When Karen Beninati's son was young, she had a hard time finding a childcare facility with which she felt comfortable. So she decided to create WeVillage—a drop-and-go daycare, preschool, and summer camp that parents would feel comfortable leaving their kids at and a place where kids would actually want to go.
To put parents at ease, Beninati hired professionals with degrees in early childhood education and certifications in first aid and CPR. She also ensured they went through a thorough background check. To make WeVillage a place kids wanted to go to, she decided to offer activities such as dodgeball in the park, drawing, and visits to nearby museums.
All the activities at WeVillage are aimed at helping children improve their mental and physical skills while building the social skills necessary to succeed in school and make meaningful connections with their peers. Kids at WeVillage are also exposed to international culture via yoga classes, world music, and global cuisine.
Munchkin Playland's pint-sized playground invites children ages four and younger to socialize and explore under parental supervision. Modeled after the adorably miniature Oregon landscape, the play area features climbable objects such as a duck, a beaver, a tree, and a wooden bridge. An adjacent cafe welcomes adults with local coffee from Stumptown roasters, and lets kids refuel with healthy snacks such as bananas and yogurt.
The Westside Dance & Gymnastics Academy provides a safe, creative, and positive space for children to challenge themselves, develop physical fitness and self-discipline, and work out more than 90% of their wiggles. A family membership (one time fee of $25) allows you to register any family member for any of the myriad classes and programs offered at Westside. Dance classes are available for toddlers, adults, and all movers and shakers in between (1–2 hours a week; $60–$120 a month). Enroll budding Baryshnikovs in toddler ballet or preteen movebusters in hip-hop, and view the ensuing rhythms at the annual dance recital. Westside offers gymnastics classes tailored to boys and girls of all flexibility and experience levels in a 12,000-square-foot gym filled with USA Gymnastics–certified equipment (1–2 hours a week; $63–$126 a month). See the schedule for full dance and gymnastics class listings.
My Masterpiece Art Studio Directors Kaylin Dodge and Ilse Coffman furnish a family-friendly studio in which novice paint-slingers and budding sketch artists of all ages can explore their creative proclivities in an unconfined environment. Stations are set up like mini studios to inspire finger-painting toddlers, maze-drawing middle-schoolers, and emotion-releasing teenagers to new heights of artistry.
Play Boutique makes a thoroughly wholesome experience out of the classic childhood combination of snacks and playtime. Kids burn off energy in structured but creative educational play sessions, stopping for snacks made from ingredients such as Tillamook cheddar cheese, low-fat greek yogurt, and fresh fruits and veggies. Themed events often arrange for simultaneous parents' date-night entertainment and kids' activities.
Kate Dessommes has traveled the world in search of techniques to further her knowledge of yoga. She began with a five-year apprenticeship under Luciana Proaño in Portland before packing her bags for New Zealand to study with instructor and author Donna Farhi and John Friend, founder of Anusara yoga.
At Portland Yoga Studio, Kate and her team of instructors fold those globe-gathered techniques into classes that incorporate Ayurveda, asanas, meditation, and relaxation techniques. They also offer special classes for students who otherwise might not be able to participate, such as those with MS, fibromyalgia, arthritis, or problems balancing. Classes for children and families round out the curriculum, giving parents and their kids a new way to bond that’s more active than watching television and safer than traveling to the future by falling into a coma together.