By engaging children on their own level, the teachers at Kids R Kids childcare center and learning academy recognize their students for what they really are: developing brains trapped inside tiny, perfectly spherical heads. The programs hew to a philosophy of "Hug First, Then Teach," meaning they encourage a child's development on an emotional, intellectual, social, and physical level. Also essential to their teaching approach is family involvement—when new skills are introduced, the instructors make sure the parents know about the approach and aren't politically opposed to arithmetic.
They rely on their own curriculum, Brain Waves, which takes a neurologically based approach that combines educational lessons with good nutrition, regular sleep schedules, and secure relationships. Additionally, the Brain Waves curriculum helps develop brains with many forms of language (including sign language) and exposure to technology in a controlled environment.
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.
Tanya Gorguraki and Chris Chung bring more than four decades of combined diving experience to the classes at Dive Zone Scuba, a wealth of expertise that help the facility earned a five-star rating from the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI). The diving duo conducts confined water pool sessions in a heated Olympic-sized indoor pool, allowing students to focus on learning proper dive techniques in a controlled environment away from the ocean’s inconstant currents and heckling fish. Each of their courses equips students with certification in a particular area of diving proficiency, unlocking underwater avenues related to open water diving, rescue, or specialty skills.
Coach Shane Laurent and Coach Steve Barlow have a lot in common: both are fathers of three boys, both have about a decade of youth-coaching experience, and both believe that every kid should have the chance to learn their favorite game as early as possible. Backed by the Youth Football Coaches Association, years of experience on the field, and Houston Texans linebacker Connor Barwin, the two mastermind game plans for athletes aged 3–12 at Totball.
Totball's miniaturized version of an American pastime forgoes competition and tackling in favor of fostering camaraderie among teammates as they learn football basics. Girls and boys huddle up for fun-infused drills that hone agility, blocking techniques, kicking, passing, and catching. At the end of each session, parents get a scouting report highlighting their child's progress, strengths, and success in avoiding the temptation to see whether the ball might secretly be filled with candy.:m]]
Photographer Deborah Paulson specializes in posed and candid shots of subjects young and old. While traditional prints are available, her studio also affixes images to canvases, sterling silver pendants, or across the sides of purses. Onsite custom framing ensures that each image can be properly protected from the elements and wayward water balloons.
At Bay Area Equestrian Center, riders can advance from basic lessons all the way up to horse ownership and national-level competition on the Arabian show circuit. They do so under the guidance of Lynn Almond, who founded Friendswood Riding School in 1990 and turned it into BAEC in 1995. A member of the horse community her entire life, Lynn has used her wisdom to vault students to national championships in Western, Hunter, and Sidesaddle riding styles. Today, the center's visitors can learn from Lynn and her team during private and group lessons, which provide more detailed instruction than the riding directions scrawled across the belly of every domesticated horse.