After running a daycare for 10 years and coming home at night to raise her own three children, Tiffani Wilson realized that sometimes parents need a night out. To meet this need Tiffani opened Just Kidding Around, offering parents the flexibility to drop off their kids aged 18 months–12 years for hourly stretches with no long-term commitment, contract, or promises to bring back their leftovers for the staff. Visitors are greeted by a DCFS-, first-aid-, and CPR-certified staff at the pristine, socks-only play area that combines a classroom, indoor playground, and kid-sized lounge. While under the care of Tiffani and her crew, kids take part in age-appropriate learning activities, such as studying math, science, phonics, and art, with plenty of time left over for educational games and video games. Additionally, healthy snacks are provided by Quality Catering for Kids for $5 per meal.
Kidtown USA came from the minds of educators and recreation specialists who created a program licensed by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services. Each location’s activity stations cater not only to entertaining kids, but also helping them develop skills for creative self-expression and social engagement. Kids explore the indoor play area, which consists of climbing structures—including a pirate ship and a train—before watching puppets act out classic kids’ tales such as Uncle Vanya Goes to the Zoo at Storytime Theater. Make Believe City’s open air and small, miniature rooms emulate imaginative settings such as a firehouse, veterinarian's office, or construction zone. Elsewhere at The Diner, red-and-chrome furniture and a classic checkerboard floor sets the stage for cooking lessons or snack time.
Since opening its doors in 1998, Language Stars has introduced more than 30,000 children to foreign languages with small-group classes and full-immersion activities. Through a selective process, Language Stars recruits ambitious teachers from more than 20 countries who share a common goal of revolutionizing how and when American children learn foreign languages. Parents and Tots Classes are available for children between 1–3 years old, and Kids Only classes are available for children 3–5, 5–8 and 8–10 years old. Absorbent little minds soak up Spanish, Mandarin, French, German, or Arabic with the help of their FunImmersion approach, learning naturally through games, songs, activities and art projects to help kids finally understand their foreign-exchange imaginary friends.
In its more than 12 themed play areas, Kids Town not only entertains little ones, but also helps them develop skills for creative self-expression and social engagement. Kids explore the indoor pint-sized city, wandering through the central market with a kid-sized grocery cart before paying a visit to the princess palace, sheriff's office, fire department, and pet clinic. Afterward, youths can cozy up to the pretend-only fireplace to read a book on the petite plaid sofa or enter the dramatically lit party room, with its galactic carpet and Earth-bound walls. All the while, the facility keeps kids safe with careful sanitation?aided by a strict socks policy and nontoxic, all-natural BabyGanics cleansers?and by forbidding all peanut products.
In 1976, busy California mother Joan Barnes wanted nothing more than to find a play place where she and her kids could enjoy age-appropriate, educational activities. Finding none, she developed her own innovative play environment within a developmental-based program structure now known as Gymboree Play & Music. Today, kids tumble and learn in more than 650 locations in 33 countries around the world, engaging in open play and classes designed to build cognitive and motor skills. As parents participate in their children's development, their kids learn to paint, play music, and interact socially outside of their preschool knitting circles.