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Easing Homework Struggles – Before They Start

Free tools that help kids, parents get homework done

As a new school year looms, some students and parents might just be gearing up for another year of battles -- over homework struggles. In one Stanford University report, nearly 100 percent of high school students surveyed said homework was a stressor -- and these were students in 10 high-performing high schools in upper-middle-class California communities, who likely have the resources to get any help they need.

But, it’s not just students struggling. In another study from the National Center for Family Literacy, half of parents with kids in first grade to twelfth grade said they have trouble helping their kids with their homework.

Some parents can afford to turn to tutors to help ease homework struggles. But, for most parents, the cost of hiring a tutoring is simply too high.

Luckily, there are some free resources to help families grappling with homework anxieties that don’t break the budget. Here’s where to find them:

School Resources

When homework struggles appear, your student’s teacher should be the first person to ask for help. Set up a meeting to find out if there are supplemental materials that can help your child. Also, ask whether your school district offers free homework resources beyond the classroom. Many do.

New York City public schools, for instance, offers the free Dial-A-Teacher program where kids can call in on most weekday afternoons with homework questions. Chicago Public Schools has a similar dial-in program. And, in North Carolina, Wake County Public School System offers a Homework Help series, with tips for some middle school and high school classes.

Also, depending on your income, your child may qualify for free tutoring through the federal No Child Left Behind law. Students who qualify for free or reduced-priced lunch and attend a Title 1 school may be eligible. has the details.

Community Resources

Check out the resources available at your local library. Sure, you’ll find books that might just help explain the difference between “mean” and “median” in your math problem. Or, you could pick up the next chapter book that your English teacher will assign. But many libraries also offer free homework help for students who need a boost. In fact, according to an American Library Association survey of libraries, nearly 97 percent offer some kind of homework assistance -- either online or in-person. Check with a library near you to find out what’s offered.

Online Resources

Thanks to the internet, there are a bevy of free -- and incredibly helpful -- resources online that kids and parents can turn to when they are stuck on a math problem or can’t remember how to footnote that research paper. Here are a few …

  • Kahn Academy offers help on a variety of topics, including math by your child’s grade.
  • has homework help for everything from basic math to statistics and calculus.
  • Read Write Think offers resources for kids who need help with English and language arts.
  • Guide to Grammar and Writing gets into the nitty-gritty of topics such as sentence parts and tense consistency and offers more than 170 interactive quizzes.
  • HippoCampus offers thousands of free videos on more than a dozen subjects.
  • CliffNotes’ online site offers free articles on college applications, writing and grammar, foreign languages, math, sciences and more for middle school and high school students.

Homework struggles are no fun for anyone. But, staying on top of those daily assignments -- and getting help as soon as problems appear -- will help to ensure a smoother academic year for all.



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