Like everything else in 2020, this year, back-to-school season looks and feels different. Some students are returning to classrooms occasionally, while others will transition from virtual camps to virtual classrooms.
However, families who reside in luxury condos in New York and Miami may have an easier time keeping their kids engaged in the new world of education with access to art enrichment programs, quiet study spaces, art studios and music studios. Amenity spaces have been adapted for children to use for creative pursuits and virtual learning.
“Remote learning from the living room was challenging when the pandemic first broke out,” said Ruth Sapir-Barinstein , a homeowner at Arte , a 16-unit condo in the Surfside neighborhood of Miami, and the sister of Alex Sapir , one of the developers. “There are so many distractions, and it was difficult to keep my kids focused. Being able to have them learn in a quiet space outside of our home but within our controlled environment is ideal for them and our family.”
Miami-Dade County’s school system opened Aug. 31 with fully remote learning and the possibility of some in-school learning in October with families having the option of continuing remote learning. Virtual school also means families can choose to stay in their second home without disrupting the academic year for their children.
“With the start of school ushering in the colder fall and winter months, prospective buyers are thinking more seriously about where they should hunker down and how child-friendly their buildings are,” said Giovanni Fasciano , one of the developers of Arte. “We anticipate they’ll greatly appreciate the safe zone we’ve created at the children’s playroom.”
From Playroom to Classroom
Children’s playrooms, frequently found in upscale urban developments, were originally meant as a place to play and socialize when getting to a park or playground wasn’t possible. Today, these spaces have become essential for parents who need quiet in their condo to work and a place where they can feel confident their children are productive.
“The children’s playroom at Arte was designed as an engaging space for arts and crafts and everyday play,” Mr. Sapir said. “Never did we think that it would present such a great solution for buyers adjusting to remote learning after a global pandemic forced schools online. Now that this is our new normal, we’ve designated the playroom as a safe and quiet place for kids to learn and concentrate on their studies.”
The playroom’s play area has been converted to a desk where kids can set up their laptops and do their assignments, he said.
“We’ve armed our concierge team with the resources to help parents book private, in-person or virtual tutoring sessions with vetted professionals knowledgeable in any discipline,” Mr. Sapir said.
At Waterline Square, on the west side of Manhattan, amenities scheduled to open this fall include a variety of activity spaces that are meant to be entertaining and educational for kids from toddlers to teenagers. The building includes the only indoor skate park inside a residential building in New York, according to James Linsley , president of GID Development Group, the Waterline Square developer.
“We have an incredible 4,600-square-foot playroom that looks like something out of a storybook,” Mr. Linsley said. “There’s an attached party room that can be reserved for private gatherings. We also have spaces that are perfect for learning at home, like an art studio and a music studio, plus plenty of open areas with tables, where kids can boost their creativity while getting schoolwork done.”
For art class, there’s the art studio, which can be used by children or adults and has markers and paper for younger children and clay and paint for older students. For physical education, there’s a separate children’s pool, tennis courts, an indoor soccer field and a rock-climbing wall.
Schools are opening Sept. 21 in New York, but approximately 40% of families are choosing fully virtual learning for now.
At 300 West at 300 West 122 St., a 170-unit condo in the South Harlem neighborhood of Manhattan, amenities designed for children to play and relax and stay fit have morphed into study zones.
“The host of spaces will certainly enhance distance learning and offer children the ability to get into the academic mindset outside of their homes,” said Rachel Medalie , principal at Happy Living Development and a sales director for Douglas Elliman Development Marketing. “The oversized children’s playroom features a performance stage where they’ll be able to practice reciting play lines or get into character for theater, while an easel and seating area are perfect for art, math or reading classes. Both the working library with private tables and the residents’ lounge are great spaces for studying for those who need to take tests or prepare for college admissions.”
Partnering with Local Institutions
While upscale condos offer amenities within their buildings, some also provide opportunities for residents by working with local organizations. For example, at Greenwich West, a 170-unit condo in Manhattan’s SoHo neighborhood, the playroom has been designed and programmed with the help of The Children’s Museum of the Arts. The museum is open for virtual classes and is working with families who want to form customized pods for arts education online or in a mutually agreed-upon location.
Greenwich West’s playroom is meant to encourage creativity and imagination with activities such as art, said Philip Gesue , chief development officer for Strategic Capital, development partner in Greenwich West.
Older children can study in the lounge or entertainment spaces in the building or on the roof terrace.
At 30 Warren St. in New York, a 23-unit condo building, residents can participate in a partnership with the Church Street School for Music and Art for in-home music and art courses for all ages. Parents can also work with teachers from the faculty to customize musical instrument lessons for any age. Music lessons can be held in a condo unit, in the building’s children’s movement studio or at the school. The children’s fitness studio can easily be adjusted to private space when needed. Virtual art classes for children include digital art, sculpture and assemblage with recycled materials, painting and drawing.
Depending on their age, children can also take in-person classes at the Church Street School in art, music and dance with limited numbers to manage social distancing requirements.
And at Quay Tower, a 126-unit condo in Brooklyn Heights in Brooklyn, the 1,500-square-foot children’s playroom includes seating areas where kids can do schoolwork. Adjacent to the playroom is a music room where kids can listen to concerts and get lessons through a partnership with the Brooklyn Music School. For physical activity, the developers partnered with local health and wellness facilities, such as Everyday Athlete to get priority for children to attend classes that sometimes have a long waiting list. Gleason ’s Boxing Gym will provide on-site classes at Quay Tower for kids and adults, too.
While some of these amenity spaces are free for residents, classes and tutoring typically require additional fees.
This article originally appeared on Mansion Global.