Even if you took the same courses they are now struggling with - algebra, American literature, physics and chemistry - those days can suddenly seem like a long time ago. In fact, according to the May, 2005 MSI-ACI Homework Study, more than two-thirds of parents experience frustration when helping their children with homework, citing the main problems as a lack of knowledge, a lack of resources and a lack of time.
Hiring a tutor is an option, but that can get expensive. One helpful tool is Microsoft Student with Encarta Premium 2008, an all-in-one software suite that helps students write research papers, solve difficult math and science problems and learn foreign languages.
"Microsoft Student helps young scholars be more productive with their homework," says Dave Brooks, product manager for Microsoft Student at Microsoft Corp. "Instead of just giving kids the answers, it shows them how to find those answers themselves. And it gives parents a resource they can use when they're too busy - or simply unprepared - to help their kids with their homework."
Ann Mackinnon of Minneapolis recently purchased the software to help her 14-year-old son Ian with his math and Spanish studies. "Things have changed so much since I was in college," she says. "Even with the advanced math I took, the methodologies are different, so I couldn't help my son the way I wanted to. This tool helps him help himself and makes everything much more visual."
Mackinnon explained that instead of just giving Ian the solution, the software solves math problems step by step, just like Ian would in class. And a graphing calculator with 2-D and 3-D capabilities gives him a more visually engaging learning experience. Microsoft Student also includes a foreign language help section covering French, German, Italian and Spanish.
According to the MSI-ACI study, 84 percent of kids use a PC to do their homework, but 61 percent of parents say their kids don't always find what they need on the Web. Even when they do find information, it's accuracy is sometimes hard to confirm. Microsoft Student includes a premium version of the Microsoft Encarta encyclopedia, giving students an easy way to find information they can trust for reports or research papers.
Microsoft Student is available for download for $49.95 (U.S.) at www.microsoft.com/student. Microsoft Math, an enhanced version of the math features included in Microsoft Student, is available separately on the same site for $19.95.
"The most important part of helping my son with homework is getting him to the point where he can do it himself," Mackinnon says. "It not only empowers him, but it saves me time. After all, parents don't like spending hours on homework any more than kids do."