Like most good ideas, Gymboree Play and Music didn't begin in a business meeting?it began out of necessity. In 1976, Joan Barnes, a California mom, found herself frustrated with the lack of spaces where she could take her kids for safe and age-appropriate play time. Knowing that other parents were undoubtedly feeling the same frustration, she took matters into her own hands and founded Gymboree Play and Music. She consulted experts to design a curriculum of activities to foster the development of children?s cognitive, physical, and social skills through structured play. She hired a nationally renowned playground designer Jay Beckwith to design the proprietary play equipment at her centers. And her staff began conducting entertaining classes covering subjects ranging from music to sports to impart valuable lessons of imagination and physical activity to developing minds.
As their children learned and socialized, parents also found benefit in meeting and befriending other moms and dads in their local area. More than 30 years later, her vision has proved to be a success: more than 712 child-centered franchises now spread over 42 countries, bringing confidence and creativity to thousands of youngsters in several continents and to one in the center of the earth.
Since its founding nearly a century ago, the Stamford Jewish Community Center (JCC) has served as a focal point for the local Jewish community and a welcoming educational and fitness center for visitors of all faiths and backgrounds. Here, kids can play in early childhood classes, or learn to swim with youth aquatics lessons in the indoor pool. Forge new friendships with teammates in the JCC's adults softball and basketball leagues, or fill your brain with new knowledge during the center's frequent film festivals and cultural events.
Childcare and tutoring. For busy families and working professionals, this bundle of services can solve a lot of problems. College Nannies and Tutors takes on the task of hiring and placing qualified nannies and baby sitters with families, eliminating the hassle of extensive research and interviewing. When those babies and kiddies get big enough to study, they can call on a team of tutors to make learning engaging and fun. With one-on-one mentoring, the agency uses clearly structured programs to help students reach their full potential. They tutor all ages and all subjects, and can ready pupils for standardized tests such as SATs.
STEP Preschool's teachers don't just shape kids cognitively?they also develop them physically. That's because the state-licensed preschool employs multitalented staffers who lead clinics in soccer, gymnastics, swimming, arts and crafts, outdoor fields and other sports to help refine the motor skills and kinesthetic learning of children aged 2?5. Physical education boasts as integral a role in the curriculum as reading and writing, math, technology, and other academic areas that prepare kids for kindergarten.
The YMCA of Long Island is committed to promoting three focus areas: youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility. In fact, it's easy to see how everything the organization does contributes to at least one of those goals. The on-site child care, the day camps, and the youth sports programs help kids learn teamwork, discipline, and other skills. The cardio fitness centers, weight rooms, and group exercise classes keep members in shape. And finally, the counseling services, financial assistance, and volunteer opportunities prove the centers are more than just a place to play sports or go for a swim. All of these programs and services are available at the five Long Island locations, which together spell out the letter "Y" on a map if you squint really hard and believe.
At Kids U, upbeat instructors camouflage learning as playtime. They invite youngsters and parents into a kid-size gym that jump starts imagination with vibrant colors and a multitiered PlayQuad. The 17-foot playground spans 2,000 square feet of indoor space, where children explore tunnels and soar in swings. At classes, teachers inject freestyle play with structure while still allowing for creativity. The small, laid-back sessions cover subjects that range from gymnastics to cooking and building with LEGOs, all while interweaving themes such as teamwork and motor skills. The instructors pioneer similar subjects in three-hour day camps, molded around the Summer Olympics. Kids U's parties combine the fun center's two signature styles of recreation—freestyle fun in the PlayQuad and ordered activities—according to chosen themes, which, like concepts kicked around for the White House Correspondents' dinner, include Rock Star and Pajama Party.