Home and garden checklist

Published: Saturday, Sep. 15, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 6CALIFORNIA LIFE


Where do your kids do homework? If your home is like most households, it's the kitchen or dining room table.

According to a recent poll conducted by home remodeling website Houzz, 52 percent of respondents pointed to the table as the homework hangout so parents can "keep an eye on progress."

But that might not be the best spot for learning – especially when trying to juggle meals between math and history.

The right study space will not only help kids complete assignments faster, but they'll also learn more effectively, say the Houzz experts.

Besides the table, homework often is done wherever the kids and books land. In the survey, 13 percent reported that the homework spot in their house was "sprawled on the couch or family room rug."

That's not a good homework spot, either, say experts. In a recent study, the New Jersey Education Association found that the most important elements to a successful homework space are comfortable seating, ample work surface, a place to store materials and a distraction-free area.

Houzz offered these tips for a better homework experience:

• Choose the right spot. "A serene spot to study is essential for school-age kids, especially in a busy household," said Houzz contributor Laura Gaskill. "Find a space to dedicate to homework and quiet reading, and make sure no one interrupts when it is being used."

• Convert a specific area to a designated study spot. It can be a kitchen alcove, a corner of the home office or (surprise!) a desk in your child's room.

• Keep computers out in the open. When homework requires online time, keep track of Web browsing by positioning the home computer in a space that's open to the whole family.

• Keep it organized. That includes notebooks, assignments, supplies, notes from teachers, textbooks and reference materials.

To help with organization, designate a landing zone. That could include a hook for the backpack and a place to unload work. There's less chance of important items going missing.

Bring in a bulletin board to post important notes and a calendar. Let the kids personalize it with inspiring photos or creative artwork.

Have labeled storage bins and shelves handy to keep all the paperwork and supplies in order.

• Get creative. Get the kids involved in creating this space and making it their own.

"A room painted in a color they love and choose will give them a sense of ownership and pride in the space," said Houzz contributor Shawn Gauthier. "Giving kids a say in the style of the space, they might be more likely to want to spend time there."

For more ideas, click on www.houzz.com.


• Cultivate and add compost to the soil for fall and winter vegetables and annuals.

• Plant onions, lettuce, peas, radishes, turnips, beets, carrots and potatoes.

• Transplant lettuce, cabbage, broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower.

• In the flower garden, plant seeds of California poppies, clarkia and African daisies.

• Transplant cool-weather annuals such as calendulas, cyclamen, fairy primroses, pansies and violas.

• Fertilize deciduous fruit trees.

• Dig, divide and replant overgrown perennials after they finish blooming. Weed and amend flower beds before replanting.

• Sow a new lawn or reseed bare spots. Consider replacing lawn (or parts of it) with perennials.

• Put tulip and hyacinth bulbs in the refrigerator for six weeks prior to planting.

– Debbie Arrington

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