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How to Create a Virtual Learning Space in Your Santa Barbara Home


education and school concept - little student girl studying at home school in the perfect virtual learning space.

The Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic has created a roller coaster ride for school-age children living in Santa Barbara. So rocky that the Santa Barbara Unified School District has published a plan for the return of in-person instruction. That’s why Santa Barbara homeowners need to create a virtual learning space for their school-age children.

The growing numbers of infections in California have necessitated that the 2020-2021 school year starts in a full distance learning model. Our city doesn’t anticipate a full in-person school model until SB County COVID-19 data improves. For now, Santa Barbara Unified is offering different variations of in-person learning: from small cohorts, to hybrid models, to full in-person learning. Check with your school for the latest updates.

READ: The Santa Barbara School District

Preparing for At-Home Learning

While we may not know when our schools will reopen, we can rest assured there will be some level of distance learning in play as we move forward. The best way to prepare for it? Upgrade your home-learning environment by creating a virtual learning space that’s a comfortable, functional workstation for your child. Here are 7 important keys from the pros.

Key #1: Let Your Children Help
This is the perfect time to empower children by giving them a say in creating a virtual learning space where they can work. Take their input seriously and make sure there are designated areas for each child.

Toddler in a home learning space with shelves behind him

Key #2: Create a Learning Zone
A learning zone is a must. And it’s easy to create. While some more-distractible kids may prefer a desk in their room, most preschoolers and elementary-age children want to be where the action is. That means they’ll be closer to you, making it easy to field questions and helping them stay on task.

If possible, convert a little-used room into a learning area. If not a whole room, transform a corner in the kitchen or dining room. Turn an awkward alcove or even a little-used closet into a homework hideout. Another option is to mount a few shelves on a wall, add a desk underneath and, voila! you have an optimal learning station. Whatever you designate as the learning space, make sure to fluff up some floor pillows to make it comfy enough to curl up with an iPad or book. If there’s no natural light from a window, add a sconce or even a stick-on, battery-powered tap light.

Key #3: Make Organization Easy
We all know how quickly any kids’ area can get messy and dirty. But the more cluttered, the harder it will be for your child to focus. This is the perfect time to teach your kids the art of de-cluttering! Show them how to store papers and art supplies in bins in a nearby cabinet, and labels or clear containers so kids can keep up the sorting system.

If desktop space is limited, go vertical. Install a floating shelf, a rail, or a trendy pegboard next to or above the desk. This keeps everything visible while freeing the work surface from clutter. Let them grab high-use items, like pencils, from a desktop organizer or buckets hanging from a rail above the desk. A corkboard provides a place for reminders and a calendar.

READ: How to Declutter Your Home: Tips From a Luxury Realtor

Key #4: Size Accordingly
Your child may seem comfy sprawled on his bed, but an ergonomic setup is crucial for posture to instill good habits and to support writing skills. When your child is sitting, his desk should be at or slightly below resting elbow height.

Adjustable or kid-size tables and chairs are great when you create a virtual learning space, but you can hack adult ones and make them work, too. Just place a pillow on the seat of the chair and another one behind his or her back to push the child forward until those little knees extend about 2 inches in front of the chair. Then set a box on the floor to support both feet with thighs almost parallel to the ground.

Key #5: Block distractions.
Everyone’s house is full of them. Prop up trifold boards or tabletop screens to separate siblings. If the sibling is a wandering toddler, it may be best to keep him or her behind a baby gate. As for a big bro’s ear-crushing, Minecraft playing, a white-noise machine or a fan will drown out background sound.

Noise-canceling headphones are effective, especially since some kids enjoy studying to music. Stick to instrumental because research shows that songs with lyrics negatively affect concentration. For a child with attention difficulties, orient their workspace so that they face a wall rather than a window or even another room. If they have trouble sitting still, use an exercise ball as a chair.

Key #6: Get Creative When It Comes to Furniture
Space-saving furniture, such as a leaning desk or shelves, means more options for squeezing in your study spot. Plus, it’ll give you extra room for a seriously cool chair—perfect for lounging while catching up on nightly reading. A side table in a hallway can make a nice little desk. Wall-mounted desks save space.

Even the floor, with a wall acting as back support, is an option when it’s time to create a virtual learning space. Ergonomics experts say the floor is actually a better option than the couch. If your kitchen table or counter will be pulling double duty, pack a caddy or a rolling cart with supplies and store it in a kitchen cabinet.

READ: Moving to a New Home: 6 Considerations for Families

Key #7: Create Multiple Work Zones
Many experts recommend having different spots designated for learning in your home. For example, a desk for focused work, the dining table for projects, and a quiet nook for reading. Like adults, kids fare better if they take breaks, switch positions, and have a change of scenery now and then. Studies show that learning in various locations enhances a student’s ability to take in and remember information.

Here’s another excellent tip: fill a bowl with fidget toys your child can grab when they’re feeling restless. Add things like a smooth stone, gummy erasers, a stress ball, or even a few LEGO pieces.

These days, I’m always aware that buyers with children will need a new home where they can create a virtual learning space. So, if you’re a homebuyer with your goal to move to, or within, any of Santa Barbara’s amazing communities, give me a call at (805) 886-9378, or email me at Cristal@Montecito-Estate. With our low, low-interest rates, now is the perfect time to make a move and create a virtual learning space from the get-go.


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