When Joan Barnes founded Gymboree Play & Music in 1976, she envisioned a facility where parents and children could play together in a safe and age-appropriate environment. In the following decades, Gymboree Play & Music spread to more than 30 countries across the globe, helping youngsters from infants to 5 years old develop cognitive, physical, and social skills. The company's instructors lead classes such as Play & Learn, its flagship course, in which parents and kids move through a seven-level program filled with storytelling, play activities, and debates on the merits of sandwich crust. Talented staffers also prep youngsters for school and foster development in areas such as music, art, and sports. Throughout all classes, they make use of custom play equipment designed by acclaimed playground designer and seesaw-tamer Jay Beck.
With thousands of LEGOs on site, the staff at Bricks 4 Kidz create programs that entertain and educate by instilling curiosity about engineering, architecture, and physics. Events spark imagination and creativity while they discover and learn basic math and science concepts. Children channel there inner engineer all while improving their motor skills; developing self-esteem, social, and problem-solving skills; and fostering a sense of teamwork.
Model building classes and birthday parties focus on designing and creating structures such as carousel swings or catapults, and field trips also give kids the chance to work in tandem. In addition to the enrichment program, the facility hosts Kidz Night Out events, which allow parents to go out on a date without having to hire a babysitter or build one out of LEGOs.
Athletic & Performing Arts Center is a one-stop shop for kids' fun and athletics. It was born when two of Houston's long-running kids' gymnastics and dance programs joined forces. Now under one name, the instructors lead a variety gymnastics classes from Teeter Toddler classes intended for tots 16 months-35 months old, to an assortment of tumbling classes for kids over 6 in a range of skill levels. Available dance classes include styles such as ballet, jazz, tap, and hip-hop. They also host open-play sessions, in which kids can blow off steam after a long day at the lemonade stand.
Jerit Pogue, the owner of the newly unified APAC, says that he and his fellow trainers and teachers love seeing the glow of accomplishment on the kids they train, whether they just walked off stage or mastered a new trick in practice. "We have kids who cry everyday because they don't want to leave," he says.
Handicap Accessible: No
Staff Size: 25–50
Parking: Parking lot
Most popular offering: Gymnastics and dance classes
Pro Tip: Come prepared for kids to have fun and learn.
Sea Star Swimschool and Gymnastics Center's instructors guide kids through gymnastics courses, and shepherd students of all ages through swimming lessons designed to build coordination and promote safety in aquatic environments. Eleven levels of swimming lessons craft confident swimmers out of students of any age, with 30-minute lessons combining drills and activities that bolster aquatic prowess without surgically swapping out limbs with paddles. Students are separated by age and ability, with adults separated into beginner and advanced classes covering everything from tackling fear of the water to training for a triathlon in a supportive group atmosphere. Parents and hydrophobic invisible friends can watch children?s lessons in the facility?s viewing area, beaming with pride as their little aquanauts master a variety of strokes and breathing techniques.
The 45-minute gymnastic lessons?held within the 2,000-square-foot gymnastics gym?help kids build the coordination and grace needed to steal cookies from the cookie jar without setting off laser alarm systems. As their parents watch from a viewing area, little ones aged 1?3 learn activities that safely improve flexibility and strength on the gym?s padded floor. Older tots traverse the trampolines, vault, and balance beams. Kids 6 or older can advance to tumbling or classic gymnastics activities on apparatuses such as bar and beam rings, cultivating more confidence in their abilities than a heavyweight champion with the genetic properties of a butterfly and a bee.
Laeral Dance Academy works with dancers of all ages and abilities to hone the energy of restless feet into graceful and artistic movements. Inside a naturally lit studio adorned with wall-size mirrors, a coalition of professional instructors—many of whom have been dancing since the age of 3—train students in the fine art of stylishly stamping out floor fires during classes ranging from classical ballet to hip-hop. Ballet classes for students between 2 and 7 will focus on the Melody Bear method, which helps develop concentration and motor skills by integrating fun dance movements with shapes, counting, stories, and music. Tykes can also develop their jazz and tap abilities, finally enabling Morse code communication with downstairs neighbors. In addition to children's ankle workouts, Laeral Dance Academy hosts adult dance and fitness classes, including a calorie-scorching salsa aerobics class.
Owned by experienced coaches Jerit and Sarah Pogue, Alpha Omega Gymnastics offers gymnastics classes for beginning and intermediate gymnasts from ages 18 months to 18 years. Classes are held once a week, lasting 45–60 minutes and covering the fundamental gymnastics or tumbling movements and routines. Use the four classes to learn the art of falling with grace in tumbling, with classes ranging from the beginner-friendly tumbling level one to the more advanced level three, where pupils learn how to execute multiple back handsprings as well as flipping while blogging. Toddler gymnastics classes allow wee ones from 18 months to 2 years old to start an excellently balanced lifestyle early on, and older flip fanatics can master the basics of bars, beam, and vault in gymnastics courses grouped according to age and gender.