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Guide to free homework help

What was Abraham Lincoln's favorite food, anyway? If your child's homework is sending you on a fact-finding mission, if they're having trouble with algebra or don't know how to start a research paper, there's more help out there than Google.

MomsMiami went on a fact-finding mission of our own, unearthing free Broward and Miami-Dade sources for tutoring, kid-friendly research materials and resources that will help you and your child find the right answers more efficiently.

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Broward County schools reconsider homework guidelines.

Here's a rundown. You may need to input your library card number, Zip code or student number (which you can get from your child's school) to access certain information, but the access is free.

Take a test spin through some of these online resources to get acquainted with what's available before your student comes home in a panic, wondering about Honest Abe's favorite dish. (It was chicken fricassee.)

MIAMI-DADE PUBLIC LIBRARY

The library offers free tutoring, plus plenty of resources on its website.

S.M.A.R.T. tutoring is offered at every branch from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays. Pre-registration is requested at the branch of your choice. "Kids can bring their homework or textbooks and their questions, and the tutor will go over it with them," said spokeswoman Vinora Hamilton.

Free resources are available on the library's website. Click on "Kids," then "Homework Help." Here's what's available:

  • Ask-a-Librarian: Chat online with a Florida librarian, 10 a.m. to midnight Sunday through Thursday; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
  • Databases: Include newspaper and magazine archives, kids' encyclopedias and test preparation.
  • Homework Links: A collection of kid-friendly, safe Internet site links organized by topic, from world history and famous people to art and science.
  • For help with any topic, call the main library at 305-375-2665 and ask for a librarian. "They are trained for that," Hamilton said. "Librarians are not just walking around pointing to books, they're trained in research, and if they don't know an answer, they'll find out."
BROWARD COUNTY LIBRARY

The library offers Ask-a-Librarian, plus help at its branches and on its website.

  • Broward etutor offers free online homework help 2 to 10 p.m. seven days a week. During the one-on-one tutoring session, students can chat with a tutor and get live interactive help, said Maria Gebhardt, libraries manager. Students who need help in math can see the tutor work out the problem on an interactive whiteboard. Someone writing a paper can upload the document for the tutor to read and offer suggestions, Gebhardt said. Questions about social studies, science and other topics can be handled through live chat."It's really an in-depth tool that can help students of all ages in all aspects of their schooling," Gebhardt said. "It's an incredible resource. If you're struggling with math and don't know what to do, you can come home and get help, confidentially, and not feel left behind."
  • Afterschool @ Your Library is free and available at several branches.
    • Carver Ranches, 954-985-1945
    • Deerfield Beach, 954-360-1380
    • Hallandale Beach, 954-457-1750
    • Hollywood, 954-926-2430
    • Lauderdale Lakes, 954-497-3627
    • Margate Catharine Young Branch, 954-968-3800
    • North Lauderdale Saraniero Branch, 954-968-3840
    • Northwest Branch, 954-786-2186
    • Pompano Beach, 954-786-2181
    • Riverland, 954-791-1085
    • Stirling Road, 954-985-2689
    • Sunset Strip, 954-749-2525

    Students age 6 to 12 can get free tutoring, homework help and reading practice 2 to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday at branches listed at right, except for Stirling Road, which offers tutoring 2 to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday. Parents need to register at a branch. 

  • SAT/ACT preparation: Three-part SAT or ACT preparation classes are offered throughout the year. The libraries also have workbooks, essay writing guides and vocabulary-building manuals.
  • Free computer classes offer basic instruction in Microsoft Word, Excel and other applications.
  • Databases and online resources: At the library's homepage, click on the My Library Online button. You'll see the Research Corner, where you can access online resources for any topic, plus dozens of websites to access research and reference materials for every age and subject.
  • BROWARD SCHOOL SYSTEM

    The Broward County school system discontinued its call-in homework hotline about two years ago, but it has a wealth of resources online. The Broward Enterprise Education Portal, or B.E.E.P, manages its online tools for students, parents and educators.

    The site offers a wide range of age-appropriate, safe, online research tools, including:

    • FCAT Explorer test preparation
    • Research tools such as online encyclopedias, dictionaries, atlases, kid-friendly websites, biographies and collections of articles published in magazines and newspapers.

      "Each one of these databases is filled with a diverse group of resources, so there's a tiny library in each one, all packed with articles, digital media and websites," said Michele Rivera, director of learning resources and instructional materials.
    • Online textbooks, with resources on how parents can help students.
    • Video how-to lessons on computer software, such as how to create a Powerpoint presentation.
    • Online catalog of all books and audiovisual materials in all Broward County public schools.
    MIAMI-DADE SCHOOL SYSTEM

    Miami-Dade offers a homework hotline, plus links on its website to other online resources.

    • Dial-a-Teacher: Offered 5 to 8 p.m. weekdays, this service allows students to call teachers and ask homework questions. Call 305-995-1600.
    • Dial-a-Teacher online: Students can email a question to a teacher. It's not a real-time chat, but replies are posted as answered.
    • Virtual library: a vast collection of research websites and online databases.
    HIALEAH PUBLIC LIBRARY

    The library offers free tutoring and test preparation, plus online resources.

    • Internet Public Library: Visit its website for links to help kids and teens by subject.
    • Free tutoring: Sign up at the JFK Library, 190 W. 49th St., Hialeah. Call 305-821-2700 to get on the waiting list.
    • Creative Education Institute tutoring for third through ninth grades is offered in one-hour sessions 4 to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday.
    • FCAT preparation for second- and third-graders is offered in one-hour sessions twice a week 4 to 7 p.m.
    • America Reads one-on-one tutoring is offered for kindergarten through second-graders weekdays at varied times.
    • Math tutoring for sixth-graders offers a ratio of two students per tutor. Times vary.
    NORTH MIAMI BEACH LIBRARY

    The library offers tutoring for middle-schoolers through a partnership with Florida International University.

    Sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders can get homework checked and get help on their weaker subjects through the free program, which also offers parenting workshops. Call 305-891-5535 or email library@northmiamifl.gov for more information.

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