Back To School: Homework Helpers


Not all that long ago, a kid needed to trek to a brick-and-mortar library to get help with homework that went beyond what parents (and the home encyclopedia) could tell them. These days, though, you can use a PC or mobile device at home or anywhere else to find reams of great web-based resources for all grade levels. These sites provide everything from one-on-one tutoring to writing tips, from online research materials to videos and games for learning math concepts. Best of all, many of these homework helpers are free. Here are four of the best.

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Time for Kids Homework Helper

Whether kids are in elementary school or in college, much the work they do outside of class involves writing papers. Time, the news magazine for adults, runs a colorful and engaging website for kids, with a homework helper that focuses mainly on various aspects of writing.

An "A+ Papers" section offers guidelines for writing book reports, biographies, literary essays, how-to articles, and more. Students can use an interactive template to practice their writing skills online. Other tools include a grammar wizard, a rhyming dictionary, a thesaurus, and tips for improving writing style. Kids can also read articles written by middle-school-age "kid reporters." Who knows? After your kids learn the ropes at this site, they might want to apply to become reporters for Time.


BJ Pinchbeck's Homework Helper

Other homework helper sites offer resources such as reference materials for writing term papers, researching science or history topics, and understanding classic novels and theatrical plays.

BJ Pinchbeck's Homework Helper provides links to dozens of homework helper sites, most of which are free. The sites are divided into four categories: science, math, English, and computers. One site, from Brightstorm, provides video explanations of math concepts at levels ranging from pre-algebra to calculus. Another, Novelguide, offers scene-by-scene analyses of Hamlet and other plays by Shakespeare. Other sites supply guidance on Java or C++ programming.

This is a great homework tool for students at all grade levels. Still, younger children might need help from parents or teachers in finding the most age-appropriate resources. BJ Pinchbeck's Homework Helper is easy to read and well organized, in its way, but it contains few hints as to the grade levels that specific sites are best suited for.


Ace Homework Help

Sometimes even the best students can benefit from one-on-one help with homework assignments. A number of tutoring websites now offer such online assistance 24/7. Geared mostly toward high school and college students, Ace Homework Help is one of the most highly regarded sites in this category.

Experts are on hand for consultation on just about every conceivable subject, whether it be physics, statistics, English, or something else. All tutors hold verified degrees in their designated subject areas. Users can view ratings and reviews by other students before contacting an instructor.

On the downside, this site is not free. And students won't know how much they'll be charged until they get in touch with the tutor. Also, telephone support is not available.


Homework Helper Refdesk

Like BJ Pinchbeck's site, Homework Helper Refdesk is a trove of links to resources offering various sorts of homework help. There's very little overlap in content between the two sites. Refdesk is organized into four sections, for grades 1–6, 7–8, 9–12, and college. Most of the links, however, are located in sections called "Tools for Research," "General Reference - All Grades," and "Other Homework Links."

Since RefDesk's user interface is text-based, the site isn't especially friendly to kids accustomed to slick graphics. Parents and teachers, though, can help young children to find links to engaging content such as AplusMath, an interactive helper for multiplication tables and other elementary math skills, and Ben's Guide to the U.S. Government.

High school and college students should find it easy enough to use this site to track down resources that will come in handy for them, such as a good online dictionary, thesaurus, or guide to writing term papers.

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