At the Knowledge Network, experts in fields such as dance, spirituality, cooking, and writing teach a cornucopia of cultural, commercial, and life-skills classes with a flexible schedule of diverse classes held throughout the capital district. In Best Holiday Treats from Around the World on December 7 ($50 plus one nonperishable item for the Latham food bank), Chef Ric Orlando—champion of the Food Network’s Chopped—puts his signature spin on sizzling Hanukkah latkes, Kwanzaa peanut soup, the Italian feast of the seven fishes, and figgy pudding, taking holiday cooking far past the realm of microwave-cooked Peeps. Author and dream warrior Robert Moss imparts his synthesis of modern dreamwork and ancient shamanic practices in The Power of Active Dreaming on December 8 ($45), where students learn to solve problems, improve health, and spark creativity during nighttime reveries. Revisit bygone eras of hip hop with four Breakdancing classes ($45), in which students learn to spin, toprock, and perform basic floor routines under the guidance of instructor Turbeau, who has performed on MTV’s The Grind.
Beginning with two brothers, a neighborhood full of spectators, and a helium-neon laser, Mad Science today deploys entertaining educators around the world to inject hands-on science programs with an element of fun. Nearly five million children annually enjoy accessible lessons, which may take the form of a weeklong summer day program or a birthday party that explains the physics of the Earth's revolution around the guest of honor. Schools host afterschool programs every year, which may include a NASA-approved astronomy series, a Rube Goldbergian introduction to simple machines, or an exploration into the science of toys. Living up to their promise of melding education and entertainment, Mad Science's experts have teamed up with scientists of screens large and small to produce live stage shows such as Star Trek Live, CSI: Live, and Movie Magic.
Brian Leaf has spent countless hours parsing through Family Guy, Twilight, The 40-Year Old Virgin, and myriad other pop-culture phenomena—not for his own amusement, but to pick out SAT and ACT vocabulary words lurking in the scripts, which he's compiled in six books. A seasoned test-prep instructor, Leaf has helped thousands of students surmount standardized tests through his books and workshops, which dole out insider advice for taking the entire tests as well as specific subjects such as math, reading, and dodgeball. Students leave each session with a collection of McGraw-Hill guidebooks, tips on stress management and avoiding common avoidable mistakes, and strategies for each subject.
In the late 1970s, career educators Eileen and Raymond Huntington opened the first Huntington Learning Center in Oradell, New Jersey. Their goal was to take an individualized approach to education, adjusting instructional tactics according to each student's set of needs. Their success in helping K–12 students prepare for exams and improve grades and study skills quickly spawned franchises across New York, New Jersey, and elsewhere.
Today, the certified Huntington tutoring staff uses testing and rubrics for assessing each child's skills, academic needs, and potential for growth. The teachers even note the student's behavior in different testing and academic situations to craft a methodology sensitive to each child's learning style. Teachers also adhere to the company's code of ethics, which stresses professionalism and confidentiality and encourages pupils to improve their grades honestly through dedicated study rather than shortcuts.
Believing that learning and behavioral disorders stem from improper communication between brain hemispheres, Brain Balance Centers offers a drug-free, multi-faceted program to boost brain function. Physical and cognitive exercises combine with easy-to-follow dietary changes to address social, academic and behavioral issues associated with ADHD, Asperger's, and other social and learning disorders without the use of medication. Now more than 50 Brain Balance Centers practice this Hemispheric Integration Therapy, with professional teams tailoring programs to help kids improve focus and behavior, academic performance, communication, and social skills.
SIGNING Basics' instructors help their students learn to speak without uttering a word. Through private lessons and group classes, they teach American Sign Language to students of all ages and backgrounds. Introductory lessons lead students through the basics of the sign-language alphabet and movements. Advanced classes show students how to carry conversations, enabling them to communicate effectively or correct baseball coaches' faulty ?charge the mound? gestures. Instructors also offer workshops that impart basic techniques for businesses and groups.