In 1976, busy California mother Joan Barnes wanted nothing more than to find a play place where she and her kids could enjoy age-appropriate, educational activities. Finding none, she developed her own innovative play environment within a developmental-based program structure now known as Gymboree Play & Music. Today, kids tumble and learn in more than 650 locations in 33 countries around the world, engaging in open play and classes designed to build cognitive and motor skills. As parents participate in their children's development, their kids learn to paint, play music, and interact socially outside of their preschool knitting circles.
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.
As a leading Illinois family- and child-service agency, Children’s Home + Aid serves more than 40,000 children and families each year through its child-development and -care programs, family counseling, and foster-care-advocacy programs. The organization's roots extend back to 1883, when the Reverend Van Arsdale brought into his home a young girl whose mother was in crisis. The minister's umbrella of care soon spread throughout the country, as he established advisory boards and worked to improve child welfare. Today, Children's Home + Aid focuses on early childhood and juvenile justice, preventing child abuse, and garnering positive child development in strong families.
The organization’s Raising A Reader program helps children ages 3-5 get "kindergarten-ready" by developing early language and literacy abilities. Much of this work incorporates full parental involvement; facilitators encourage parent-child bonding through everything from bedtime stories to engaging, brain-building activities. Currently helping more than 350 children develop these necessary scholastic skills, the Illinois chapter is just part of a larger national trend; in 2011, the national Raising a Reader program touched the lives of almost 118,000 kids across 32 states.
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The inspiring trainers at MetaBody lead troops of women workouteers in results-getting one-hour workouts several times weekly. The fun classes utilize a variety of exercises and disciplines to produce full-body results in a supportive environment ideal for both beginners and hard-core core-hardeners alike. MetaBody's motivational instructors will use your instinctual distrust of routine to their advantage. They’ll keep your muscles guessing with new and challenging moves during each session, so you’ll never fall into a boring, ineffective routine, such as regular teeth-brushing. Begin a day of litigating with a refreshing early morning boot camp session, or wind down by burning evidence and pounds with a late evening class. In addition to the fitness classes, you will receive a success guide to help prepare for imminent pound-loss, a nutrition guide, and a $100 gift certificate for individual coaching.
Every year, 826CHI publishes at least one book that draws from the collective imaginations of about 4,000 students from more than 150 Chicago public schools, spotlighting material crafted in a variety of creative-writing sessions. The best stories from 826CHI’s most recent writing programs and workshops will be compiled in the forthcoming 826CHI Compendium Vol. 3, a professionally published book that will be distributed to the student-authors and their families and sold to the public at the Boring Store on North Milwaukee Avenue. Each book costs about $5 to publish, and proceeds from book sales will help to fund and promote 826CHI’s programming, with the goal of engaging even more children in the art of writing.
The teachers and child development professionals at Bubbles Academy operate on a very simple principle: it is never too early, or too late, to start learning. That's why their music classes start practically at age nothing, and fitness classes go all the way up to mom and dad ages.
Still, the main focus of the curriculum is early childhood education, and the structure of the program is designed to help little ones achieve developmental milestones through art and play. From the cooking class for 2- to 6-year-olds to the Bubble Step class that encourages 2.5- to 3.5-year-olds to gently separate from caregiver, the programs at Bubbles Academy are meant to ensure kids grow up to be curious, creative, and confident. Bubbles Academy's programs have attracted the attention of some high-profile moms: Laurel at Chicago Mom Source called Bubble Academy's programs "perfect for a child who will be starting preschool soon."