Within the multihued walls of Kidville’s indoor playland, tykes expand their minds, network with members of their peer group, and deplete their vast energy reserves. Babies, toddlers, and kids 6 or younger delve into classes developed by Kidville’s early-childhood-development gurus. Burgeoning Beethovens can swivel their hips, flex their sing-along muscles, and edit their massive music manuscripts during one of Kidville’s music and dance classes, or enlist in one of the art classes to create a piece that captures their inner rage toward broccoli. Fun and fit gym classes let tots run, roll, and hover through gauntlets of plush blocks and spongy play mats. Clasping hands and scampering legs can also roam freely through Kidville’s sprightly indoor playspace, though all munchkins must be supervised by a parent, guardian, or trustworthy primate.
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.
Listen. You’re a creative person. You know it, I know it. So what if you spend your life hunched in a cubicle, writing reports summarizing and aggregating multiple reports into a daily report in preparation for the weekly and monthly reports? There’s something inside you; something bright and starlike that burns in your soul like a fire-breathing dragon. (Only smaller and maybe without wings or fire breath, but with some impressive firelike appendages coming out of its nose instead, like star-nosed moles. Those little pink nose tentacles are as good as fire.)
Spotlighted in Time magazine and the New York Times, Music for Aardvarks and Other Mammals is a nationally renowned program offering a unique take on musical education for children 3 months to 4 years old. Classes consist of 45 minutes of singing, dancing, musical storytelling, and jamming. Children's songsmith David Weinstone designed a curriculum celebrating the urban environment as well as universal concerns of youth via his classes, which have exploded into the national spotlight since their humble beginnings in 1997. Rather than being strict and results-driven, the teaching style at Music for Aardvarks is based on adult modeling and exposing children to ideas and sounds without dumbing them down. Parent participation is strongly encouraged for atonal squealers and former Yes drummers alike. Check the Music for Aardvarks website for the drop-in sessions and 10-class series schedules.
Raised in France by German-Egyptian parents who spoke English at home, Maurice Hazan was destined for a life in linguistics. The author of 80 books in 10 languages, the polyglot began leading French classes in the U.S. 20 years ago, where he first developed what would become his intuitive QTalk method. Whereas some techniques prepare students to pass an exam, and then the stuents immediately forget their lessons, Hazan's picture-based programs etch vocabulary into long-term memory by minimizing written English and making students cover their dictionary tattoos. His classes emphasize speaking in complete, grammatically accurate sentences from day one.
Adults and children can join level-appropriate programs, which Hazan is constantly improving by developing new games and study devices in the school's basement workshop. The classes that aren't led by Hazan himself are conducted by a staff of native Spanish, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, and other language speakers, all of whom he's trained himself.