Kids' classes. They're enriching, they give parents some well-deserved downtime and they're a great way to meet other families. New York City has an incredible range of classes for children of all ages. We've got the scoop on all kinds of programs, from organized sports like basketball and tennis, to performing arts such as musical theater and dance, to more offbeat offerings like trapeze and archery, and many more.
Below you'll find our roundups and reviews of NYC kids classes, all written by local moms. We even have posts about FREE classes and programs for moms, too. Be sure to check out our Class Directory where you can browse programs by category, location and age range.
As a Staten Island mom with a toddler and a tween, I've been to the Staten Island Zoo many, many, many times. I don't really need an excuse to visit this eight-acre animal oasis filled more than 350 different species, including lots of reptiles, two rare Amur leopards and the weather-prognosticating/mayor-biting groundhog Staten Island Chuck. But now my family has a great new reason to go: The zoo's recently opened Conservation Carousel featuring two-dozen handcrafted wooden creatures to ride.
The Staten Island Zoo is my family's favorite place to see animals in NYC because it's intimate (we love the Bronx Zoo, too, but it can be overwhelming), rarely crowded and secluded, so you feel like you're going on an out-of-the-city adventure. But since it's an independent institution (it's not affiliated with New York City's five other Wildlife Conservation Society zoos) and located in the so-called "forgotten borough," it's often overlooked by families who don't live on the isle. I'm here to tell you, it's worth the trek. It's near public transportation (there's also a free parking lot) and has lots of special attractions for kids, including a petting zoo and the new carousel, so it's a great daycation destination—then you can stick around and check out some of the other cool things to do with kids on Staten Island.
Summer has almost officially arrived and the New York City Parks Department is gearing up for three sessions of FREE swimming lessons for all ages, plus other no-cost aquatic programs. To try to snag a spot, you need to enter an online lottery, which begins on Friday, June 13. We've got the scoop on how to apply for the swim lessons lottery as well as additional information about these popular programs.
In our increasingly tech-driven world, knowing how to code is an invaluable skill. But kids who code don't really look at it that way—they just think it's lots of fun to design video games and create websites and make robots move. Take my 10-year-old: He first caught the coding bug back in second grade after attending a demo led by RoboFun where he learned about the wonders of Scratch, an easy-to-use programming language specifically aimed at children ages 8 to 16. Ever since then, he's continued to learn how to code at home thanks to FREE educational websites like Scratch's official site at MIT and CodeAcademy.
But even though he can work on his own, I'm a big believer in kids learning from other kids (not to mention the benefits of socializing with peers and getting him out of my hair for a few hours). So I recently researched coding classes for children in New York City to locate a program or two that would work for him. I actually found ten quality classes and camps for kids who have an itch to try Scratch or another computer programming language. You can find even more tech fun for kids in our Geek Guide.
We continue our series of posts about exploring Astoria, Queens with kids with a roundup of indoor places to play and learn in the neighborhood. When it comes to kids' classes, Astoria is one of Queens' biggest hot spots so we can't possibly list all of the wonderful programs on tap. Instead, we're highlighting places that offer drop-in sessions, as well as a few perennial family favorites that require longer commitments. Many of these spots attract residents from all over the borough . In fact, my kids and I come all the way from Sunnyside to hit The Yoga Room and super-inexpensive play space Kids Playhouse Astoria on a regular basis.
Here are 10 places where kids can play sports, swim, dance, bowl or just get there sillies out in Astoria, Queens.
When drop-in indoor romping spot PLAY opened its doors in fall 2010, we were impressed with its minimalist design, laid-back vibe and cute custom touches. But after the founders sold the business, the Greenpoint play space changed hands a few times and consequently underwent a lot of changes, not all popular with parents.
The good news is the current owners, Dave and his wife, Mish, parents to three-year-old Davin, have worked hard to bring back a lot of what families loved about PLAY in the first place, including the cafe with fresh coffee and complimentary Wi-Fi, clean and stimulating toys and equipment, and a friendly staff. They also made some great additions to the 2,700-square-foot space like a gym room, a music and art studio, and an eco-friendly play set in the main playground area.
"Three-five-seven-nine! Whose kid wants to cheerlead? Mine!" At the ripe old age of 7, my born-and-bred New York City daughter has settled on her career of choice: cheerleader. She even dressed as one for Halloween. Initially I told her, "Sorry sweetie, I don't think there are any cheerleading programs in NYC. It's mostly a suburban sport." But then I did the research. Turns out there are some NYC cheerleading programs that are open to kids from all five boroughs (not just students in specific schools). Who knew?
Before you balk, keep in mind that cheerleading is actually a challenging physical activity and offers similar benefits as gymnastics. Participants strengthen their muscles, improve their coordination and flexibility, and learn to work as a team. It's not all chanting and pom-poms.
So if you also have an aspiring cheerleader on your hands, here are eight NYC programs where they can work on their thigh stands, steppers and cupies.
You’ve probably seen kids wearing Yorkville jerseys, and if you don’t already know a child who participates in a Yorkville Youth Athletic Association (YYAA) program, you may have wondered what it’s all about. As one of the largest community-based sports programs for kids in the city, the organization’s reach and breadth is nothing short of extraordinary. In its almost 50-year history in Manhattan, YYAA has grown from baseball and basketball teams with 200 players total to a wide range of sports and performing arts programs serving 6,000 kids all over the city. But what makes Yorkville so appealing to NYC families?