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Summer school: Free online educational activities for students and adults

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(Read caption) Khan Academy teaches users visually. Here, an instructor uses a diagram to explain the US Social Security system, part of a 13-video series on American civics that includes pensions, a fiscal cliff explainer, and Medicare sustainability.

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When Jeanne Cairns Sinquefield’s goddaughter Kelley Sandhu, a student at St. Louis University, began to struggle to keep up with her advanced science classes, it was clear that, short of a magic wand, this godmother didn’t have what it takes to help.

When it comes to helping their kids with homework, many parents admit defeat while parsing through their kid's math and science assignments. However, Ms. Sinquefield found help for her goddaughter in free online tutoring resources, and she credits them for helping Ms. Sandhu make it to graduation last Sunday. She received a degree in organic chemistry.

“Kelley would come to me for help with organic chemistry. I would look at the assignments and it was just sort of a blur. Greek. Total Greek,” says Sinquefled in a phone interview with The Christian Science Monitor. “I was like, uuhhmmm don’t call me for help.”

However, Sinquefield, who holds an impressive educational pedigree and founded the Sinquefield Charitable Foundation, refused to quit and started looking for solutions online.

“I have raised four or five other children beside my own and Kelley was always with us,” she says. “When it comes to kids having difficulties in school, my theory is to never wait for a teacher who has 30 other kids in the room to get around to helping yours. Help them yourself, any way you can.”

Sinquefield went to the university and asked if Kelley could fulfill her community service hours needed to graduate by researching and testing various online tutoring sites, then sharing her findings with the Missouri Children's Education Alliance, with local charter schools, and in the local newspaper. Administrators gave her a green light. “So she got her free tutoring and she got her hours,” Sinquefield says proudly. “Believe me, it’s not the teacher’s fault that they have so many students. The teachers are all trying at every level from grade school on up. But hell’s gonna freeze over before they have time to get to your kid.”

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