After running a daycare for 10 years and coming home at night to raise her own three children, Tiffani Wilson realized that sometimes parents need a night out. To meet this need Tiffani opened Just Kidding Around, offering parents the flexibility to drop off their kids aged 18 months–12 years for hourly stretches with no long-term commitment, contract, or promises to bring back their leftovers for the staff. Visitors are greeted by a DCFS-, first-aid-, and CPR-certified staff at the pristine, socks-only play area that combines a classroom, indoor playground, and kid-sized lounge. While under the care of Tiffani and her crew, kids take part in age-appropriate learning activities, such as studying math, science, phonics, and art, with plenty of time left over for educational games and video games. Additionally, healthy snacks are provided by Quality Catering for Kids for $5 per meal.
Kidtown USA came from the minds of educators and recreation specialists who created a program licensed by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services. Each location’s activity stations cater not only to entertaining kids, but also helping them develop skills for creative self-expression and social engagement. Kids explore the indoor play area, which consists of climbing structures—including a pirate ship and a train—before watching puppets act out classic kids’ tales such as Uncle Vanya Goes to the Zoo at Storytime Theater. Make Believe City’s open air and small, miniature rooms emulate imaginative settings such as a firehouse, veterinarian's office, or construction zone. Elsewhere at The Diner, red-and-chrome furniture and a classic checkerboard floor sets the stage for cooking lessons or snack time.
Since opening its doors in 1998, Language Stars has introduced more than 30,000 children to foreign languages with small-group classes and full-immersion activities. Through a selective process, Language Stars recruits ambitious teachers from more than 20 countries who share a common goal of revolutionizing how and when American children learn foreign languages. Parents and Tots Classes are available for children between 1–3 years old, and Kids Only classes are available for children 3–5, 5–8 and 8–10 years old. Absorbent little minds soak up Spanish, Mandarin, French, German, or Arabic with the help of their FunImmersion approach, learning naturally through games, songs, activities and art projects to help kids finally understand their foreign-exchange imaginary friends.
E.nopi means "at a student's eye level"—and the Learning Center that takes its name from this principle sculpts its curriculum with that in mind. The director, Ritu Patel, has more than 10 years of experience tutoring math and reading. The tutors at this multidisciplinary learning center put the reins in their students' hands with their child-directed learning process that promotes independent and critical thinking skills, ensuring kids develop the skills they need at a pace they can handle, without getting bored enough to eat their homework and blame it on their dogs.
Enopi's reading and writing classes help younger students to recognize capital and lower-case letters while developing an awareness of grammar and spelling. Older students expand vocabularies and refine reading comprehension with colorful learning aids that prepare them for standardized testing. Enopi's math classes, meanwhile, stimulate critical-thinking skills with patterns, geometry, and props to develop spatial and cross-dimensional reasoning. Both the English program and the math program align with United States educational standards, allowing students to walk into any classroom in America and shout out the answer to any given rhetorical question.
A chorus of electronic beeps sings across Kiddie Kingdom's 13,000 square feet, where more than 62 arcade games, redemption games, and small rides galvanize youthful excitement in both kids and adults. After stuffing their pockets with tokens, guests compete for high scores on modern video games and arcade classics, such as air hockey and skee-ball. These redemption-style games shower the most successful players in tickets, which can be exchanged at the King's Treasure Chest counter for small toys, stuffed animals, and sports balls.
Elsewhere, the aroma of housemade lasagna, chicken wings, and pizza tempts players away from the arcade and into the onsite Pizza King restaurant. Here, cooks hand toss dough for thin-crust, deep-dish, and stuffed pies. The Italian cuisine also delights guests in a 100-person party room, where birthday boys and girls open presents and spin a wheel to win enough tickets to send their stuffed animals to college.