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HELPING HANDS WITH HOMEWORK

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by Kathleen Cuneo, Ph.d.

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Ask any parent of school-age children what can strike more fear in their heart than a child riding a bike with no hands, and they’ll likely answer: “Homework”. Sure, when we were students we may have aced trigonometry in high school or blithely spelled “paleontologist” in the third grade, but that seems eons ago. We want our offspring to do their nightly homework and do it well, but why it is when they begin unpacking their backpacks we sometimes feel a bit panicky? Before your eyes glaze over the next time your son asks for help with the Pythagorean theorem, have you and your child check out a few of the many homework helper sites in cyberspace. The wealth of homework-related resources on the Web can be a boon for successful (and struggling!) students and parents.

• FirstGov For Kids www.kids.gov/k_homework.htm — Quick! Need to know the capital of Alabama? Stumped about what a suffragette does? Heartburn over a history question? This super site points kids in the right direction with links for all ages to help with homework, including Encyclopedia Smithsonian, Kids in the House (where kids learn about the legislative process) and the Library of Congress’ Today in History site. FirstGov is a very helpful site with a strong emphasis on social studies and history.

• EdHelper.com www.edhelper.com — Developed by teachers for teachers, this Web stop can be a marvelous place for parents who want to give their children extra practice in everything from algebra to vocabulary to science problems. Look for more than 1,600 word and critical thinking problems, and exams and puzzles for standardized tests. Plus there are loads of links (by subject category) to other educational sites.

• B.J. Pinchbeck’s Homework Helper www.school.discovery.com/homeworkhelp/bjpinchbeck — This site touts “If you can’t find it here, then you just can’t find it!” That may well be true. Developed by a 12-year-old boy and his dad four years ago, this award-winning site is for students who need help with homework, and covers everything from foreign language to current affairs. The site, now run in conjunction with Discovery.com, features games, research tools, great links and a fun environment.

• Scholastic www.scholastic.com/families/index.asp — This site is great for parents seeking grade-specific information on their child’s development in school and covers kindergarten through middle school. Parents can find information on helping poor readers and nourishing good study habits, as well as subject information and a special Homework Help section at each grade level. Kids may like to wander over to the Kid’s Section for educational games, puzzles and kid news.

• Bunsen Bob’s Science Hunt www.sciencehunt.com – Focusing on science projects, this site is divided into ideas for high schoolers and those in eighth grade and under. Look for advice on where to conjure up project ideas, finding materials, organizing your time and great tips on building award-winning displays. Also provides a variety of other science project idea sites.

• Ask Dr. Math www.mathforum.org/dr.math — Ask Dr. Math is a cool question-and-answer service for math students (ages elementary to high school) and parents. A searchable archive is available by level and topic, as well as summaries of frequently asked questions, with topics ranging from geometry to place values to long division. The site is maintained by Drexel University in Philadelphia.

• How Stuff Works www.howstuffworks.com — Learn how everything works! From digital cameras to identity theft, this site is a treasure trove of useful and searchable information. Want to know how a Venus flytrap works, about the secrets of fiber optics, or what exactly is a light year? Students will no doubt find it here.

• Daily Grammar www.dailygrammar.com – This site is like having an English teacher in your computer! Older kids can sign up for this free email service to receive grammar lessons five days a week or simply use the site’s archive section to find lessons on everything from adjective clauses to adverb infinitives. A 30-year English teacher veteran in New York is the author of each lesson. KATHLEEN E. CONROY has two daughters and is associate editor of ‘Charlotte Parent’.


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