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.
Since its founding nearly a century ago, the Stamford Jewish Community Center (JCC) has served as a focal point for the local Jewish community and a welcoming educational and fitness center for visitors of all faiths and backgrounds. Here, kids can play in early childhood classes, or learn to swim with youth aquatics lessons in the indoor pool. Forge new friendships with teammates in the JCC's adults softball and basketball leagues, or fill your brain with new knowledge during the center's frequent film festivals and cultural events.
STEP Preschool's teachers don't just shape kids cognitively—they also develop them physically. That's because the state-licensed preschool employs multitalented staffers who lead clinics in soccer, gymnastics, swimming, arts and crafts, outdoor fields and other sports to help refine the motor skills and kinesthetic learning of children aged 2–5. Physical education boasts as integral a role in the curriculum as reading and writing, math, technology, and other academic areas that prepare kids for kindergarten.
Wings Over Water prides itself on its Swimplicity curriculum, which emphasizes safety and comfort in the water to students. During four half-hour lessons ($26 per lesson) conducted in small class sizes, teachers will impart knowledge to fledgling fin-flappers in areas such as breathing, floating, basic propulsion, and safety jumps. And unlike the dolphins that sometimes teach renegade swimming classes in back-alley puddles, the instructors at Wings Over Waters have completed at least 40 hours of in-depth training, including certification in CPR and first aid. As Wings Over Water is a members-only facility, a one-year membership (a $50 value) is also included in this deal.
Kidville's wide range of classes and activities were developed by early childhood specialists who understand the importance of cultivating social and developmental skills for newborns, toddlers, and kids up to 5 years in age. Inside the bustling learning center, pint-sized participants engage in an array of activities, including a Rockin' Railroad music series and dance classes. Art sessions foster creativity and self-expression, while an on-site gym plays host to the Big Muscles Series to boost coordination skills. Additionally, kids up to 9 years old can call on Kidville to host their birthday party, which may feature themes such as princesses and knights, superheroes, or treasure hunts, to name a few. During these celebrations, the staff takes care of the invitations, set-up, goodie bags, and cleanup, allowing parents to join in on the fun.
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 and New Jersey.
Today, the certified Huntington tutoring staff utilizes 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 that stresses professionalism and confidentiality and encourages pupils to improve their grades honestly through dedicated study rather than shortcuts.