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INDEX for Effective Study Skills

One of your sworn duties as a parent, of course, is to know everything, or at least make a good show of it. Sometimes the job is easy, such as explaining how Santa delivers eight billion presents in a single night, but what do you do when your child offers up a real challenge—such homework headaches as long division, say, or parsing a sentence? If you're like most adults, such basic nuggets of know-how have long since been buried under years of ER reruns and the reckless use of calculators.

Thanks to the Internet, you're not alone anymore. There are scads of Web sites devoted to helping children and their befuddled parents brush up on the three R's (and history, science and social studies to boot). Some of these sites are specifically devoted to homework-stressed kids and offer links to hundreds of Web sites on nearly any imaginable subject. Others are ultra-specific, such as a site where your kids can relive the Cuban Missile Crisis via video and audio clips. These are the sites we visit when we're in a homework bind.

Please keep in mind that, due to the fast-evolving nature of the Internet, Web sites are subject to change. Originally published August 1999. Updated September 2000.


One of the first--and still one of the best--overall sites that indexes helpful Web pages by subject is B. J. Pinchbeck's Homework Helper (see "Sites and Software" for all Internet links). B.J.'s site has some genuine street cred--he's a kid himself! With help from his dad, B.J. has assembled links to more than 625 educational and entertaining sites organized into topics, each link with a brief summary of the corresponding site's merits by the 13-year-old homework king himself.

But B.J.'s directory, including as it does many sites intended for upper-level readers, is really for kids from the fourth grade on. Younger children will find more appropriate links at KidsClick! This directory, created by "a bunch of librarians," is nearly as comprehensive but contains links mostly to sites designed specifically for early middle schoolers. (A warning is in order: Although the reading level of the sites linked here may be for kids, we suggest some parental guidance since some of the sites cover adult subjects--the birds and the bees, for example--presented for kids.) There are also links to sites on hobbies, pop culture and even chores--including a great guide to doing your own laundry.

Other great all-in-one resources you might like to try to include StudyWeb, which claims to have more than 100,000 "research quality" links, many of them appropriate for or designed for kids; Schoolwork Ugh!, which has a link to an excellent tutorial on using the Internet for research; Ask Jeeves for Kids, which will answer your child's specific question with a child-friendly encyclopedia answer plus related Web sites; and the Internet Public Library Youth Division.


Math problems are probably the hardest for parents to assist their kids with, which is why it's nice that The Math Forum Student Center is perhaps the best single-topic help site on the Internet. Here you'll find pages devoted to helping you solve nearly any math problem, from elementary school right on up through graduate-level work. One of the most useful areas here is Math Tips & Tricks, which explains dozens of simple rules for doing complex math. These kinds of shortcuts, in fact, along with the puzzles and math facts found here, might even be enough to turn a math-hater into a math-lover. Another great feature is the Ask Dr. Math section, a searchable database of questions submitted by teachers and students with answers provided by very patient math experts.


Even some professional writers, ahem, aren't always sure what a prepositional phrase looks like. So it's hard to expect a kid to keep all that stuff straight. For them (and us!), several sites come to the rescue. Our favorite is Exploring English, a straightforward, kid-friendly guide to all things grammatical. Here you'll find diagrams showing the parts of speech, a rundown of types of sentences (remember compound complex sentences?), and all those other picky things English teachers insist we all memorize at least once.

A less simplified, but more comprehensive, rundown of the same material is at HyperGrammar, an online grammar textbook. It's pretty dry, but it makes up for that by having lots of examples.


Since the Internet was created by geeks, it's no surprise that it's loaded with science sites. And since the topic is so vast, your best bet for finding help with a specific problem or question is to browse through one of the general directories such as B.J. Pinchbeck's Homework Helper. If, however, you'd just like to have some brain-powered fun, head straight to Reeko's Mad Scientist Lab. Here you'll find instructions on building miniature hovercrafts, working volcanoes and many more irresistible home experiments, plus answers to such eternal questions as "Do cats have belly buttons?"

In the real world, we take kids to science museums to learn about the subject. Now two of the best such museums in the country have Web sites to match. Philadelphia's Franklin Institute has excellent online exhibits as well as a nice selection of simple, grade-rated experiments kids can do at home. San Francisco's Exploratorium boasts a collection of Science Snacks (their term for quick experiments), of which most kids won't be able to eat, so to speak, just one.

Anyone seeking info on the solar system need look no further than The Nine Planets. Kids can take an overall multimedia tour of the planets (with sound, images and movies), or zoom in on a particular subject. For an outstanding introduction to chemistry, try Chem4Kids. Simple language, clear and fun illustrations and a great sense of humor make for the best chemistry lessons we've ever seen. Lastly, check out every kid's favorite science subject, dinosaurs, at Zoom Dinosaurs, an online interactive textbook on the terrible lizards.

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The study of people, their cultures and histories, and the places they live is, like science, a vast field, and the Internet has opened up some amazing new ways to explore it. For starters, students can now instantly access English-language newspapers, magazines and television stations from all over the world--10,000 of them, in fact—by visiting And if you'd like to see a map of the place you're interested in, there's no better place than Atlapedia, an online atlas beefed up with excellent text briefs on every country. The Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection, hosted by the University of Texas in Austin, also has modern maps of every country—plus dozens of cities worldwide—many produced by the United States government, so kids can download and use them for free. But the real gems here are in its vast collection of special interest maps: maps from old encyclopedias, maps showing the distribution of Native American tribes before settlers arrived, exploration and settlement maps, maps of historic sites and battlefields and more.

For history help, we like to visit HyperHistory Online, which contains an interactive time line--parts of which can be clicked for further information--to show the progress (or lack thereof) of civilization over the past 3,000 years. Older kids writing American history reports will want to check out the Internet Public Library's Presidents of the United States, which summarizes the essential decisions and events of every president's term, provides links to online biographies and gives the full text of memorable speeches.


Besides the myriad of Web sites on the subjects that kids study, there are a couple of sites covering perhaps the most important topic of all: how to study.

The group of Study Guides hosted by the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota, is comprehensive. It covers goal-setting, managing stress, paying attention, memorization techniques and more. Although it is written for college students, parents can easily adapt the guidelines here for children of any age.


Ask Dr. Math
Ask Jeeves for Kids
Atlapedia Online
B. J. Pinchbeck's Homework Helper
Exploratorium Science Snacks
Exploring English
The Franklin Institute
Grammar Rock
HyperHistory Online
IPL Youth Division
The Math Forum Student Center
The Nine Planets
Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection
Presidents of the United States
Reeko's Mad Scientist Lab
Schoolwork Ugh!
St. Thomas University Study Guides StudyWeb
Zoom Dinosaurs