Teaching your child about plagiarism involves explaining good research strategies like successful note-taking and idea organization.

How to Teach Children About Plagiarism

by Alissa Fleck

It's important to teach your child about plagiarism and the importance of honesty, as this is knowledge that will help him succeed in school and beyond. Research is an essential part of learning, but sometimes properly borrowing information can get confusing, especially when Internet use — and information — is so prevalent and easily available. Explain plagiarism and its consequences and talk through proper and improper ways of using information.

Teaching Plagiarism

Have a discussion with your child about plagiarism. Make sure your child understands the ins and outs of her school's plagiarism or ethics policy, and if one does not exist, consider writing one together.

Let your child do her own homework. It's okay to guide her along in her learning, but helping too much with homework teaches your child that it's okay to let somebody else step in when things get confusing or tough. Doing your child's homework also prevents her teacher from gaining an accurate sense of just how much your child understands.

Keep the work setting relaxed. Make sure your child understands the importance of doing her work, but do not place too much emphasis on letter grades. Putting your child under too much pressure to succeed — by focusing solely on grades — teaches her that the reward is more important than the process. Emphasize the importance of understanding and learning, not the final prize.

Help your child learn from her mistakes. If your child does plagiarize, whether intentionally or accidentally, do not ignore the reality of the situation. Discuss with your child why this happened and the repercussions to ensure it does not happen again.

Talk about what cheating means in the Internet age. Children may understand that copying from a book or classmate is wrong, but if they are old enough to be using the Internet for research, they may not understand where to draw the line. Discuss safe Internet use with your child and how to use and properly cite websites.

Teach your child alternate strategies to plagiarizing. Explain that word-for-word copying is always wrong and teach good note-taking tactics. Help her learn to formulate and organize her own thoughts so she won't be tempted to copy things she does not understand.

Items you will need

  • Books
  • Internet


  • Internet research may be helpful and rewarding for your school-age child, but make sure your child understands safe Internet practices by monitoring and limiting her Internet research and general use. Keep your child in sight when she uses the Internet and do your own homework about Internet safety.

About the Author

Alissa Fleck is a contributing writer for several community newspapers in New York City. She writes book reviews for an online magazine and hosts a monthly reading series. Fleck has also interned at a literary agency and worked as a university teaching assistant. She holds a B.A. in English and an M.F.A. in creative writing.

Photo Credits

  • Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images