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If your kids are writing a book report for school, these tips from Kids.gov can help.

Is That Online Degree Really Worth Anything?

Growth in technology has made it easier for more students to have access to online courses to fit higher education into their already busy lives. The flexibility of online courses makes it easy for students to attend class, complete assignments and get their degrees.

But when you’re not meeting with a professor face-to-face or attending classes on a campus, it can be hard to tell a legitimate online college from a fraudulent one. The Internet has made it easier for more and more of these “diploma mills” to spring up and take your money, while granting you a worthless degree.

Diploma mills, so dubbed by the Department of Education, operate without supervision from a state or other professional organization. The degrees they grant are either fraudulent or completely worthless because of a lack of proper educational standards.

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) suggests that consumers protect themselves from diploma mills by doing the proper research ahead of time. The BBB also suggests looking for these red flags to alert you to a fraudulent institution:

  • Degrees that can be earned in less time than at an accredited postsecondary institution, an example would be earning a Bachelor’s degree in a few months.
  • Tuition paid on a per-degree basis, or discounts for enrolling in multiple degree programs. Accredited institutions charge by credit hours, course, or semester.
  • Little or no interaction with professors.
  • Names that are similar to well known reputable universities.
  • Addresses that are box numbers or suites. That campus may very well be a mail drop box or someone’s attic.

Learn more about diploma mills and what to watch for before you enroll in an online university.

How to Help Your Kids with their Homework

There are many things you can do to help your kids start the school year on the right track, like replacing an old backpack or getting them the school supplies they need. But there’s something more meaningful you can do that may not cost money: help them with their homework.

Students who do their homework consistently tend to have better grades. It’s not always easy to get them to do their homework, especially after a busy day, but these tips can help:

  • Talk to your children about their homework. It’s important that your kids understand why it’s important to do their homework and the positive impact it has on grades. Homework helps them practice what they’ve learned as well as prepare them for upcoming classes. Plus, by doing their homework they develop the discipline and skills they need to be successful throughout their school years.
  • Talk to the teachers. Different teachers might expect different things from parents, so be sure to talk to them to figure out your role. For example, some teachers prefer parents review their kids’ homework; others prefer parents make sure kids do their homework. Teachers can also tell you how much time your child should spend doing homework and what to do if the homework is too easy or too difficult.
  • Select a fixed time to do homework. The best time to do homework is the one that works best for your child and you. It can be before or after playing, watching television or dinnertime. What’s important is that homework time is consistent. Avoid leaving it for the end of the day, when your child is tired and sleepy.
  • Pick a quiet area and eliminate distractions. To help your children focus on homework, pick a place in the house where there’s plenty of light and no distractions. It doesn’t have to be fancy. It can be the kitchen table or a desk. Make sure the TV is off and put away electronic devices, unless they’re essential to doing homework.
  • Get them the resources they need. You don’t have to be an expert in all subjects to help your kids with homework. However, you need to make sure they have the tools they need to succeed. If you need expert help, you can always take them to the library or help them with their search online. You can also visit kids.gov to find information on homework topics. The Department of Education also has several resources to help your child with homework in different areas, including math, reading and writing.

Learn more about check-ups and immunizations, shopping for school supplies, planning healthful lunches, and financial assistance for families.

Prepare for the new school year by making sure you and your kids recognize bullying and know how to stop it.