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

January 22, 2021

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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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Client Reviews

“Cristal is a pleasure to work with! Her knowledge of the local real estate market coupled with her amazing listening skills resulted in her showing us an array of homes that were all excellent choices. Her low-pressure patient attitude made us feel extremely comfortable with the whole process. I cannot recommend her highly enough.”

- M.F.

“Cristal Clarke is #1 in her field - and you don't become #1 by luck. Cristal works harder, and longer, and with more charm and patience than any real estate agent I have ever worked with in the past; her calendar has no weekend, her days have no clocks, her only concern is selling your property as soon as possible and for the best price on the market. Am I a fan? You bet!”

- P.B.

“We have used Cristal now several times and cannot express how grateful we are for her expertise, dedication, and unwavering support throughout the entire home-buying process. Cristal is knowledgeable, patient and attentive. Her attention to detail is remarkable, and she consistently went above and beyond to provide us with all the information and resources we needed to make informed decisions. Cristal is a skillful negotiator and advocate. She can navigate complex negotiations with professionalism and grace and felt like a true partner to us in the home-buying process. Cristal has a genuine passion for real estate and a deep commitment to her clients' satisfaction. I cannot speak highly enough of Cristal and her exceptional service. She is a true expert in her field and her dedication to excellence, combined with unwavering support is the reason we choose to work with her for all our real estate buying needs.”

- T.C.

“Cristal is a top-notch realtor who sold my home before it ever went on the market. I had two competing offers that enabled me to get top dollar for my home. Not only is Cristal superb but her team is extraordinary. I cannot say enough about Cristal and her team. They are simply phenomenal, the consummate professionals, who took care of every possible detail, making the sale and transition period, smooth from our end. They are also lovely, caring people, who knew all the right professionals, to get the job done. Thank you, everyone!”

- D.R.

“I could list lots of cool adjectives to describe Cristal. All good by the way. But, that is not why I or anyone should hire Cristal. My reason for hiring her, which proved to be correct, is very simple. She got the job done. And, she does it time and time again and with zero issues. And, that is why she is one of the top agents in the country. End of subject. ”

- M.A.

“Working with Cristal was a complete pleasure. Cristal was extremely patient with us as we evaluated nearly 2 dozen homes over a span of 2 years. Her knowledge of the market is unmatched. Cristal provided us with exceptional counsel as we evaluated opportunities and negotiated pricing. The closing process was handled thoroughly and efficiently. We could not be happier with our purchase and even more happy to now call Cristal our friend.”

- D.K.

“Cristal Clarke has conducted numerous real estate transactions for me beginning 13 years ago with the purchase of a Lemon Ranch. She has handled both large and small purchases and sales with equal dedication. As a negotiator, you can’t find anyone better. Her transactions are always conducted in the most appropriate and professional manner. Cristal has considerable knowledge of the Santa Barbara market.”

- S.N. Decker Ph.D.

“Living in Europe, we were to say the least, unaccustomed to the nuances of Real Estate acquisition in California and Cristal steered us through the process with absolute professionalism and personal attention to detail at every turn. Her in-depth knowledge of the market place combined with enthusiasm and drive was the only reason we secured the property of our dreams and will be forever grateful. If you are looking for personal discrete and private representation of the highest quality we suggest you look no further than Cristal Clarke.”

- Johan and Paula van den Berg

“Cristal is very straightforward, cheerful, helpful, professional and trustworthy….we felt very lucky to work with her.”

- John and Lacey Williams

“After considering our many choices, we are grateful it was Cristal Clarke of Sotheby’s International who represented the sale of our Montecito cottage. We are familiar with Cristal’s reputation of hard work and dedication to clients, but it was her attention to detail that made our experience so positive. She offered suggestions for staging the property, worked in harmony with potential buyers and was even able to secure back up offers. The sale of our cottage was completed much sooner than we expected, due in great part to Cristal’s professional skills and support. We highly recommend Cristal as a first choice for anyone needing representation with real estate.”

- Michael & Nancy Lee

“Our experience in working with Cristal Clarke resulted in the successful and discrete acquisition of a property which was not yet on the open market. Her knowledge of the Montecito/Santa Barbara area and vast expertise blended with her passion for real estate and architecture, provided us with the very highest level of professionalism and personalized services. Cristal exhibited a rare combination of excellent communications, attention to detail, creativity and patience.”

- Richard and Catherine Frinier

“Cristal really breaks the mold. She knows every nook and cranny of this real estate market, understands value, and follows up on everything, all the time. She was incredibly patient with our two year quest to find the perfect house. Every house hunting trip from across the country was well planned, and our time was never wasted. On top of her professionalism and expertise, she is delightful to spend time with. We are thrilled with the home we purchased, and grateful to Cristal for so wisely advising us through this process, right through to the close and beyond.”

- Laurie Siegel

“We met Cristal first in the course of renting a winter home (for three years), then buying a house using her as our agent. She was amazingly good at listening to our wants and showing us homes that fit our needs. Her mastery of the paperwork was perfect. Most importantly, there was never a situation where we doubted her straightforwardness or integrity. If we do another real estate transaction in Montecito (which I doubt, we’re happy with what we purchased), without question we’d use Cristal again.”

- Ken Saffir

“Susan and I just want to thank you for your efforts in the sale of our home. You are really quite amazing. Your competence, persistence, optimism and humor made the entire process effortless. Every problem that arose, you somehow fixed; any obstacle, you overcame. We have bought and sold many homes. It has never been such a painless and enjoyable process!”

- Michael & Susan Marquart

“A little something about “our” realtor, Cristal Clarke. My wife and I came to Santa Barbara about fifteen years ago looking for a seasonal home from which to enjoy the weather and amenities of the central coast. Being in the real estate business myself I was familiar with agents and brokers so entered the market with open eyes. We “flipped” a few houses in the early years, dealing with various agents and finally ended up in Montecito. That’s when good fortune put us together with Cristal. To say we were impressed is to put it mildly. Cristal really knows the market. She is familiar with the area, its history and trends. When we have questions about a particular property she either has the answers immediately or gets back to us by phone or email. There is no waiting or wondering with Cristal. She is an agent who is “on top of it.” Her recommendations as to price points, contractors, inspectors and title agents have proven to be exceptional, showing great insight and the highest professional standards. We consider ourselves exceedingly fortunate to say that Cristal Clarke is our realtor and would recommend her services to any serious buyer or seller.”

- Rob & Judi Kelch