hasn’t been able to find her way through all the extraneous material on the Internet? Maybe your son needs help with mathematics that you’ve long forgotten how to do and you’d appreciate some online help?

This article will show you how to zero in on the sites that provide this kind of information.

Precautions
Many of the reference and homework helper sites are kid-safe, though you should exercise caution before you let your children loose on the Internet, even when you are certain they are using kid-safe sites. 

Filtering software could reduce the chances of youngsters being exposed to potentially harmful or undesirable sites, but it’s not foolproof. Your best bet is to educate yourself and your child about the dangers of the Internet and to monitor your child’s Internet time.

If you’re not sure what being cybersmart means, visit Cybersmart Kids Online [http://www.cybersmartkids.com.au/] for information and tips. There’s a special section just for parents concerning possible risks for a child using the Internet. You’ll also find child-friendly information about the Internet.

Now that you know about potential online dangers and how to avoid them, you’ll want to monitor your child’s homework. By keeping track of the research they need to do and how they are progressing at it, your child will appreciate your interest and take more pride in their work.

Don’t begrudge the hours of homework your child needs to complete. Think about the benefits of homework assignments. Homework not only helps children develop good study habits, it reinforces school lessons and allows them to explore subjects further. It also gives them a chance to learn to use reference materials. Learning to work independently and to use time management skills is important these days because of the distractions children are bound to meet up with on the Internet.

It’s a good idea to keep your computer in a central location where you can easily see the screen at a quick glance. An Internet connection in a child’s bedroom should be closely monitored. In addition, your child should be made well aware of the dangers of the Internet.

Search Strategies
You and your child should practice effective search strategies. Effective searching includes knowing where to look for the information you need.

Start with a kid-safe search engine. You’ve probably used Yahoo! [http://www.yahoo.com] but have you tried the kid-safe Yahooligans! guide [http://www.yahooligans.com]? Load this page onto your browser window and you’ll have several options available including a Yahooligans! Reference section, the School Bell section, parent and teacher guides, and a search box to conduct your search in. When carrying out individual searches in the Reference section, students will be able to choose the reference source they want to search in, whether it’s a dictionary, an encyclopedia, or one of the other sources listed in the drop-down menu.

Ask Jeeves [http://www.askjeeves.com] also has a portal site just for kids. Ask Jeeves for Kids [http://www.ajkids.com] has a study resource section, a news resource section, and a search box where kids can type in a complete question, instead of just keywords, to conduct a search. The study resource section has a selection of tools that includes a dictionary, an atlas, math help, and other reference materials.

Several other Web search tools have been put together just for kids and will provide sufficient research information and study tools for most of your child’s assignments and projects.

Kidsclick [http://www.kidsclick.org] is a Web search for kids put together by librarians at the Ramapo Catskill Library System and maintained by the Colorado State Library. The site has a kid-friendly interface, and while it does not block bad sites, it guides kids to sites with good information. The site’s main page is broken down into categories (according to the Dewey Decimal System), and there’s a search box available to conduct keyword searches. One of the nice things about Kidsclick is that there’s no advertising.

If you’re still trying to learn about the Internet and searching techniques, take time to read the information at the Kidsclick World of Web Searching pages [http://www.worldsofsearching.org]. You can also access these pages by clicking on the Search Lessons link on the main Kidsclick page. These pages detail some search techniques that will help you sort through the estimated 800 million plus Web pages that exist on the Internet. The instructions are easy for kids and computer newbies to use.

Homework Help Sites
Now that you’ve got searching down to an art, you’re ready to venture into some of the portal sites that have been created for assisting with homework.

Discovery Channel’s Discovery School [http://school.discovery.com] has sections for students, teachers, and parents. The Student section takes you to BJ Pinchbeck’s Homework Helpers, with more than 700 links. Pinchbeck’s page is broken down into sections according to subjects and includes the usual math, science, news, and foreign language subject heads as well as a variety of other school-related topics. Look for handy features like lesson plans, Web math, brain boosters. and worksheet generators in the parent section. Teachers, meanwhile, will find an assortment of teaching tools for classroom use as well as to advance their own skills.

Fact Monster [http://www.Factmonster.com] has daily features that can be both educational and distracting, but selecting a category from the side of the page should lead you directly to the homework-specific help you’re seeking. Your child can always spend a bit of time discovering the other aspects of this site once his homework is completed.

The Homework Spot [http://www.homeworkspot.com] is very kid-friendly. The main page includes various categories to choose from and includes a list of questions kids ask most. Clicking on questions such as “Where can I practice fractions?,” “Where can I get blank maps?,” and “Where can find I a country’s flag?” will take you to the answers. A Tips section offers some good advice on topics such as note-taking, studying, and essay writing.

KidInfo [http://www.kidinfo.com] is terrific for students but has good resources for parents and teachers as well. The site has indexes for students and for younger children too. Use the homework help section to select a school subject and you’ll be provided with a list of links and descriptions that you can go to for your material. Reference resources include atlases, calendars, museums, and a button to contact a librarian or an expert, and a section on search engines provides links to some great search engines for kids.

Homework Central [http://www.homeworkcentral.com] says it offers “the world’s best free study and research help.” Part of “bigchalk, the Education network,” the site is broken down into sections for elementary, middle school, and high school students as well as for teachers, parents, and librarians. The search box allows you to specify the Grade level you are searching for. Homework Central offers links to a wide selection of reference materials and provides instructions on how to complete various tasks. Students can go directly to the Homework Help section and find the area they’re seeking help in.

Some schools have subscriptions to search utilities, such as eLibrary [http://www.elibrary.com]. Often students can access these subscription services from home as well as at school. Have your child check with their school librarian to see if any of these services are available. eLibrary is actually partnered with numerous sources, including periodicals, books, maps, photographs, and other reference sources to provide information.
You can also try the Internet Public Library Youth Division [http://www.ipl.org/youth] online library for materials related to children aged 4 to 11.

The Internet Public Library [http://www.ipl.org/] has both a Kidspace and a Teenspace section [http://www.ipl.org/div/youthres/] that offer a variety of homework resources. Click on the category of your choice to easily access the section you’re looking for.

Secondary and higher education students especially will benefit from encyclopedia sources such as Britannica [http://www.britannica.com] and Encarta [http://encarta.msn.com].

Older students can also submit questions to Academic Assistance Access [http://www.tutoraid.org] at no cost and will usually receive an answer within 12-24 hours. Students will need an e-mail account, though, since they’ll have to subscribe to a mailing list that deals with the subject they’re seeking help in.

If you still haven’t found what you’re looking for, there are more homework links at http://www.wuziegames.com/homeworklinks.html. After that, if you still haven’t found what you need…maybe the assignment is too hard.


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