How to Teach Your Kids to Cite Sources

Document citation is a good practice because it acknowledges the authors who spend their time to research and write their unique literature. It also helps your readers to confirm your arguments from the source. It is important to know how to correctly cite and use the right format. 

Children can learn the basics of citation as early as the first grade. With help from parents and teachers, they can be taught the importance of acknowledging other people’s work so that their work can be acknowledged. Parents and teachers can use different methods. 

Having a backup for ideas

The early graders may not understand the whole concept of citation formats like the APA, MLA, and Chicago. They can be taught the basics, which are to note where they got the information from. If it’s a paragraph they are writing from a storybook, they need to note which book it is. 

For the middle grades, they can be taught to go deeper and note the book, author and the page they got their information from. The children will understand that they should always give credit to someone else’s work and by the time they get to the higher grades, they will not have trouble using the citation formats correctly. 

Choosing citation format

When writing assignments, university students are required to cite their work. Citing sources is not enough, but correctly citing in the right format gives the students better grades. 

Many students get confused when choosing the right format for their literature even though they have been taught in school. Whether it’s arts, humanities, social sciences or literature, students should not lag behind in their education because of citation challenges. They have online solutions for their citation challenges. The easy Chicago footnotes generator by is one of the best citation tools for all university students. Along with its writing services, EduBirdie’s tools are also very popular and this one is really a hot favorite of students. 

The importance of practice

According to the old saying, practice makes perfect, parents and teachers should teach children the importance of practicing how to cite. One of the best ways is to help them to cite through assignments. 

In the early grades, the instructor can walk with them through the process. For example, the teacher or parent asks the child to read a story and then cites the story orally. They can say something like the story is from the book xxxx written by and so on. 

The next time they read, the child in 3rd grade should be able to tell the book and the author. From the fourth grade, they should be able to write a few paragraphs and cite the book and author at the end of the paragraph. 

Citation formats

Before the children join high school, children and teachers can introduce the citation formats so that they will have an easy time in high school. One of the best ways is to teach children how to identify which literature uses each type of formatting. 

The next important thing will be to teach the children timely citation. They should not cite for the sake of citing, but they should know when to cite. The purpose is for their work to flow well and not to cause confusion to the reader. When they gain knowledge on timely formatting, they will become great essay writers after they join high school and higher education. 

Citing is a virtue

The citation should be taught as a virtue, important in research work. Whenever the children use a book, magazine or searches for something online, virtue dictates they give recognition of the book, online or any other source. 

Giving credit to sources of information should never be a decision to be made, but a responsibility to fulfill. This is an important aspect that should be deeply instilled in the mind of every child. The teacher or parent can ask the children to download a photo and use it to create a short story.

After the download, the instructor can ask them to take note of the source and write it below the photo. Eventually, they will understand the importance of citing every piece of information that is not originally theirs. 

They should not copy another person’s work

One of the central virtue of any literature is originality. Any writer must avoid plagiarism and create their original literature. Teachers and parents can instill into the children’s mind the importance of writing an original work. It will be okay to introduce the word plagiarism the earliest possible, its meaning and consequences. 

If the children understand well all the tips to avoid plagiarism, they will also understand the importance of citing other people’s work because failure to cite will mean it’s plagiarized. 


Teaching and learning is a process that cannot be achieved in a single day. Because the process takes time, each concept should be introduced in the minds of children early. The same way children are taught basic language and mathematical skills from grade 1, they should be taught the importance of citation from the same grade. As they continue to advance to higher grades, the concept shall be deep in them and they will never forget it. 

Author Bio: Julius Sim is the Head of Support Team at Edubirdie and he’s responsible for managing customer queries and issues related to academic writing. His focus is on running an error-free service and training the staff to enable them to provide the best service to the customers. His free time is for swimming, listening to jazz music and watching tv shows.

Photos by Pressfoto


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