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.
From acting alongside Al Pacino to working with the casting directors of Boardwalk Empire and Argo, Joshua Nelson knows firsthand the hurdles actors must face, both in front of and behind the camera. As the head instructor at LaGuardia Acting Studio, he draws on his 20-plus years of experience to train actors of all ages and skill levels. Instead of emphasizing specific methods, Joshua weaves elements of Stanislavski, Strasberg, and other techniques into lessons tailored to each individual student. With these foundations of craft intact, pupils strengthen their chops for film, television, and commercials through scene studies and character development exercises. Joshua also emphasizes the business side of the industry by training his students in audition etiquette and resume writing.
Armed with college and graduate degrees from prestigious schools around the country, the certified instructors of Think Tutoring help kids succeed in school with innovative curricula and customized lesson plans. Tutoring starts with a skills assessment to determine the student’s lesson level and individual difficulties with the material. Customized courses then delve into school subjects such as reading, mathematics, and opening cardboard milk cartons without splashing yourself in the face.
At Build 'n Blocks, laughter drifts from youngsters, punctuating the buzz of motorized cars and the pop of plastic blocks snapping together. Kids preschool through eighth grade construct catapults, devise chemical compounds to create slime, and develop sparks of interest in science, engineering, and math. The instructors at Build ‘n Blocks stress that the earlier kids dabble in these fields, the greater their learning abilities will be throughout their lives.
While stacking Legos into replicas of cities or assembling mechanized robots with K'nex, kids develop a comprehension of basic physics without watching the Three Stooges try and run an elevator factory. During science experiments, youngsters strap on goggles to investigate and diagnose unknown illnesses, forming the foundation of inquisitive minds capable of problem solving. As they work together on laptops or around tables strewn with drawing and sculpting materials, they also form an aptitude for teamwork and social interactions. The team at Build 'n Blocks also fosters an appreciation for math and science through afterschool programs and birthday parties.
In 1977, career educators Eileen and Raymond Huntington opened the first Huntington Learning Center in Oradell, New Jersey. Their mission to give every child the best education possible is still going strong. They use an individualized approach to education, adjusting instructional tactics according to each student’s particular needs.
Due to their success in helping K–12 students prepare for exams and improve grades and study skills, there are currently 260 Huntington franchises open nationwide.
The certified Huntington tutoring staff utilizes testing and rubrics for assessing each child’s skills, academic needs and potential for growth. Tutors note student response to different testing and academic situations to craft a methodology sensitive to each child’s learning style. Teachers adhere to the company’s code of ethics that stresses professionalism and confidentiality, encouraging students to improve grades honestly through dedicated study rather than shortcuts.
Estelle Finkel had already spent two decades at the head of the classroom when she founded her Center for Learning in 1984. Today, the center's staff gives students a leg up with educational programs, including basic study-skills and college-advisory services, standardized-test prep courses, and tips on buttering up a teacher who is allergic to apples.