At Creative Hands Early Learning Child Development Center, kids zoom down the playground slide, experiment with handprint art, and learn new, age-appropriate skills under the staff's watchful eye. With programs for youngsters ranging from infants to 12-year-olds, the center's curricula vary widely, but they all emphasize the idea that learning and play aren't mutually exclusive. The teachers also allow kids to work at their own pace and skill level, cultivating a can-do attitude and a love of learning, rather than a belief that learning should be avoided at all costs.
The caretakers at The Learning Experience emphasize education first, employing a proven set of teaching methods such as Fun with Phonics and their own L.E.A.P. program, designed to meet children at their current level of development. Infants as young as 6 weeks are nestled in their own individual cribs and allowed to roam an exploration-inspiring playzone, and those just a few months older may get the chance to learn sign language. Older kids move at their own pace through more advanced classes that cover early reading skills, basic math concepts, and dance and movement sessions. Besides preparing preschoolers for kindergarten with accelerated literacy and critical thinking, the curriculum includes introductions to modern technology, from digital cameras to DVD players.
Educational explorations take place in an environment designed for safety: brightly colored walls with rounded corners help prevent accidents in the halls, and Child Safe 'N Secure key tags can reveal the location of any student at the push of a button. Outside, kids frolic on playgrounds rooted in a cushy rubberized surface, and indoors is a "Make-Believe Boulevard," where cartoon animals run retail stores and children can get a taste of what it will be like when they're all grown up and can reach the top of the fire station.
It's one of the central rituals of youth: summer camp. No child should be deprived of the joys of canoeing under an open sky, sleeping in a rustic cabin, telling stories around a campfire, and spit-taking at a lonely sasquatch gazing mournfully from the forest. That's why the YMCA runs two camps in eastern Michigan. Just an hour from downtown Detroit sits Camp Ohiyesa, located on the edge of Fish Lake in the middle of lush farmland. And at Camp Nissokone, 170 acres of lakefront campground offers everything from horse riding to wakeboarding to arts and crafts.
After having her first child, Rosa Lee had trouble finding a place that was equal parts play time for kids and chill time for adults. So in 2006, she took matters into her own hands and opened such a place. Rosa called her creation My Urban Toddler, a city-themed play center for kids and a welcoming, knowledgeable community for adults. Here, explorers aged 5 and younger can visit a firehouse, a market, a library, and even a theater for rounds of dress-up, story time, and puppet shows. Parents, meanwhile, enjoy various onsite grownup attractions, including classes and a boutique-style retail shop stocked with apparel, toys, and books.
The Magic Closet owner Sandra Riccio-Muglia is no stranger to the stress of planning a birthday party, since she has two kids of her own. That parenting experience, combined with 14 years of hosting VIP events for adults, equipped Sandra to plan themed parties for children to teenagers in a 2,400-square-foot location. Although they're welcome to stick around, parents can take a load off and sip coffee as the staff take the reins for parties centred around Barbies, Harry Potter, Rockstar Diva, Lego, create-a-bear, or other kid-friendly themes.