The Play Champs understand that children learn best while playing with parents and peers, especially outdoors. Accordingly, they break out of the standard classroom model and take their fun-focused academics to city parks, encouraging both parents and children to get up, get active, and get learning. Tummy Time sessions help children aged 4–9 months old develop gross motor skills while playing with their moms or dads. As kids begin understanding that they’re in control of those wiggly things at the end of their feet and enter school, playground sessions open up a safe but exciting space to burn energy and give free rein to their imaginations.
Darren Ko took his first crack at the SAT in 7th grade as part of a youth talent search program. He qualified for the program by scoring in the top 30 percent of testers—which included high school seniors. Years later, on the actual SAT, Darren achieved a 1590 before moving on to teach SAT classes in college.
Having mastered the test, Darren opened Infiniva Tutoring in 2001 in order to reach more students. The operation has flourished over the years and has branched out past the SAT to prep students for other major tests including the ACT, GMAT, and MCAT. Darren has recruited an all-star team of tutors, most of who have scored in the top one percent on the SAT. They strive to help bridge the gap between students and their individual goals, whether it be getting into a renowned college or beating a wax statue of Einstein in Scrabble.
At more than 900 learning centers across the world, Sylvan offers kids a leg up through personalized programs prescribed by an in-depth skills assessment. Students build on past lessons to learn progressively, and sessions may hone in on different disciplines, granting kids the confidence to interpret literature and the rhetorical skills needed to negotiate a later bedtime. The positive mindset of personable, invested instructors helps to inspire kids to greater academic feats, as does a prize program that rewards hard work with CDs and gift cards.
Argentina–born soccer enthusiast Gustavo Szulansky opened Super Soccer Stars to provide the boroughs with a program that championed the personal development of youngsters rather than solely a skill-based focus. Since its debut in 2000, it's grown throughout the city, helping countless youngsters learn teamwork, boost confidence, and decrease arguments during home games played on the dining-room table. This rapid growth is due in part to the positive values Gustavo instilled from the first class. His coaches are carefully selected for their ability to cultivate a noncompetitive, sensitive approach to learning the game, and they dole out their knowledge in both classes and camps.
Super Soccer Star's Kick & Play program features family-friendly classes that help tots 12–24 months old develop pre-soccer skills and physical skill sets simultaneously. During classes, a team of talented and enthusiastic instructors and an athletic duo of puppet friends named Mimi and Pepe buoy budding soccer players with positive reinforcement, individual attention, and the merry clickety-clack of cleated tap dances. Designed with the help of early-childhood specialists, each age-specific class helps players build skills at their own pace with positive reinforcement, individual attention, and engaging original music.
Creative Study Zone helps middle-school and high-school students develop an arsenal of academic skills. During standardized exam-prep courses, teachers lead lectures and conduct group exercises designed to improve test-taking strategies. Students also complete practice tests created by the College Board and review fundamental concepts in reading, writing, math, and spitball shooting. The center’s afterschool homework program helps students complete daily assignments while also providing motivational support, and private tutoring offers one-on-one instruction in a range of academic subjects.
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.
Icon Parking Systems' parking facilities safely house vehicles of all shapes and sizes as owners go to work, relax at home, or take in the sights of the Big Apple. Conveniently tucked in the most prestigious corners of Manhattan—which are also the areas least menaced by aimless teenage tow-trucks—these lots offer easy access to any number of restaurants, Broadway theaters, and concert halls. Many automotive stables have no daily or weekly time limit, so drivers may come and go as they please or leave rides in the same spot for dedicated, month-long portraits. Monthly customers can sign up for the Preferred Customer Club, which grants them an exclusive card and half-off parking at any of Icon Parking Systems' 200 facilities or UFO landing pads scattered throughout Manhattan.