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Khan Academy Blog

Making Homework Easier: Tips and Tools for Parents 

posted on September 20, 2023

By Stephanie Yamkovenko , group manager of Khan Academy’s Digital Marketing Team.

Homework Helper Hand

Homework can present challenges for parents and children alike. You naturally want to provide support for your child’s learning journey and ensure they are reaching their full potential. In this blog post, we will delve into practical strategies to assist your child with their homework. From fostering understanding and offering encouragement to breaking down tasks and implementing rewards, we will explore a variety of effective approaches to help your child achieve academic success.

Step 1: Set Up Your Child for Success

Your child’s study environment can have a significant impact on their homework performance. Create a space that is free from distractions like the television, smartphones, or noisy siblings. The study space should be comfortable, well lit, and have all the necessary materials your child might need, such as pens, papers, and textbooks. If your child’s workspace is noisy or uncomfortable, they may have difficulty focusing on their homework, resulting in lower productivity. 

For example, if you live in a small apartment, consider setting up a designated corner with a small desk or table where your child can focus on their work. You can use dividers or screens to create a sense of privacy and minimize distractions.

If the only place to do homework is in the dining room or kitchen, try to establish a routine where the area is cleared and organized before study time. This can help signal to your child that it’s time to concentrate and be productive.

Remember, it’s important to adapt to your specific circumstances and make the best of the available space. The key is to create a dedicated study area that promotes focus and minimizes interruptions regardless of the size or location of your home.

Try Confidence Boosters for Your Child Here!

Step 2: make it fun.

It’s important to make homework fun and engaging for your child. Here are some examples of how you can do it:

  • Use games : Incorporate educational games like card games, board games, or puzzles that align with the subject your child is learning. For instance, use Scrabble to practice spelling or Sudoku to enhance problem-solving skills.
  • Turn it into a challenge : Create a friendly competition between siblings or friends by setting goals or time limits for completing assignments. Offer small rewards or incentives for accomplishing tasks.
  • Make it interactive : Use hands-on activities or experiments to reinforce concepts learned in class. For science or math, conduct simple experiments at home or use manipulatives like blocks or counters to visualize abstract concepts.
  • Use technology : Explore online educational platforms or apps that offer interactive learning experiences. There are various educational games, virtual simulations, and videos available that can make homework more enjoyable.
  • Incorporate creativity : Encourage your child to express their understanding through art, storytelling, or multimedia presentations. For example, they can create a comic strip to summarize a story or make a short video to explain a concept.

Remember, by making homework enjoyable, you can help your child develop a positive attitude towards learning.

Step 3: Use Rewards

Rewards can be a powerful motivational tool for children. Offering positive reinforcement can encourage them to complete their homework on time and to the best of their ability. 

Here are some examples of rewards our team has used with their children:

  • Extra screen time: “I use Apple parental controls to add screen time on their iPad.”
  • Access to a favorite toy: “My eight year old has a drum kit, which drives us all up the wall. (Thanks, Grandma!) But when they’ve been doing a lot of school work, we put on headphones and let him go nuts.”
  • Praise for a job well done: “Specific, measurable praise is what works best.” 
  • Trip to the park: “A trip to the park is good for everyone, especially for the kids to run around with the doggos.”
  • Movie night: “I know every word and song lyric in Moana ; we now reserve showings for good behavior.” 
  • Stickers or stamps: “Gold stars were such a thing growing up in the 80s; turns out they still work.”
  • Stay up a little later: “An extra 30 minutes feels like a whole day for my young ones; use this reward with caution as it can become the expectation!”

So, celebrate your child’s efforts and encourage them to continue doing their best.

Step 4: Break Down Difficult Tasks

When facing daunting homework assignments, follow these step-by-step instructions to break down the tasks into smaller, manageable chunks:

  • Understand the requirements and scope of the task.
  • Break down the assignment into individual tasks or sub-tasks.  
  • Splitting the middle term
  • Using formula
  • Using Quadratic formula
  • Using algebraic identities
  • Determine the order in which tasks should be completed based on importance or difficulty. 
  • Start with the easiest task. Begin with the task that seems the least challenging or time-consuming.
  • Progress to more challenging tasks: Once the easier tasks are completed, move on to more difficult ones.
  • Take breaks: Schedule short breaks between tasks to avoid burnout and maintain focus.
  • Check completed tasks for accuracy and make any necessary revisions.
  • Finish the remaining task(s) with the same approach.
  • Celebrate small achievements to boost confidence and keep motivation high.

By following these steps, you can make daunting homework assignments more manageable and less overwhelming for your child.

Step 5: Get Targeted Help

If your child is struggling with homework, it might be worth considering seeking personalized assistance. You have the option to search for professional tutors or explore online tutoring platforms, such as Khan Academy’s AI tutor, Khanmigo .

This AI tutor can offer personalized guidance and support tailored to your child’s specific needs, helping them grasp complex concepts and practice essential skills. Incorporating this approach can effectively complement your child’s learning and enhance their homework performance.

Enhance your child’s learning and boost homework performance!

Homework can be a challenge for both parents and children. But with the right approach, you can help your child overcome difficulties and support their learning. Encourage and understand your child, create a comfortable environment, break down difficult tasks, use rewards, get professional help when needed, and make it fun. With these tips and techniques, you can help your child achieve success, develop a love for learning, and achieve academic excellence. Remember that each child learns differently, so it’s essential to adjust your approach to meet their unique needs.

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Strategies to make homework go more smoothly.

Routines and incentive systems to help kids succeed

Writer: Peg Dawson, EdD, NCSP

Clinical Expert: Peg Dawson, EdD, NCSP

Here is the best guide to helping kids do homework successfully that we’ve seen, published by the National Association of School Psychologists on their website, NASPonline.org . Our thanks to NASP for sharing it with us.

There are two key strategies parents can draw on to reduce homework hassles. The first is to establish clear routines around homework, including when and where homework gets done and setting up daily schedules for homework. The second is to build in rewards or incentives to use with children for whom “good grades” is not a sufficient reward for doing homework.

Homework Routines

Tasks are easiest to accomplish when tied to specific routines. By establishing daily routines for homework completion, you will not only make homework go more smoothly, but you will also be fostering a sense of order your child can apply to later life, including college and work.

Step 1. Find a location in the house where homework will be done. The right location will depend on your child and the culture of your family. Some children do best at a desk in their bedroom. It is a quiet location, away from the hubbub of family noise. Other children become too distracted by the things they keep in their bedroom and do better at a place removed from those distractions, like the dining room table. Some children need to work by themselves. Others need to have parents nearby to help keep them on task and to answer questions when problems arise. Ask your child where the best place is to work. Both you and your child need to discuss pros and cons of different settings to arrive at a mutually agreed upon location.

Step 2. Set up a homework center. Once you and your child have identified a location, fix it up as a home office/homework center. Make sure there is a clear workspace large enough to set out all the materials necessary for completing assignments. Outfit the homework center with the kinds of supplies your child is most likely to need, such as pencils, pens, colored markers, rulers, scissors, a dictionary and thesaurus, graph paper, construction paper, glue and cellophane tape, lined paper, a calculator, spell checker, and, depending on the age and needs of your child, a computer or laptop. If the homework center is a place that will be used for other things (such as the dining room table), then your child can keep the supplies in a portable crate or bin. If possible, the homework center should include a bulletin board that can hold a monthly calendar on which your child can keep track of longterm assignments. Allowing children some leeway in decorating the homework center can help them feel at home there, but you should be careful that it does not become too cluttered with distracting materials.

Step 3. Establish a homework time. Your child should get in the habit of doing homework at the same time every day. The time may vary depending on the individual child. Some children need a break right after school to get some exercise and have a snack. Others need to start homework while they are still in a school mode (i.e., right after school when there is still some momentum left from getting through the day). In general, it may be best to get homework done either before dinner or as early in the evening as the child can tolerate. The later it gets, the more tired the child becomes and the more slowly the homework gets done.

Step 4. Establish a daily homework schedule. In general, at least into middle school, the homework session should begin with your sitting down with your child and drawing up a homework schedule. You should review all the assignments and make sure your child understands them and has all the necessary materials. Ask your child to estimate how long it will take to complete each assignment. Then ask when each assignment will get started. If your child needs help with any assignment , then this should be determined at the beginning so that the start times can take into account parent availability. A Daily Homework Planner is included at the end of this handout and contains a place for identifying when breaks may be taken and what rewards may be earned.

Incentive Systems

Many children who are not motivated by the enjoyment of doing homework are motivated by the high grade they hope to earn as a result of doing a quality job. Thus, the grade is an incentive, motivating the child to do homework with care and in a timely manner. For children who are not motivated by grades, parents will need to look for other rewards to help them get through their nightly chores. Incentive systems fall into two categories: simple and elaborate.

Simple incentive systems. The simplest incentive system is reminding the child of a fun activity to do when homework is done. It may be a favorite television show, a chance to spend some time with a video or computer game, talking on the telephone or instant messaging, or playing a game with a parent. This system of withholding fun things until the drudgery is over is sometimes called Grandma’s Law because grandmothers often use it quite effectively (“First take out the trash, then you can have chocolate chip cookies.”). Having something to look forward to can be a powerful incentive to get the hard work done. When parents remind children of this as they sit down at their desks they may be able to spark the engine that drives the child to stick with the work until it is done.

Elaborate incentive systems. These involve more planning and more work on the part of parents but in some cases are necessary to address more significant homework problems. More complex incentives systems might include a structure for earning points that could be used to “purchase” privileges or rewards or a system that provides greater reward for accomplishing more difficult homework tasks. These systems work best when parents and children together develop them. Giving children input gives them a sense of control and ownership, making the system more likely to succeed. We have found that children are generally realistic in setting goals and deciding on rewards and penalties when they are involved in the decision-making process.

Building in breaks. These are good for the child who cannot quite make it to the end without a small reward en route. When creating the daily homework schedule, it may be useful with these children to identify when they will take their breaks. Some children prefer to take breaks at specific time intervals (every 15 minutes), while others do better when the breaks occur after they finish an activity. If you use this approach, you should discuss with your child how long the breaks will last and what will be done during the breaks (get a snack, call a friend, play one level on a video game). The Daily Homework Planner includes sections where breaks and end-of-homework rewards can be identified.

Building in choice. This can be an effective strategy for parents to use with children who resist homework. Choice can be incorporated into both the order in which the child agrees to complete assignments and the schedule they will follow to get the work done. Building in choice not only helps motivate children but can also reduce power struggles between parents and children.

Developing Incentive Systems

Step 1. Describe the problem behaviors. Parents and children decide which behaviors are causing problems at homework time. For some children putting homework off to the last minute is the problem; for others, it is forgetting materials or neglecting to write down assignments. Still others rush through their work and make careless mistakes, while others dawdle over assignments, taking hours to complete what should take only a few minutes. It is important to be as specific as possible when describing the problem behaviors. The problem behavior should be described as behaviors that can be seen or heard; for instance, complains about h omework or rushes through homework, making many mistakes are better descriptors than has a bad attitude or is lazy.

Step 2. Set a goal. Usually the goal relates directly to the problem behavior. For instance, if not writing down assignments is the problem, the goal might be: “Joe will write down his assignments in his assignment book for every class.”

Step 3. Decide on possible rewards and penalties. Homework incentive systems work best when children have a menu of rewards to choose from, since no single reward will be attractive for long. We recommend a point system in which points can be earned for the goal behaviors and traded in for the reward the child wants to earn. The bigger the reward, the more points the child will need to earn it. The menu should include both larger, more expensive rewards that may take a week or a month to earn and smaller, inexpensive rewards that can be earned daily. It may also be necessary to build penalties into the system. This is usually the loss of a privilege (such as the chance to watch a favorite TV show or the chance to talk on the telephone to a friend).

Once the system is up and running, and if you find your child is earning more penalties than rewards, then the program needs to be revised so that your child can be more successful. Usually when this kind of system fails, we think of it as a design failure rather than the failure of the child to respond to rewards. It may be a good idea if you are having difficulty designing a system that works to consult a specialist, such as a school psychologist or counselor, for assistance.

Step 4. Write a homework contract. The contract should say exactly what the child agrees to do and exactly what the parents’ roles and responsibilities will be. When the contract is in place, it should reduce some of the tension parents and kids often experience around homework. For instance, if part of the contract is that the child will earn a point for not complaining about homework, then if the child does complain, this should not be cause for a battle between parent and child: the child simply does not earn that point. Parents should also be sure to praise their children for following the contract. It will be important for parents to agree to a contract they can live with; that is, avoiding penalties they are either unable or unwilling to impose (e.g., if both parents work and are not at home, they cannot monitor whether a child is beginning homework right after school, so an alternative contract may need to be written).

We have found that it is a rare incentive system that works the first time. Parents should expect to try it out and redesign it to work the kinks out. Eventually, once the child is used to doing the behaviors specified in the contract, the contract can be rewritten to work on another problem behavior. Your child over time may be willing to drop the use of an incentive system altogether. This is often a long-term goal, however, and you should be ready to write a new contract if your child slips back to bad habits once a system is dropped.

Click here to download the homework planner and incentive sheet .

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Helping Your Gradeschooler With Homework

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During grade school, kids start getting homework for the first time to reinforce and extend classroom learning and help them practice important study skills.

By doing homework, kids learn how to:

  • read and follow directions independently
  • manage and budget time (for long-term assignments like book reports)
  • complete work neatly and to the best of their ability

It also helps them develop a sense of responsibility, pride in a job well done, and a work ethic that will benefit them well beyond the classroom.

Parents can give kids lots of homework help, primarily by making homework a priority and helping them develop good study habits.

Setting Up Shop

The kitchen or dining room table is a popular workspace for younger children; they may feel more comfortable being near you, and you can provide encouragement and assistance. Older kids might prefer to retreat to their rooms, but check in periodically and review the homework when it's completed.

Wherever kids do homework, it's important to make sure their workspace is:

  • comfortable
  • stocked with school supplies (pens, pencils, paper, stapler, calculator, ruler, etc.) and references (dictionary, thesaurus)
  • quiet and free from distractions — TV, video games, phone calls, or other family members

If kids need a computer for schoolwork, try to set it up in a common space, not in a bedroom, so you can discourage playing video games, chatting with or emailing friends, or surfing the Internet for fun during study time. Also consider parental controls , available through your Internet service provider (ISP), and software that blocks and filters any inappropriate material. Find out which sites your kids' teachers recommend and bookmark them for easy access.

A Parent's Supporting Role

When it comes to homework, be there to offer support and guidance, answer questions, help interpret assignment instructions, and review the completed work. But resist the urge to provide the right answers or complete assignments.

Focus on helping kids develop the problem-solving skills they'll need to get through this assignment and any others, and offer your encouragement as they do. They'll develop confidence and a love of learning from doing it themselves.

Here are more tips to help make homework easier for kids:

  • Establish a routine. Send the message that schoolwork is a top priority with ground rules like setting a regular time and place each day for homework to be done. And make it clear that there's no TV, phone calls, video game-playing, etc., until homework is done and checked.
  • Strategize for homework sessions. Teach kids to take stock of how much homework there is and what it involves so they can create a strategy that fits their workloads and temperaments. Some kids might want to tackle the harder assignments first — when mental energy levels are highest — while others prefer to get the easier tasks over with. By helping them approach homework with a strategy when they're young, you'll teach your kids to do that independently later. Allow them to take a break if needed, then guide them back to the homework with fresh focus and energy.
  • Instill organization skills. No one is born with great organizational skills — they're learned and practiced over time. Most kids first encounter multiple teachers and classrooms in middle school, when organization becomes a key to succeeding. Teach your child how to use a calendar or personal planner to help get organized.
  • Apply school to the "real world." Talk about how what they're learning now applies outside the classroom, such as the importance of meeting deadlines — just like adults in the work world — or how the topics in history class relate to what's happening in today's news.

Homework Problems

Especially as kids get older, homework can really start to add up and become harder to manage. These strategies can help:

  • Be there. You don't have to hover at homework time, but be around in case you're needed. If your son is frazzled by math problems he's been trying to solve for hours, for instance, suggest he take a break, maybe by shooting some hoops with you. A fresh mind may be all he needed, but when it's time to return to homework, ask how you can help.
  • Be in touch with teachers. Keep in good contact with the teachers throughout the school year to stay aware of your child's progress, especially if your child is struggling. Don't miss parent-teacher conferences and maintain an ongoing dialogue. Teachers can tell you what happens in the classroom and how to help your child succeed. You also can ask to be kept in the loop about quizzes, tests, and projects.
  • Don't forget the study skills. Study skills often aren't stressed in schools. When you're helping your child study for a test, suggest some effective study strategies, such as using flashcards, or taking notes and underlining while reading.
  • Encourage kids to reach out. Most teachers are available for extra help before or after school, and also might be able to recommend other resources. So encourage kids to ask for help, if needed, but remember that in school kids are rewarded for knowing the right answers, and no one likes to stand out by saying that they don't have them. Praise your kids for their hard work and effort.

Don't wait for report cards to find out that there are problems at school. The sooner you intervene, the sooner you can help your child get back on track.

When Kids Struggle With Homework

Consistent complaints about homework or ongoing struggles with assignments could indicate a problem.

In some cases, kids simply need to learn and practice better study habits. Be sure your kids are writing down assignments correctly and encourage them to keep a daily homework notebook, which can help both kids and parents know exactly what assignments are due and when. If a particular assignment is giving your child more trouble than others, send a note to the teacher pointing out the difficulties.

But when a kid consistently has a hard time understanding or completing homework, broader issues (such as learning disabilities, ADHD, or vision or hearing difficulties) might be interfering with academic progress.

By reviewing homework with your child and talking to your child's teacher, you can identify any learning problems and tackle them early on.

Laying the Foundation

The key to truly helping kids with homework is to know when to step in. Make sure your kids know that you're available if there's a snag, but that it's important to work independently. Encourage effort and determination — not just the grades they get.

Be a good example by showing your own love of learning. While your child does homework, do your own — read books, magazines, and newspapers; write letters, lists, and emails; use math skills to calculate expenses or balance the checkbook. By showing that learning remains important — even fun — once school's over, you'll help your kids understand that building knowledge is something to enjoy throughout life.

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A parent’s guide to homework: tips to help kids achieve school success

Lyndsey Frey - Writer September 21, 2022

A parent’s guide to homework: tips to help kids succeed

Monitoring homework can be a challenge. How do you strike the right balance when it comes to helping or prodding your child to successfully complete homework?

Katrina Hermetet, PhD , a pediatric clinical psychologist, nationally certified school psychologist and program director of Akron Children’s School Success Clinic , recommends families start with a designated homework area. Make sure this area is as distraction-free as possible and has all the materials that may be needed during homework.

In addition, she encourages families to have a scheduled “homework time” that stays relatively consistent throughout the school year. A printed schedule is helpful for younger kids to visually see their schedule for the evening. She recommends no more than a half-hour break after school, with no technology during that break. Start as early in the afternoon as possible; attention, working memory and frustration tolerance all diminish as the day goes on.

This will hopefully create a homework habit for the child and, in turn, lead to less frustration when starting school work.

“Research has shown that it takes about 30 days to change a child’s habit,” said Dr. Hermetet. “So if you start a homework habit now, by Halloween it should be a consistent family routine.”

Still struggling to get your children to complete their homework successfully? Dr. Hermetet answers your top questions to offer some guidance and reduce frustration when it comes to the “H” word.

How much parental help is appropriate?

Encourage your children to start homework independently. I recommend parents set the boundary that they will check work and help with difficult problems at the end of each assignment. This will encourage the child to independently problem-solve and self-regulate when feeling overwhelmed with a problem.

If a child is stuck on a problem, encourage your child to look back through notes, homework or the book to find a similar problem to use as a guide. This may also be a good time to take a short break. Sometimes a break will help refresh, decrease frustration, and improve problem-solving abilities once your child has calmed down.

During times when a child truly does not appear to understand and has attempted to solve the problem, it is OK to help work through the problem.

Should a parent review homework once completed?

It is good to review homework so that you are aware if your child is struggling in a particular area.

If there seems to be ongoing concerns related to comprehension, it’s a good idea for a parent to communicate challenges your child is having and discuss additional support with the teacher. Otherwise, the teacher will have no way of knowing if kids are struggling.

guide to homework

If homework becomes overwhelming, visually break down work into manageable chunks and encourage quick breaks to help your child reset.

What advice can you offer for kids that always complain about homework, or struggle with it?

Visually break work down into manageable chunks. You can fold the paper into thirds, or use a folder to cover part of the page. This can decrease the feeling of being overwhelmed and prevent them from focusing on upcoming homework problems.

Once homework has started, breaks throughout are good if your child is becoming overwhelmed or frustrated. Breaks should be 2-3 minutes and include some kind of motor activity (i.e., walk, snack, restroom break). If a child struggles to come back to homework after breaks, try switching assignments rather than leaving the table. This gives the child a break from a frustrating problem or difficult subject, and typically helps reset and refresh.

Lastly, set accuracy goals to encourage your child to give their best effort rather than rushing through work. Instead of saying, “You can have a break when you’re done with math” say, “You can have a break when you get five right in a row.”

If homework assignments become overwhelming, should parents speak up?

There are various strategies, such as starting earlier in the evening and taking breaks throughout, that may improve time management and decrease frustration during homework.

In addition, you can check to see if your school offers a homework club. Changing a child’s environment by coming home could be a problem. Some kids, especially those with underlying issues, may do better staying in school to complete their work and come home afterwards.

However, if there are ongoing problems related to your child’s comprehension of the material or ability to complete the work, talk to the teachers and explore possible problems or barriers. The child may need a hearing or sight evaluation, or may fit the criteria for a 504 or individual education plan (IEP) to address learning disorders or other behavioral concerns.

It’s a good idea to discuss the workload with the teacher if strategies to improve time management and frustration tolerance have been implemented and homework continues to negatively impact sleep and the ability to engage in enjoyable activities. As a parent, the teacher is your partner in your child’s school success. Don’t hesitate to reach out for any reason.

For more information or to schedule an appointment in Akron Children’s School Success Clinic , call 330-543-8050.

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About Lyndsey Frey - Writer

Lyndsey Frey is a freelance writer based in Cleveland, Ohio. She specializes in blogging and content publishing, search engine optimization and social media marketing. Her work has been published online and in regional and national publications, such as Inside Business, Cleveland, Akron Life and Internet Retailer magazines.

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9 Smart Tips for Homework Success

Help kids manage their homework load with these strategies..

Even children who enjoy doing homework can lose their enthusiasm for it over the course of the school year, and find ways to stall or avoid doing it. But after-school study time is important, both for reinforcing the day’s learning and for lending structure to your child’s day.

“Homework isn’t just about academics,” says Karen Burke, SVP of Data Analysis and Academic Planning, Scholastic Education Solutions. “It can help students create routines and build responsible behaviors.”

Playing cop rarely works — micromanaging and nagging only make kids feel incapable or frustrated. Instead, think of yourself as a coach and cheerleader. 

“Generally, the idea of homework should be to help students set goals, build independence, and practice applying the knowledge they are gaining,” says Burke.

To help you get there, we asked teachers and parents to share their strategies for solving the most common homework struggles. These 10 tips will bring harmony back into your homework routine, whether your child is a kindergartner or 5th grader, perfectionist or procrastinator.

1. Do It Early

Give your child a time frame in which to get down to business. In your household, this may be before or after extracurriculars.

Work with your child to identify the time when their energy and focus are at their peak. This gives your child some control over their schedule. (Some kids need a longer break after school, and others need to start right away to keep the momentum going.) 

However, plan on 5 p.m. being the latest they can start their homework.

2. Phone a Friend

From kindergarten onward, kids should have a list of three or four classmates they can call on when they forget an assignment, or even just to ask a question. Study buddies can provide motivation for each other to get the work done. 

3. Collaborate to Build Confidence

When kids don’t understand a concept right away, they may feel like they’re not smart enough and start to shut down, says Sigrid Grace, a 2nd grade teacher in Michigan. 

Short-circuit negative thinking by sitting down with your child and figuring out the first problem in the assignment together. This should help jog their memory to complete the rest. Then, heap on the praise: “You did a great job on that one! Try the next one now.”

4. Change the Scenery

Sometimes something as simple as changing up their workspace can boost a child’s motivation and, in turn, their confidence. If your child has been working alone at a desk or designated study nook, perhaps they’d be more comfortable doing their homework in a public area, like the kitchen table while you’re preparing dinner. 

Conversely, if they’ve been working in a high-traffic part of the house, they might need a more private space in which to focus. 

5. Keep the Positive Feedback Coming

Younger kids need instant feedback, so it’s okay for parents of young grade-schoolers to correct mistakes, says Grace, the 2nd grade teacher. Follow this up with specific praise about what your child has done well.

6. Leave the Room

“Kids who drag things out are often doing so for your attention — they’re enjoying the interaction on some level,” explains Grace. “Avoid joining in.”

If you must stay in the room, have your child work in a spot that’s farther away from whatever you’re doing.

7. Beat the Clock

Sometimes procrastinators just need a jump-start. If that’s true for your child, try this: 

Set a timer for five minutes and have your child work as quickly and steadily as they can until the timer goes off. At that point, they can choose to take a short break or keep going — many kids continue.

“Racing against a timer gives kids an external sense of urgency if they don’t have an internal one,” says Ann Dolin, a former educator. 

However, a timed work session is not an excuse for sloppy work. Make sure your child reviews theirs before submitting it.

8. Plan, Plan, Plan

To get the most out of your days, include every appointment — from sports practice to meals to reading time — on a big calendar or schedule log and stick it in a central place where every member of the household can see it. 

If you know that certain nights present a conflict with your child’s homework schedule, you can ask for the week’s assignments upfront and work with your child to decide the best times to complete them, says Cathy Vatterott, a professor of education at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. 

“Teachers will often work with you on this, but most parents are afraid to ask,” she says.

9. Let ’Em Vent 

If your child is resisting doing their homework — or worse, is tearing up over it in frustration — soothe any pent-up worries by letting them complain. Listen, empathize (“Wow, that is a lot of work”), and state their feelings back to them (“You sound upset”). 

Once your child feels understood, they’ll be more likely to accept your suggestions, says Dolin — and better able to focus on what needs to be done.

You can also help by talking to your child about what they remember from class and steering them to the textbook. If they’re still lost, have them write a note to the teacher explaining that they don’t understand.

Get ready for your child to go back to school with our guide — it's full of recommended books, tips to help if your child is struggling with homework , and more resources for starting the year off right . 

Shop workbooks and learning kits to support good homework habits. You can find all books and activities at The Scholastic Store .

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How to Help Your Child Study

Regardless of a child’s age or challenges, parents can encourage sound homework routines for a successful start to the school year.

By Brian Platzer and Abby Freireich

Every cartful of new school supplies is loaded with promise: binders organized by subject, crisp homework folders and pristine notebooks. But for many parents it can feel like it’s just a short hop from those freshly sharpened pencils to a child in full meltdown over a barely started English essay.

You don’t have to let go of the optimism. As parents, teachers and tutors, we have some concrete advice for staving off the tears — for both parents and children.

Regardless of a child’s age or challenges, parents can encourage sound homework routines for a successful start to the school year. First, students should consider how to create organized work spaces, backpacks and lockers cleared of clutter and systematized for easy retrieval of important assignments. Second, nightly to-do checklists are a must to help prioritize and plan ahead.

But many students still struggle when it comes to homework. Their stress tends to be exacerbated by three primary challenges: procrastinating , feeling overwhelmed and struggling to retain information . Ideally, parents can help elementary school children develop effective homework habits so they will not need as much guidance as they get older. Parents who are not home during their kids’ prime homework hours can try out some of these ideas on the weekends and pass along the best practices to their caregivers.

children's school homework

For Procrastination

Reduce potential distractions..

Many students finish reading a sentence, and then refresh their Instagram feed. Ideally, their phones should be nowhere near them during homework time. Or they should disable or mute apps and texting functions on the phone and computer while they work. We know this will mean a grumpy adolescent. But it’s a battle worth fighting. Establish a family tech-space where phones and laptops go when not in use. And model these boundaries by leaving your devices there, too!

Remember that consistency is key.

Kids ultimately thrive in the comfort and reliability of a structured approach to homework, so each afternoon they should follow the same steps in roughly the same order.

For Students Overwhelmed by Workload

Plan ahead..

It might be helpful for you to model the planning process, so your kids can see how you schedule a series of tasks. Try to make a point of letting them in on the process when you’re running errands, preparing for a trip or completing a project for work. Then take advantage of some set time (Sunday tends to work best) to plan the coming week.

Students should break down large assignments into more manageable chunks and then backplan from the due date, recording on a calendar what they’ll need to do when in order to complete each major task and its components.

In the early grades, this could mean reading a book by Tuesday in order to write a book report on Wednesday. By middle school, it could translate to finishing the research for a science project with enough time to make a compelling poster to display at the science fair. The more practice students get with planning, the sooner they’ll become self-sufficient.

Use time estimates.

Students should estimate how long each assignment will take and develop a schedule accordingly. Even if the estimate is wrong, the process of thinking through timing will allow them to internalize how best to proceed when juggling multiple tasks. It will give them a better gauge of how long future assignments will take and make the evening ahead less intimidating.

Begin with the most difficult task.

Most kids’ instinct will be to complete the fun or easy to-dos first. But they should start with the hardest work. Otherwise it will be later when, energy depleted, they begin trying to outline their term paper. Encouraging them to do the most challenging work first will allow them to devote attention and energy to the demanding assignments — then they can coast through the easy tasks.

For Students Who Struggle to Retain Information

Use a cumulative approach..

Memorize information in stages that build upon one another. When students are confronted with vast swaths of material, it can be overwhelming and difficult to recall. Suggest that they break it up into a series of discrete parts based on the number of topics and the number of days they have to study for the test. For example, students might divide a history test study sheet into sections 1 to 3. The first day should be for studying section 1. The second day, section 2. The third day, reviewing sections 1 and 2, before moving to section 3 the following day. This way, by the time students get to section 3, they haven’t forgotten what they learned in the first section. This cumulative approach reinforces retention of content through review and repetition.

S ummarize with concise lists, identify keywords and use mnemonics.

A big block of text on a study sheet can be difficult for students to absorb and memorize. Instead, they should break the sentence or paragraph up into a series of points, highlighting the keywords and then creating their own mnemonic device to remember it. Sometimes the silliest mnemonics stick the best, and remembering the first letters of words will help trigger ideas that they might otherwise forget. (Remember the DR & MRS VANDERTRAMP verbs from French class, or Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge when learning musical notes?)

Employ visual aids and narratives.

Some students can best synthesize information by creating charts or other graphic organizers. Rather than feeling overwhelmed by writing several paragraphs with important information about how a cell works, for example, students might present the same data in streamlined form with a chart. Charts distill and organize numerous sources (parts of a cell) according to the same set of criteria (form, function, location), creating a categorized snapshot that’s easier to memorize.

Other students prefer narratives that link ideas to their context. Instead of trying to memorize various inventors, students could recall how they built on one another’s accomplishments. Most students thrive when both these approaches are used simultaneously.

Make study materials.

We know it’s old-fashioned, but writing out information helps commit content to memory far better than typing it. If writing out the material longhand is too onerous, kids should still create their own study sheet digitally, rather than borrowing one from a friend. The work of creating the study sheet is a crucial step in internalizing its content. Active is always better than passive studying. Most students benefit from being orally quizzed on the material so they can determine both the information they know inside-out, and what they still need to review. Online resources like Quizlet can work well to prepare for straightforward vocabulary quizzes, but is less helpful when it comes to tests covering more complex information. Most importantly, students should generate their own study material to make the most of using Quizlet, rather than relying on pre-existing content that others have posted.

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How Much Studying Is Enough?

Some kids believe they’ll never be prepared, even after hours of studying. Others barely crack a book open and declare they’re done.

Use practice tests.

The best way to know that study time is over is when students are able to perform the task that will be asked of them on the in-class test, quiz or essay. Initially, children can review the material orally. They should write down any material they missed to help commit it to memory. Then, they can take a sample test from a textbook, or create a mock test with class notes, homework and study guides. When students demonstrate a verbal and written command of the information, studying should be complete.

Talk through these study habits now, so that on the first day of school, your child will not only have the requisite sharpened pencils, but also a plan of action.

Abby Freireich and Brian Platzer are the founders of Teachers Who Tutor | NYC and the authors of a book about homework to be published next summer.

Should Kids Get Homework?

Homework gives elementary students a way to practice concepts, but too much can be harmful, experts say.

Mother helping son with homework at home

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Effective homework reinforces math, reading, writing or spelling skills, but in a way that's meaningful.

How much homework students should get has long been a source of debate among parents and educators. In recent years, some districts have even implemented no-homework policies, as students juggle sports, music and other activities after school.

Parents of elementary school students, in particular, have argued that after-school hours should be spent with family or playing outside rather than completing assignments. And there is little research to show that homework improves academic achievement for elementary students.

But some experts say there's value in homework, even for younger students. When done well, it can help students practice core concepts and develop study habits and time management skills. The key to effective homework, they say, is keeping assignments related to classroom learning, and tailoring the amount by age: Many experts suggest no homework for kindergartners, and little to none in first and second grade.

Value of Homework

Homework provides a chance to solidify what is being taught in the classroom that day, week or unit. Practice matters, says Janine Bempechat, clinical professor at Boston University 's Wheelock College of Education & Human Development.

"There really is no other domain of human ability where anybody would say you don't need to practice," she adds. "We have children practicing piano and we have children going to sports practice several days a week after school. You name the domain of ability and practice is in there."

Homework is also the place where schools and families most frequently intersect.

"The children are bringing things from the school into the home," says Paula S. Fass, professor emerita of history at the University of California—Berkeley and the author of "The End of American Childhood." "Before the pandemic, (homework) was the only real sense that parents had to what was going on in schools."

Harris Cooper, professor emeritus of psychology and neuroscience at Duke University and author of "The Battle Over Homework," examined more than 60 research studies on homework between 1987 and 2003 and found that — when designed properly — homework can lead to greater student success. Too much, however, is harmful. And homework has a greater positive effect on students in secondary school (grades 7-12) than those in elementary.

"Every child should be doing homework, but the amount and type that they're doing should be appropriate for their developmental level," he says. "For teachers, it's a balancing act. Doing away with homework completely is not in the best interest of children and families. But overburdening families with homework is also not in the child's or a family's best interest."

Negative Homework Assignments

Not all homework for elementary students involves completing a worksheet. Assignments can be fun, says Cooper, like having students visit educational locations, keep statistics on their favorite sports teams, read for pleasure or even help their parents grocery shop. The point is to show students that activities done outside of school can relate to subjects learned in the classroom.

But assignments that are just busy work, that force students to learn new concepts at home, or that are overly time-consuming can be counterproductive, experts say.

Homework that's just busy work.

Effective homework reinforces math, reading, writing or spelling skills, but in a way that's meaningful, experts say. Assignments that look more like busy work – projects or worksheets that don't require teacher feedback and aren't related to topics learned in the classroom – can be frustrating for students and create burdens for families.

"The mental health piece has definitely played a role here over the last couple of years during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the last thing we want to do is frustrate students with busy work or homework that makes no sense," says Dave Steckler, principal of Red Trail Elementary School in Mandan, North Dakota.

Homework on material that kids haven't learned yet.

With the pressure to cover all topics on standardized tests and limited time during the school day, some teachers assign homework that has not yet been taught in the classroom.

Not only does this create stress, but it also causes equity challenges. Some parents speak languages other than English or work several jobs, and they aren't able to help teach their children new concepts.

" It just becomes agony for both parents and the kids to get through this worksheet, and the goal becomes getting to the bottom of (the) worksheet with answers filled in without any understanding of what any of it matters for," says professor Susan R. Goldman, co-director of the Learning Sciences Research Institute at the University of Illinois—Chicago .

Homework that's overly time-consuming.

The standard homework guideline recommended by the National Parent Teacher Association and the National Education Association is the "10-minute rule" – 10 minutes of nightly homework per grade level. A fourth grader, for instance, would receive a total of 40 minutes of homework per night.

But this does not always happen, especially since not every student learns the same. A 2015 study published in the American Journal of Family Therapy found that primary school children actually received three times the recommended amount of homework — and that family stress increased along with the homework load.

Young children can only remain attentive for short periods, so large amounts of homework, especially lengthy projects, can negatively affect students' views on school. Some individual long-term projects – like having to build a replica city, for example – typically become an assignment for parents rather than students, Fass says.

"It's one thing to assign a project like that in which several kids are working on it together," she adds. "In (that) case, the kids do normally work on it. It's another to send it home to the families, where it becomes a burden and doesn't really accomplish very much."

Private vs. Public Schools

Do private schools assign more homework than public schools? There's little research on the issue, but experts say private school parents may be more accepting of homework, seeing it as a sign of academic rigor.

Of course, not all private schools are the same – some focus on college preparation and traditional academics, while others stress alternative approaches to education.

"I think in the academically oriented private schools, there's more support for homework from parents," says Gerald K. LeTendre, chair of educational administration at Pennsylvania State University—University Park . "I don't know if there's any research to show there's more homework, but it's less of a contentious issue."

How to Address Homework Overload

First, assess if the workload takes as long as it appears. Sometimes children may start working on a homework assignment, wander away and come back later, Cooper says.

"Parents don't see it, but they know that their child has started doing their homework four hours ago and still not done it," he adds. "They don't see that there are those four hours where their child was doing lots of other things. So the homework assignment itself actually is not four hours long. It's the way the child is approaching it."

But if homework is becoming stressful or workload is excessive, experts suggest parents first approach the teacher, followed by a school administrator.

"Many times, we can solve a lot of issues by having conversations," Steckler says, including by "sitting down, talking about the amount of homework, and what's appropriate and not appropriate."

Study Tips for High School Students

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How to make school life a little less difficult for kids

Actually useful ways to help children with homework, bullying, and mental health.

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In early 2020, around the onset of Covid-19 lockdowns, Jessica Mungekar noticed her seventh grade honor student, Layla, retreat. “I knew that she felt really uncomfortable and she wanted to fall into the background,” Mungekar says. “She didn’t want to be noticed and I didn’t quite understand it.”

Meanwhile, Layla was keeping the source of her pain secret from her mother: She was being bullied and was struggling with her identity as a biracial teen in a predominantly white town. Layla feared if she told her mom about the extent of the bullying, Jessica would have called the school, making the problem even worse.

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Things came to a head the summer before Layla’s first year of high school when she shared with her mom details of a traumatic event. Layla urged her mother not to make decisions on her behalf in the aftermath. Instead, Jessica went into what she calls “mama bear mode” and made demands of her daughter: Cut off contact with these friends, join these extracurricular activities, you are only allowed out of the house during these hours. Layla felt like her autonomy was being taken away.

Over the course of a few months, mother and daughter worked to repair their relationship and communication. Now, Jessica says she is sure to listen to Layla instead of immediately offering advice, validates her daughter’s feelings, and gives her freedom to express herself. For her part, Layla confides in her mother all the time, even about her dating life. Her friends often seek out Jessica for counsel, too. “She’s become a safe place where people go to get advice,” Layla, now 16, says. “She’s joyous and doesn’t pass judgment.”

Students are faced with a daily barrage of potential stressors: a demanding course load, tricky social dynamics, managing both their time and emotions. In a four-year study designed to estimate the prevalence of mental disorders in kindergarteners through 12th graders, findings showed one in six students exhibited enough symptoms to meet the criteria for one or more childhood mental disorders, such as anxiety disorders and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. According to a 2019 Pew Research Center report, 61 percent of teens said they felt a lot of pressure to get good grades. About 22 percent of 12- to 18-year-old students reported being bullied during the school year in 2019, per a National Center for Education Statistics survey . None of these statistics takes into account the toll of the pandemic, which set students back academically and had negative effects on their mental health .

Once kids leave the house, parents and other adults in their lives have little influence on their students’ school days. Unable to witness or guide children through the difficulties in and out of the classroom, parents often get piecemeal or incomplete views of how their kids spent the last hours, especially if the child is young and can’t adequately verbalize their struggles or frustrations. Signs that a student may be experiencing hardship at school include increased irritability, difficulty sleeping or lack of sleep, and changes in appetite, says Jessica Kendorski , the chair of the school psychology department and professor at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. They may also say they feel sick in order to stay home, when in reality they may be stressed or anxious about school, Kendorski says.

Another indicator of a struggling child includes extreme people-pleasing, says Meredith Draughn , the school counselor at B. Everett Jordan Elementary School in Graham, NC, and the 2023 American School Counselor Association Counselor of the Year. High school students may also exhibit a “freeze” response, Draughn says. “It’s like well, that kid just doesn’t care, right? That kid’s super apathetic,” she says. “What we find when we dig into it more is they’re so overwhelmed by everything that’s happening that they just choose to do nothing because they don’t know how to address it.”

What, then, is the right way to support the students in your life? The tactics will vary based on the age of your child and the issues they’re facing. Regardless of your approach, experts say to always keep your kids in the loop of any decisions you’re making about their emotional and academic success.

Encourage growth mindset tactics for academic achievement

From homework to challenging classes, students experience a number of academic hurdles. Sometimes, they may fail a test or drop the ball on a project. While some students may criticize themselves (“I’m not smart enough”) or claim the material was too difficult, parents should promote a growth mindset : the ability to learn from setbacks, implement new processes, and improve. “You want to praise the effort and the strategies that they used,” Kendorski says. “If they fail something, you want to talk through ‘Why did you fail this? Let’s talk about what you can do to be successful next time.’”

A fixed mindset is one where people believe their skills are set in stone and they have no possibility of improving. When students in his classroom share fixed mindset sentiments like “I can’t do this,” elementary school teacher Josh Monroe is quick to amend the statement: “You can’t do this yet .” The power of yet helps students “understand that you don’t have to know it all right now — and it’s important that you don’t, that’s how you grow,” he says.

While it’s crucial to encourage a growth mindset with students who use negative self-talk, like “I’ll never learn this” or “I’m not good enough,” a fixed mindset can also backfire if you constantly tell a student “You’re so smart,” Kendorski says. “When things start to get really difficult, you might find kids that don’t want to take chances,” she says, “because they think that if I fail, I’m going to lose that ‘I’m so smart’ title.” Instead, she says, focus on accomplishments based on effort and strategies: “I’m really proud of you for organizing a study group with your friends.”

To help ensure your kids get their homework done and prepare for tests, Kendorski encourages a routine: dedicating a time and a place for schoolwork. If your student retains information more effectively if they study for a little bit each day instead of cramming, offer that as an option.

When the kid in your life asks for help with homework and you’re a little rusty on, say, algebra, don’t feel ashamed to admit you don’t know how to solve the problem, Draughn says. Monroe recommends the online educational tool Khan Academy , which features videos that guide both parents and students through all levels of educational concepts and lessons. For additional academic resources, reach out to your student’s teacher who will know about after-school tutoring sessions or extra guidance, Draughn says. “Going to teachers early and often, when help is needed, is the most crucial part of it,” she says, “because there are those programs, but they do fill up pretty quickly.”

Empower students to navigate difficult social situations with confidence

School can be a social minefield, with kids learning how to independently interact with peers and regulate their emotions. If your child shares that they’re being picked on or ostracized in school, Draughn suggests that you first validate their experience and never downplay their emotions. Ask them what level of support they want: Do they think it would be helpful to talk to a school counselor or a teacher? Or do they prefer you to reach out to the teacher directly? In Layla Mungekar’s experience, she would have opted for her mother to not interfere with her social life. “Letting them lead the way on that is important,” Draughn says. “They may say, I feel like I have the tools to handle this — and that’s great. Then you check in. But doing nothing and just not mentioning it again is not going to help anything.”

You might also start counseling your kid on self-advocacy and assertiveness at home, too, Draughn says, helping them identify moments where they should speak out against bad behavior and pointing out trustworthy adults to whom they can report issues, regardless of whether they are on the receiving end or have witnessed another student being bullied. “If someone is making you feel socially or physically unsafe, that’s the time to speak up,” says Tracee Perryman , the author of Elevating Futures: A Model For Empowering Black Elementary Student Success . Again, only reach out to the school yourself after talking it over with your kid.

However, your child may simply be shy and reserved, not the victim of bullying. Perryman says to help build confidence with the kids in your life by reminding them that what they have to say is important and they have valuable interests and insights worth sharing with others.

When it comes to social media, Jessica Mungekar discovered teens will “do what they’re going to do, whether you want them to or not,” she says. It’s better to listen if your child is involved with social media-related conflict, remind them they are not in trouble, and support them as you work to create a plan together. “I think it’s important in this day and age for kids to have social media because otherwise they get [alienated] by their peers,” Layla Mungekar says. “But it’s a lot safer when parents have those conversations, like yeah, this is going to happen and when it does happen, you should feel safe to come to me and not be blamed for that.”

Experts emphasize the transitory nature of school. While it’s crucial for students to apply themselves academically and make strides socially, remind them that one speed bump, fight with a friend, blunder, or bad grade will not drastically alter the trajectory of their lives. “It’s better that I make those mistakes now,” Layla says, “while I have someone there to help me.”

Promote balance to minimize stress

Just like adults, kids can get stressed due to the demands of school and extracurriculars, as well as conflicts with friends and family. If kids are sleeping very late on weekends or too tired to do activities they typically enjoy, like spending time with friends, they might need more balance in their schedules, Perryman says.

Ask your kid directly: “Are you playing T-ball three nights a week because you like it or you feel like you have to?” or “You had three extracurriculars last semester and it was really overwhelming for you. Do you want to pick two for this coming semester?” Draughn suggests. Remind your kid that just because they step away from a hobby now doesn’t mean they can’t come back to it in the future. Make sure students have one weeknight and one weekend day solely devoted to downtime, too, Draughn says. However, don’t discount the fact that sports and other activities can be rejuvenating for kids, even if they’re not resting.

Parents and supportive adults are quick to problem-solve for the kids in their lives, but Kendorski stresses the importance of asking, “Do you want me to listen? Or do you want me to help?” Your child might just want to vent about a tough baseball practice. When Layla wants validation and a hug from her mom, she asks her “to be a waterfall.” When she’s feeling less emotionally charged, then Layla and her mom can problem-solve.

For high-achieving students who may be stressed about grades and college applications, Kendorski suggests asking your kids what story they’re telling themselves about success. For example, they might worry that a bad test grade means they’ll never get into their dream college. Help them map more realistic outcomes by thinking about the absolute worst-case scenario and alternative paths. For example, the worst that could happen if they fail a single test is maybe they get a C for the quarter. But reinforce how if they study and complete all their homework, the likelihood of failing is minimized.

Remember not to make your stress their stress. Children are intuitive and can pick up on how the adults in their lives are feeling, Kendorski says. Instead of turning away from uncomfortable emotions, encourage open communication. If you’re disappointed in a mediocre grade, try saying, “I’m feeling a little bummed about the C on that test, but that’s my issue. I know you work hard and with some more practice, I know you’ll do better next time.”

Parents should always validate their child’s struggles and encourage caring for their mental health. Whether they’re seeking support from a trusted teacher or you think they’d benefit from speaking with a therapist — ask them how they’d feel about chatting with a professional before scheduling an appointment — remind them that “mental health is health,” Draughn says. That matters more than any test score.

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Poland’s children rejoice as homework is banned. The rest of the world watches on for results

Some studies have shown little benefit to homework for young learners, article bookmarked.

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Ola Kozak is celebrating. The 11-year-old, who loves music and drawing, expects to have more free time for her hobbies after Poland ’s government ordered strict limits on the amount of homework in the lower grades.

“I am happy,” said the fifth grader, who lives in a Warsaw suburb with her parents and younger siblings. The lilac-colored walls in her bedroom are covered in her art, and on her desk she keeps a framed picture she drew of Kurt Cobain.

“Most people in my class in the morning would copy the work off someone who had done the homework or would copy it from the internet. So it didn’t make sense,” she said.

The government of Prime Minister Donald Tusk enacted the ban against required homework this month amid a broad discussion about the need to modernise Poland's education system, which critics say puts too much emphasis on rote learning and homework, and not enough on critical thinking and creativity.

Under the decree, teachers are no longer to give required homework to kids in the first to third grades. In grades four to eight, homework is now optional and doesn't count towards a grade.

Not everyone likes the change – and even Ola’s parents are divided.

“If there is something that will make students enjoy school more, then it will probably be good both for the students and for the school,” said her father, Pawel Kozak.

His wife, Magda Kozak, was skeptical. “I am not pleased, because (homework) is a way to consolidate what was learned,” she said. “It helps stay on top of what the child has really learned and what’s going on at school.”

(Ola's brother Julian, a third grader, says he sees both sides.)

Debates over the proper amount of homework are common around the globe. While some studies have shown little benefit to homework for young learners, other experts say it can help them learn how to develop study habits and academic concepts.

The rest of the world will be watching Poland’s results closely.

Poland's educational system has undergone a number of controversial overhauls. Almost every new government has tried to make changes — something many teachers and parents say has left them confused and discouraged. For example, after communism was thrown off, middle schools were introduced. Then under the last government, the previous system was brought back. More controversy came in recent years when ultra-conservative views were pushed in new textbooks.

For years, teachers have been fleeing the system due to low wages and political pressure. The current government is trying to increase teacher salaries and has promised other changes that teachers approve of.

But Sławomir Broniarz, the head of the Polish Teachers' Union, said that while he recognized the need to ease burdens on students, the new homework rules are another case of change imposed from above without adequate consultation with educators.

“In general, the teachers think that this happened too quickly, too hastily,” he said.

He argued that removing homework could widen the educational gaps between kids who have strong support at home and those from poorer families with less support and lower expectations. Instead, he urged wider changes to the entire curriculum.

The homework rules gained impetus in the runup to parliamentary elections last year, when a 14-year-old boy, Maciek Matuszewski, stood up at a campaign rally and told Tusk before a national audience that children “had no time to rest.” The boy said their rights were being violated with so much homework on weekends and so many tests on Mondays.

Tusk has since featured Matuszewski in social media videos and made him the face of the sudden change.

Education Minister Barbara Nowacka said she was prompted by research on children’s mental health. Of the various stresses children face, she said, "the one that could be removed fastest was the burden of homework.”

Pasi Sahlberg, a prominent Finnish educator and author, said the value of homework depends on what it is and how it is linked to overall learning. The need for homework can be “very individual and contextual.”

“We need to trust our teachers to decide what is good for each child,” Sahlberg said.

In South Korea, homework limits were set for elementary schools in 2017 amid concerns that kids were under too much pressure. However, teenagers in the education-obsessed country often cram long into the night and get tutoring to meet the requirements of demanding school and university admission tests.

In the US, teachers and parents decide for themselves how much homework to assign. Some elementary schools have done away with homework entirely to give children more time to play, participate in activities and spend time with families.

A guideline circulated by teachers unions in the US recommends about 10 minutes of homework per grade. So, 10 minutes in first grade, 20 minutes in second grade and so on.

The COVID-19 pandemic and a crisis around youth mental health have complicated debates around homework. In the US, extended school closures in some places were accompanied by steep losses in learning, which were often addressed with tutoring and other interventions paid for with federal pandemic relief money. At the same time, increased attention to student wellbeing led some teachers to consider alternate approaches including reduced or optional homework.

It's important for children to learn that mastering something "usually requires practice, a lot of practice,” said Sahlberg, in Finland. If reducing homework leads kids and parents to think school expectations for excellence will be lowered, “things will go wrong.”

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The Moscow Free Library and Reading Room opened in March of 1901 in one room of the Brown Building in downtown Moscow. The library was open two afternoons and two evenings a week and was operated by the Pleiades Club and the Moscow Historical Club. In 1903 members of the two clubs formed a committee to secure funding for a library building from the Andrew Carnegie Library Endowment. The Endowment granted the group $10,000. In 1904 Moscow residents approved a special tax to raise money for the building’s operation. A lot was purchased on the corner of Second and Jefferson Streets and Boise architect Watson Vernon was hired to design the library in the Mission Revival style, unique for northern Idaho. The building was completed in 1906 for just under $9,500, making it one of the last Carnegie libraries funded. The first major building improvement was made in 1931 with an addition that doubled the available space. In 1938 the front steps were rebuilt, replacing the curved stairs which had been a feature of the original architecture. In 1964 the basement was remodeled into a children’s library. Construction started in August 1982 to remodel and add to the original Carnegie building. In April 1983 the building was opened to the public, with the Carol Ryrie Brink Reading Room in the historic Carnegie building designated a special place for the children of the community. This addition more than doubled the space again. The Moscow branch serves as headquarters of the Latah County Library District, housing the administrative, adult services, youth services, access services and technical services departments. The Moscow Carnegie Library was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979. More information about the library may be found on the Society of Architectural Historians’ “Archipedia” website.

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The best international schools in Moscow

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International british schools in Moscow

Embark on an educational journey in Moscow with a selection of elite schools catering to diverse needs. From the British-focused MCS, offering personalized bilingual education, to Riverside School’s immersive English environment in the picturesque Novogorsk, each institution stands out. Brookes School Moscow, part of a global network, promises quality education in a central location. Russian International School, combining Russian and British curricula, ensures holistic development. Whether it’s “Classika” emphasizing language proficiency or the innovative “Tomorrow’s School” with a unique biblical approach, Moscow’s educational landscape is rich and varied, ready to shape students for success on the global stage. Explore the options and discover the perfect fit for your child’s academic journey.

Let’s explore the top 11 schools in Moscow that meet the best criteria.

  • 1.1      Advantages of the school:
  • 2.1    Features:
  • 2.2    Licenses and Certificates:
  • 3.1    Key Features:
  • 4.1    Advantages:
  • 4.2    Location:
  • 5.1    Advantages:
  • 6.1    Special Features:
  • 6.2    Licenses and Certificates:
  • 7.1    Key Features:
  • 8.1    Features:
  • 8.2    Licenses and Certificates:
  • 9.1    Special Features:
  • 9.2    Licenses and Certificates:
  • 10.1     Features:
  • 10.2     Licenses and Certificates:
  • 11.1     Features:
  • 11.2     Licenses and Certificates:

     Advantages of the school:

– Students begin learning English from an early age, not only as a subject but as the primary means of instruction and communication.

– The program offers a comprehensive international-level education starting from kindergarten.

– Qualified teachers from English-speaking countries are involved in the teaching process.

– Small class sizes (up to 14 students) allow for individualized learning.

– The school provides additional activities such as drawing, dance, ballet, football, chess, jiu-jitsu, fencing, robotics, diving, vocal training, graphic design, and animation.

– Infrastructure: Modern campuses equipped for comfortable and engaging learning. Campuses are located in Skolkovo (western Moscow near the Skolkovo innovation center), Festivalnaya (northern Moscow near Rechnoy Vokzal metro station), and a campus in St. Petersburg near the Gulf of Finland.

British International School

BIS is one of the oldest international schools in Moscow, providing high-class education and a comprehensive approach for children aged 3 to 18. Over 2000 students have graduated from the school, gaining admission to leading universities in Russia and worldwide.

The school operates two departments:

– International Department: Education follows the best traditions of British schools based on the National Curriculum of England and the pre-university IB Diploma program.

– Russian Department: Education aligns with Federal State Educational Standards. English is intensively studied, and students can choose a second foreign language (French, Spanish, German, or Chinese).

BIS holds an “Excellent” rating in every category according to the British Schools Overseas inspection.


– International accreditations (ECIS, CIS, COBIS).

– Six schools in different areas of Moscow.

– Class sizes up to 15 students.

– Large team of qualified teachers.

– Over 25 school clubs including 3D modeling, programming, chess, ballet, mental arithmetic, martial arts, fashion design, etc.

– Comprehensive approach including school bus services, extended day programs, and psychological and speech therapy services.

   Licenses and Certificates:

– Moscow Department of Education and Science License.

– Edexcel Approved Centre Accreditation.

– Cambridge International Examinations Accreditation.

– IBO Accreditation.

– ECIS Membership Accreditation and Certificate.

– CIS Membership Accreditation and Certificate.

British School MCS

British School MCS focuses on the individual development of each student, offering a diverse range of courses and a creative atmosphere – fulfilling expectations of what parents seek from British schools. MCS provides bilingual education, skillfully combining British educational programs and Russian Federal State Educational Standards (FGOS). Graduates receive two diplomas.

   Key Features:

– Modern and high-quality education comparable to private English schools.

– Emphasis on developing critical thinking, curiosity, and increasing academic motivation through solving non-standard tasks.

– Full-day school with teaching based on individual educational routes, along with pedagogical and psychological support for each student.

– Balanced workload, collaboration of psychologists, educators, healthcare professionals, and a tailored schedule contribute to effective learning of both programs without mental exhaustion.

– Certificates such as A-levels, GCSE, and/or Cambridge CAE are awarded, granting the right to university admission in any English-speaking country.

Riverside School

Riverside School is a bilingual primary school located in the Moscow suburbs, in Novogorsk. It simultaneously follows British national and Russian educational programs. The British program includes Key Stage 1 (ages 5–7, grades 1–2) and Key Stage 2 (ages 7–12, grades 3–6). Alongside the British program, children undergo Russian primary education based on FGOS.


– Full immersion in an English-language environment.

– Experienced English-speaking educators in the English department.

– Wide range of extracurricular activities: sports (swimming, tennis, football, wrestling, skiing, golf), creative workshops (drawing, dance, music, theater), intellectual development clubs (chess, robotics).

– Professional security and daily bus transportation.

– Extended school hours until 20:00 with various activities and amenities for children.


Riverside School is situated in a nature conservation zone in the Skhodnya River valley, surrounded by over 1 hectare of forest.

Brookes School Moscow

Brookes School Moscow is an international coeducational private school founded in 2018. All subjects are taught in English, and it is part of the Brookes Education Group with schools worldwide. The institution includes a preschool section for children aged 2 and a school for children aged 6 to 7.

– Highly qualified teachers, many with advanced degrees.

– Exchange programs with schools in the USA, Canada, UK, South Korea, India.

– Healthy three-meal daily catering.

– Convenient location in one of Moscow’s best districts.

– School representatives assist with organizing accommodation in Moscow.

Russian International School (RIS)

RIS is an elite educational center offering dual programs: Russian and British national. The school features experienced educators from Russia and the UK, adhering to high standards in both Russian and British education.

   Special Features:

– Class sizes limited to 10 students.

– Additional sections and workshops: ballet, karate, artistic gymnastics, football, Chinese martial arts, theatrical studio, chess, and English clubs.

– Collaboration with British educational institutions, aiding with admissions and document processing.

– Accreditation from the British Examination Commission (Edexcel Approved Centre) to prepare students for A-levels and GCSE.

– Accreditation from Cambridge International Examinations, along with an educational license from the Russian Ministry of Education and state accreditation.

Academic Gymnasium

Academic Gymnasium offers preschool, primary, basic general, and secondary education according to the Russian educational program. It is also an ESOL center for conducting Cambridge English tests. Graduates successfully pass these tests, facilitating admission to foreign universities.

– Extensive extracurricular activities, including excursions, clubs, conferences, roundtable discussions, Olympiads, research, sports sections, and competitions.

– Options for full-time, homeschooling, part-time (external), and their combinations.

– Educational program supplemented with individual subjects from Cambridge University.

– Learning a second foreign language.

– Accreditation and license for educational activities.

– Certified Cambridge ESOL center.

European Gymnasium

European Gymnasium is one of the few international private schools in Russia using the International Baccalaureate (IB) program from grades 1 to 11. Children also follow the state educational program. In the primary school, the state program integrates with the PYP IBO approaches. From an early age, students deeply study English and begin learning a second foreign language.

– Preparation for the IB and Russian exams on individual programs.

– In-depth study of two foreign languages.

– Students in middle and high school can choose the language of instruction: English or Russian.

– Preparation for KET, PET, and FCE exams.

– Authorization for all three IB programs: PYP, MYP, DP.

– State accreditation and license.

School of Tomorrow

“School of Tomorrow” is a bilingual school based on biblical principles, using the proprietary teaching methodology created by Dr. Donald Howard. The approach involves individualized learning, allowing students to progress at their own pace.


– Mandatory SAT and TOEFL testing for graduates.

– Authorized to conduct Stanford testing since 2004.

– Graduates easily pass the Russian Unified State Exam (EGE) and gain admission to top global universities.

– Annual “School of Tomorrow” Olympiads with participants from various countries.

    Licenses and Certificates:

– NCPSA and Accreditation International certificates.

– Fire safety declaration.

– CITA accreditation.

Marina International Private School

Marina International Private School operates based on the federal program with a focus on mastering several foreign languages. Children start learning English from the 1st grade, and from the 4th grade, they choose French, Spanish, or German. In higher grades, a third foreign language is added to the curriculum.

– Collaboration with leading universities in the country, British, Canadian, and American universities.

– Educational exchanges and trips during holidays.

– Participation and victories in Olympiads and project work competitions (including in India and California).

– Marina, together with the California Theater, stages musicals in English.

– License and accreditation for educational activities.

– CIS (Council of International Schools) membership.

– Conclusion C (unknown context).


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An Ohio school banned cellphones. Turns out students actually like it

children's school homework

When was the last time you saw a group of teenagers interact for hours without a cellphone?

At Cincinnati Country Day School in Indian Hill, it happens every day.

Like most schools, Country Day has had a no cellphone policy for years. But kids, teachers and administrators alike admit it was rarely enforced − until this school year, when homeroom teachers started collecting students' phones to be returned at the end of the school day.

Isabel Ramirez, a senior and student body vice president, said she got her first cellphone when she was 13. She constantly used it to chat with friends on social media during the school day, she said, and even made TikToks during her advisory class as a freshman.

Now that she goes eight hours every day away from her phone, Isabel said she's gotten to know her peers better and said she's more productive.

"I go home, pretty much, with no homework now compared to my first couple years of high school," Isabel said.

Schools across the state are considering stricter cellphone policies in response to growing research that shows the devices negatively impact students' mental health, academics and social behavior. Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted recently came out in favor of school cellphone bans, too.

Olivia Ims, an eighth-grader at Country Day, didn't get a cellphone herself until earlier this school year. But before then, she said, her classmates' phones got in the way of her building deeper connections with them There was still a no cellphone policy, but before teachers physically kept kids' phones out of sight, Olivia said, students would sneak off to the bathroom during class to check social media.

"In seventh grade, everyone was kind of in their own groups and they would always be talking about what video they saw on TikTok or on Snapchat or on Instagram," she said. "And I would always be clueless."

With the new cellphone policy this year, Olivia said her friends engage with each other more and talk about things everyone can relate to.

"Everything's just more positive now," she said.

What are other schools' cellphone policies?

The Enquirer reviewed dozens of cellphone policies at local school districts in southwest Ohio and Northern Kentucky. Some allow kids to use their cellphones during passing periods, before and after school and during lunch. Some require phones to be turned off and tucked away in backpacks or lockers all day. Several of the policies leave cellphone use up to individual teachers. Very few require kids to give up their phones all day like the new policy at Country Day.

More: Schools don't want kids on cellphones. Is banning them the solution?

Princeton High School's universal protocol requires students to drop off their phones at the start of each class period and then pick them up at the end of class. Teachers at Carlisle Jr./Sr. High School have that option, too. Phone caddies are set up in classrooms in case teachers choose to implement the rule.

Similarly, Mount Healthy Junior High School is piloting a program that requires students to place their phones in a lockbox at the start of each core class.

"The overall response has been positive and we are considering expanding the program districtwide," Superintendent Valerie Hawkins said.

Schools in other parts of Ohio, including Akron , use Yondr. The program provides pouches students use to store their phones during the school day, that unlock with a magnetic tap.

Cellphones, social media harmful to kids' mental health

While schools' policies vary, most educators and child advocates agree: overexposure to phones and social media aren't great for kids' mental health, concentration and overall well-being.

A 2023 advisory from the U.S. Surgeon General says up to 95% of kids ages 13-17 report they use social media. More than one-third say they use social media "almost constantly." The advisory lists potential mental health, academic and social detriments to kids in addition to compulsive behavior spurred by using social media. Excessive, uncontrollable use of social media platforms has been linked to sleep problems, attention problems and feeling excluded.

Matthew Wood, a freshman at Country Day, admits he has "a really unhealthy habit of constantly checking my phone for notifications." Before the new policy, when his phone was tucked away in his backpack, he said, he'd still check it throughout the day "just to see what popped up."

The new policy is "kind of freeing, in a sense," Matthew said, "to not feel like you need to check that every five seconds."

A consumer research study published in the University of Chicago Press Journals shows the mere presence of cellphones reduces cognitive capacity. A similar study from German researchers is included in the National Library of Medicine and found the presence of cellphones slows work performance and weakens attention spans.

Jeanette Hecker has been teaching world languages at Country Day for 25 years. Cellphones have hindered her students' long-term memories and note-taking skills, she said. Instead of memorizing or writing down instructions and notes during class, before the cellphone ban Hecker would watch students take photos of her board.

This year, she's noticed a shift back to good note-taking. Wood said he's taking better notes now, too.

What about emergencies?

Rob Zimmerman, head of Country Day School, said the research overwhelmingly supported his decision to ban cellphones. Even so, some parents were skeptical of the new policy at the start of the school year, he said. In many cases, parents were the ones contacting their kids during the school day.

"What if there's an emergency?" was a common point of pushback Zimmerman said he got from families.

But after speaking with local law enforcement, Zimmerman said it's actually best that kids don't have cellphones during emergencies. Accurate information and updates are crucial in those moments, and schools can better streamline communication and prevent misinformation from spreading if kids don't have their phones.

"It's been a hugely successful cultural shift for our community − more successful than I thought it might be," Zimmerman said. But he said he doesn't think a cellphone ban would work for every school in Cincinnati. "I also think it's not a one-size-fits-all approach."

Isabel said the transition was difficult at first, but now students are used to being phone-free during the school day. Sometimes, Wood said, he even forgets to get his phone at the end of the day.

"Now, everyone's so much more social," Olivia said. "It's so much more, like, an enjoyable day."

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Mahir Behlulovic is the only school-age child in the small village of Petrovici, and for the first five years of his schooling will be the only child in his classroom. To solve the problem the local authority decided to reopen the village school and hire a dedicated teacher for Mahir. (AP video by Almir Alic)

Meet the 7 year old boy who is the only child in his school

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Fact Sheet: How DHS is Combating Child Exploitation and Abuse

Every day, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) leads the fight against child exploitation and abuse. As part of the Department’s mission to combat crimes of exploitation and protect victims, we investigate these abhorrent crimes, spread awareness, collaborate with interagency and international partners, and expand our reach to ensure children are safe and protected.

DHS battles child exploitation and abuse using all available tools and resources department-wide, emphasizing its commitment in April 2023 by adding “Combat Crimes of Exploitation and Protect Victims” as its sixth core mission.

As part of the Department’s ongoing work on this mission, today DHS is announcing Know2Protect, the U.S. government’s first prevention and awareness campaign to combat online child sexual exploitation and abuse. In recognition of April’s Child Abuse Prevention Month, DHS is committed to raising awareness, preventing child exploitation and abuse, and bringing perpetrators to justice.

Between October 2022 and April 2024, DHS:

  • Expanded and unified the Department’s focus on combating cybercrimes by redesignating the HSI Cyber Crimes Center as the DHS Cyber Crimes Center to enhance coordination across all DHS agencies and offices to combat cyber-related crimes and further the Department’s mission to combat online child sexual exploitation and abuse (CSEA).
  • The Blue Campaign, now part of the DHS Center for Countering Human Trafficking, increased national partnerships from 43 in FY22 to 64 in FY23. The campaign hosted 194 national trainings on the indicators of human trafficking and how to report these crimes with over 19,000 participants from the federal government, non-governmental organizations, law enforcement, and the general public. In April 2024, Blue Campaign announced a partnership with rideshare company Lyft to train their drivers, who interact with millions of riders per year, on how to recognize and report human trafficking. Read more accomplishments in the DHS Center for Countering Human Trafficking’s FY 2023 Annual Report .
  • Identified and/or assisted 2,621 child victims of exploitation through the work of Homeland Security Investigations and made more than 6,100 arrests for crimes involving the sexual exploitation of children. Learn more in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) ’s FY2023 Annual Report .
  • Joined the Biden-Harris Administration and interagency partners to collaborate on actions to keep children and teens safe as part of the Kids Online Health and Safety Task Force and the White House Online Harassment and Abuse Task Force.
  • Tasked the Department’s external advisory bodies, including the Homeland Security Advisory Council , the Homeland Security Academic Partnership Council , and the Faith-Based Security Advisory Council , to each form a subcommittee to review DHS efforts to combat online child sexual exploitation and abuse. In the coming months, they will share their findings, which will help inform the Department’s future efforts to tackle these issues.
  • Began implementing a trauma-informed and victim and survivor-centered multidisciplinary workplan through the Joint Council on Combating Child Sexual Exploitation, established by President Biden and Australian Prime Minister Albanese. The Council, co-chaired by Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas, is focused on building the capacity of countries in the Indo-Pacific region to combat this crime; jointly developing policy recommendations to tackle the issue; conducting joint investigations and operations; sharing research and development efforts; preventing victimization through education and awareness campaigns; and safety-by-design.

To accomplish this work, DHS coordinates with law enforcement at home and abroad to enforce and uphold our laws, protects victims with a victim-centered approach that prioritizes respect and understanding, and works to stop this heinous crime through public education and outreach.

Enforcing Our Laws

DHS works with domestic and international partners to enforce and uphold the laws that protect children from abuse. The Department works collaboratively with the Department of Justice, the FBI, U.S Marshals, Interpol, Europol, and international law enforcement partners to arrest and prosecute perpetrators.

  • Increased U.S. government and law enforcement efforts to combat financial sextortion – a crime targeting children and teens by coercing them into sending explicit images online and extorting them for money. In the past two years HSI received 4500 sextortion tips from Cote d’Ivoire and 665 children have been identified and supported by HSI. Learn more about the crime of sextortion .
  • Helped deny more than 1,400 convicted, registered U.S. child sex offenders entry to foreign countries through travel notifications sent by the HSI Angel Watch Center. These efforts build international cooperation to ensure all countries are safe from predators.
  • Partnered with 61 regional Internet Crimes Against Children Task Forces to investigate people involved in the online victimization of children, including those who produce, receive, distribute and/or possess child sexual abuse material, or who engage in online sexual enticement of children.
  • Researched and developed modern tools and technologies that equip domestic and international law enforcement partners with advanced forensic capabilities to accomplish their mission to identify victims and apprehend child sexual abusers. For example, DHS’s Science and Technology Directorate developed the StreamView application to help law enforcement more efficiently address child exploitation cases by helping investigators aggregate, organize, and analyze investigative leads to identify the location of a crime, the victim, and bring the perpetrator to justice. Since May 2023, StreamView has led to the rescue of 68 victims, 47 arrests, eight life sentences, and dismantled eight trafficking networks having up to one million registered users.
  • The U.S. Secret Service provides forensic and technical assistance to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) and state/local law enforcement in cases involving missing and exploited children. 
  • U.S. Customs and Border Protection screens all unaccompanied children and other arriving minors for indicators of abuse or exploitation, human trafficking, and other crimes, and all suspected criminal cases are referred to HSI.

Protecting and Supporting Victims

DHS incorporates a victim-centered approach into all Department programs, policies, and operations that involve victims of crime. This effort seeks to minimize additional trauma, mitigate undue penalization, and provide needed stability and support to victims.

HSI’s “ Operation Renewed Hope ” mission in July 2023 resulted in the generation of 311 probable identifications of previously unknown victims, including 94 positive contacts and several confirmed victim rescues from active abuse due to their locations being discovered through materials uncovered during the investigations. The investigation also led to the identification of perpetrators of child sexual abuse material. HSI completed “ Operation Renewed Hope II ” in Spring 2024, which resulted in the generation of 414 probable identifications of previously unknown victims, and positive identification of 30 previously unknown child sexual abuse victims, which included 8 victims rescued from active abuse.

  • Once victims of child exploitation are identified and/or rescued, the HSI Victim Assistance Program (VAP) supports them and their non-offending caretaker(s) by using highly trained forensic interview specialists to conduct victim-centered and trauma-informed forensic interviews. In addition, VAP’s victim assistance specialists provide other resources to victims such as crisis intervention, referrals for short and long term medical and/or mental health care, and contact information for local social service programs for young victims, and agencies to assist in the healing process.
  • The Center for Countering Human Trafficking hosted its second annual virtual DHS Human Trafficking Seminar for DHS employees who are part of the Department’s mission to end human trafficking or are interested in this work. Over 900 employees from across the Department attended to learn more about DHS’s work and victim-centered approach to combating this crime.
  • HSI provides  short-term immigration protections to human trafficking victims , including victims of child sex trafficking. U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) provides victim-based or humanitarian-related immigration benefits to child victims of human trafficking, abuse, and neglect, including Special Immigration Juvenile (SIJ) classification, T visa, U visa, and VAWA immigrant classification.

Educating and Increasing Public Awareness

An integral part of this work is educating and expanding public awareness to help prevent this crime and hold perpetrators accountable. DHS does this important work every day.

  • Trained more than 2,000 law enforcement officials and child advocacy personnel throughout the country to enhance their counter-child exploitation tactics.
  • Educated over 186,000 kids, teens, parents, and teachers about internet safety and how to stay safe from sexual predators through the iGuardian program. DHS recently revamped Project iGuardian materials and using those materials, HSI has trained 419 special agents and completed presentations across 32 states and 8 countries. Presentations target kids aged 10 and up and their trusted guardians and focus on sharing information about the dangers of online environments, how to stay safe online, and how to report abuse and suspicious activity.
  • USSS Childhood Smart Program Ambassadors educated more than 112,000 children, parents, and teachers across 31 states and the District of Columbia about how to prevent online sexual exploitation and child abduction. The Childhood Smart Program provides age-appropriate presentations to children as young as five as well as to adults. Presentations focus on internet and personal safety as well as other topics such as social media etiquette and cyber bullying.
  • The HSI Human Rights Violations and War Crimes Center trained over 955 individuals across the interagency on female genital mutilation or cutting, a severe form of child abuse under federal law when done to individuals under the age of 18.
  • The DHS Blue Campaign Blue Lighting Initiative, part of the Center for Countering Human Trafficking, trained over 260,000 aviation personnel to identify potential traffickers and human trafficking victims and report their suspicions to law enforcement in FY 2023. The Initiative added 31 new partners this past year, raising its total partners to 136 aviation industry organizations, including its first two official international partners.
  • The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency administers SchoolSafety.gov, an interagency website that includes information, guidance and resources on a range of school safety topics. SchoolSafety.gov houses a child exploitation section and corresponding resources to help school communities identify, prevent and respond to child exploitation. Since its launch in January 2023, the SchoolSafety.gov child exploitation section has been viewed more than 17,380 times.

What You Can Do and Resources Available

  • Project iGuardians™: Combating Child Predators
  • Childhood Smart Program
  • Visit SchoolSafety.gov for resources to help educators, school leaders, parents, and school personnel identify, prevent, and respond to child exploitation. 
  • Learn more about sextortion : it is more common than you think. 
  • Learn more from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children .

How to report suspected online child sexual exploitation and abuse in the United States:

  • Contact your local, state, campus, or tribal law enforcement officials directly. Call 911 in an emergency.
  • If you suspect a child has been abducted or faces imminent danger, contact your local police and the NCMEC tip line at 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678) .
  • If you suspect a child might be a victim of online sexual exploitation, call the HSI Tip Line at 1-866-347-2423 and report it to NCMEC’s CyberTipline .
  • Law Enforcement
  • Child Exploitation

Public school enrollment falling nationwide, data shows

A classroom at the Utopia Independent School in Utopia, Texas.

More and more, parents are opting America’s children out of public school.

The share of children ages 5 to 17 enrolled in public schools fell by almost 4 percentage points from 2012 to 2022, an NBC News analysis of Census Bureau data found, even as the overall population grew.

NBC News’ analysis found:

  • 87.0% of children were enrolled in public school in 2022, compared to 90.7% in 2012.
  • In Kentucky, the share of school-age children in public schools decreased by almost 8 percentage points. 
  • In South Carolina, the share of children enrolled in public schools decreased by 7.4 percentage points. 
  • In Alaska, enrollment decreased by nearly 7 percentage points.

During the same period, the share of 5 to 17 year-olds enrolled in private schools increased by 2 percentage points, the Census Bureau data showed. Charter schools saw a similar increase , according to the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, a nonprofit group dedicated to advancing charter schools. 

Educators and researchers say the swing has been caused in part by laws that have targeted public schools while propping up alternatives. 

“[The rise in charter schools] is a thread of the larger campaign of privatization,” said Abbie Cohen, a Ph.D. candidate in UCLA’s School of Education and Information Studies. “Those two things are happening at the same time, and I don’t think it’s a coincidence.” 

Policies that make private, charter and homeschooling options more available to families — dubbed “school choice” by advocates — have expanded rapidly since 2022. Such policies grant families public funds for alternative schooling in the form of vouchers, tax-credit scholarships, refundable tax credits and more. In 2023, at least 146 school choice bills were introduced across 43 states, according to FutureEd, an education-focused think tank at Georgetown University. 

Nineteen school choice laws were enacted last year in 17 states, including South Carolina and Florida, which have seen some of the most dramatic declines of students enrolled in public schools. 

As part of the push for school choice, states are eliminating income limits and other eligibility requirements, allowing higher-income families to receive benefits. Eight states passed such laws or created such programs in 2023, FutureEd’s data shows, bringing the total number of states with these programs — commonly referred to as  “universal school choice” — to 10.

Though Kentucky has seen the most students leave public schools, it is one of 18 states without a school choice program, and the state doesn’t fund charters. Homeschooling and “microschooling,” where students are homeschooled together and may be supervised by someone other than their own parents, are increasingly popular alternatives. An EdChoice/Morning Consult poll reported that 15% of parents in Kentucky prefer homeschooling, compared to 9% of parents nationwide. 

Robert Enlow, the CEO of the nonprofit school choice advocacy group EdChoice, said he is “agnostic” to which options are chosen, but believes the money should follow each student wherever they go. 

“Families are saying, ‘Let me have the resources that are due to me, that I get through taxes that are set aside for my kid, and then let me choose,’” Enlow said.

At the same time that states are pushing school choice programs, public schools — already dealing with declining enrollment — have faced budget cuts, teacher shortages, and laws and fights over what is taught in the classroom. 

More than 20 states have considered bills since 2022 that would give parents more control over the curriculum in public schools, from granting parents access to course materials prior to classes, to banning instruction on sexual orientation and gender and allowing parents to opt their children out of any classes. 

One state that has pushed such laws is Florida. The state has passed several parent rights laws since 2020, including changes to make it easier for parents to ban books from classes, a ban against discussing sexuality and gender identity in younger grades and a ban on teaching critical race theory in classes .

Florida’s 5 to 17-year-old population has grown 9% since 2012, but NBC News’ analysis found that  its public school enrollment fell 7% during that span.

Andrew Spar, the president of the Florida Education Association, the state’s largest teachers union, said new laws have unclear directions and handcuff teachers’ ability to instruct without fear of retaliation for what’s discussed in class. 

“In Florida, there’s so much micromanaging of our public schools, so many bureaucratic rules and laws that get in the way, that it becomes increasingly difficult for us to do our jobs,” Spar said. “Teachers are vilified; they can’t do their jobs.”

Cohen, from UCLA, said parents are unenrolling students from public schools when they either feel the curriculum is not teaching accurate history, or hope for more conservative changes in school policies and curricula. Her research found that funding cuts are among the policies “fueling mistrust” in public schools and could be leading families to alternatives. 

The states with the largest declines in public school enrollment also have the lowest per-pupil spending, Census Bureau data shows . Educators and researchers question whether public schools will bounce back from recent enrollment declines as districts experience a wave of financial struggles and closures . 

“Who is hurting the most are the students who have been most historically marginalized in society,” Cohen said. “When more kids are leaving the public schools, that’s less funding for the public schools and those who are left, are left with less.”

Catherine Allen is an intern on the Data / Graphics team at NBC News.


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