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General interest classes for New York City kids

Well-rounded kids can explore everything from art and sports to cooking and sewing in these general interest classes around the city.

  • Photograph: Courtesy The JCC in Manhattan

    General interest classes for New York City kids

    JCC in Manhattan

  • Photograph: Courtesy The Kings Bay Y at Windsor Terrace

    General interest classes for New York City kids

    The Kings Bay Y at Windsor Terrace

  • General interest classes for New York City kids

    LIC Kids Enrichment Center

  • General interest classes for New York City kids

    McBurney YMCA



  • Photograph: Courtesy 92Y

    General interest classes for New York City kids

    92nd Street Y

  • Photograph: Raymond Liang

    General interest classes for New York City kids

    Park Slope Armory

  • General interest classes for New York City kids

    74th St Magic

  • Photograph: Courtesy JCC of Staten Island

    General interest classes for New York City kids

    JCC of Staten Island

Photograph: Courtesy The JCC in Manhattan

General interest classes for New York City kids

JCC in Manhattan

Not everyone wants to be a specialist, especially if they're preschoolers (or tweens) who haven't yet figured out what they like the most. No worries, though; general interest classes held at places from the city's various YMCAs to the JCC offer a wide range of pursuits for kids with many interests, including foreign languages, performing arts and cooking.

RECOMMENDED: Kids' classes: NYC's ultimate guide to the best programs

Dodge YMCA
There are plenty of affordable classes at this Brooklyn center, including an array of options specifically for toddlers. World of Wonders uses stories to teach creativity, and Rumble and Tumble invites the under-three set to climb and jump. The Y also has a robust lineup of sports and fitness classes for grade-school children, spanning basketball, soccer, tennis, karate and dance. 225 Atlantic Ave between Boerum Pl and Court St, Downtown Brooklyn (718-625-3136, ymcanyc.org/dodge). Fall session begins Sept 3. Check website for tuition prices. Ages 6 months to 12 years.

Flushing YMCA
The Flushing Y's swimming program is somewhat legendary, turning out several Olympic athletes in the '60s. Today kids as young as six months can learn to love the water with more than 15 classes that cater to all skill levels. Landlubbers can opt for early-childhood, sports, art or dance programs instead. 138-46 Northern Blvd between Bowne and Union Sts, Flushing, Queens (718-961-6880, ymcanyc.org/flushing). Fall session begins in September. Check website for tuition prices. Ages 6 months to 12 years.

Harlem YMCA
Got a kid with energy to burn? The Harlem Y will take care of it with classes in soccer, swimming, tumbling, karate, dance and more. Other highlights include the Jr. Knicks, a competitive program sponsored by the New York Knicks, and a skiing class for teens that includes visits to nearby ski resorts. Y members and non-members can also take advantage of a number of programs, such as a catch-and-throw class and a dance class, for free. 180 W 135th St between Malcolm X Blvd (Lenox Ave) and Adam Clayton Powell Blvd (Seventh Ave) (212-912-2100, ymcanyc.org/harlem). All ages.

JCC in Manhattan
With an impressive wealth of programming covering everything from sports and cooking to swimming and science, this venerable UWS institution may already be your go-to spot for creative kids' classes. This year, kids can choose from a ton of classes including glow-in-the-dark yoga (ages 4 to 5), fencing (ages 6 to 8) and fashion design for tweens (ages 11 to 14). A Young Artists Create program introduces kindergarten and first-grade students to clay sculpture and other art mediums through hands-on projects taught by professional artists. 334 Amsterdam Ave at 76th St (646-505-5708, jccmanhattan.org). Fall session begins September 9. Fourteen to seventeen classes $504. Ages 1 to 12.

Kings Bay Y at Windsor Terrace
Kids can expand their horizons with courses such as a family drumming session led by Israeli musician Gilad. The Y's after-school program also offers enrichment classes, including KWT craftwork, in which kids ages eight to 12 learn decoupage, decorative knotting and other creative techniques. Children with disabilities, such as ADHD or autism, and their families can take advantage of the Y's Saturday Funday sessions, where they can dabble in art, drama, music, sports, yoga and cooking. 1224 Prospect Ave at Vanderbilt St, Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn (718-407-6377, ywindsorterrace.org). Fall session begins Sept 16. Eight classes $80–$160, single class $14–$25. Ages 14 months to 13 years.

LIC Kids Enrichment Center

The classes here might feel like all play and no work, but as children tumble, paint and make music they're also developing their social, motor and creative-thinking skills. The martial arts and Hip, Hop, Stomp classes are perfect for kids with energy to burn, while theater and Art Adventures appeal to creative types. Music, movement and gymnastics classes round out the list of offerings. 5-02 50th Ave at 5th St, Long Island City, Queens (718-392-5437, lickids.com). Fall classes begin Sept 9. Eighteen classes $475 and up. Ages 6 months to 10 years.

McBurney YMCA
The Chelsea Y hosts a variety of early-learner programs (ages 1 to 5) as well as after-school enrichment classes (kindergarten through fifth grade). Dance and science comprise a few of the toddler and preschool offerings, while big kids can study a variety of arts and academic subjects. McBurney YMCA, 125 W 14th St between Sixth and Seventh Aves (212-912-2300, ymcanyc.org/mcburney). Fall session begins Sept 3. Check website for tuition prices. Ages 1 to 18.

92nd Street Y

With its School of the Arts, Dance Center and School of Music—not to mention its countless sports offerings—this iconic institution caters to kids of all talents. Artistic types can sample programs in cartooning, photography, architecture or jewelry making, while those with a musical bent can take up the violin in the new First Fiddles class. Children can begin to master ballet, hip-hop, tap, jazz or modern dance, or write and perform original productions in Storybook Musical—one of several musical theater options. There's plenty to keep athletic kids busy too, with every sport from basketball and tennis to yoga, fencing and jump rope. 1395 Lexington Ave between 91st and 92nd Sts (212-415-5500, 92y.org). Fall session begins Sept 8. Prices vary; visit website for details. Ages 6 weeks and up.

Park Slope Armory YMCA
Kids of all ages can find fitness, sports, arts, music and dance classes at the Brooklyn Y, ranging from Story & Song for infants and art for toddlers to guitar, soccer and karate classes for older kids (ages 4 and up). 361 15th St between Seventh and Eighth Aves, Park Slope, Brooklyn (212-912-2580, ymcanyc.org/parkslopearmory). Fall session begins in September. Check website for tuition prices. Ages 1 to 14.

Ridgewood YMCA
Queens kids can sample basketball, soccer, karate and tennis, as well as ballet, chess, drama and violin. Parents of children under four years old choose from programs such as Little Picassos, an art class for preschoolers, and Three Steps Times Two, which is designed to help toddlers gain independence from caretakers. 69-02 64th St at Catalpa Ave, Ridgewood, Queens (212-912-2180, ymcanyc.org/ridgewood). Fall sessions begin Sept 3 and Oct 28. Eight classes $45–$185. Ages 6 months and up.

74th Street Magic

Whether your child wants to cook, draw or just jump off every surface in sight, this East Side cornucopia of fun has something for everyone. The facilities include state-of-the-art classrooms, baby and full-size gyms, a rooftop playground, and preschool enrichment classes that span gymnastics, cooking, music and art. 510 E 74th St between York Ave and FDR Dr (212-737-2989, 74magic.com). Fall session begins Sept 9. Fourteen to fifteen classes $525 and up, single class $50–$60. Ages 6 months and up.

Staten Island JCC
No matter what your child's skill level and interests are, this center is bound to have just the right class for her. Offerings span from painting and origami to magic and Lego-building classes. 1466 Manor Rd between Brielle and Rockland Aves, Staten Island (718-475-5231, sijcc.org). Fall session begins in September. Prices vary; see website for details. Ages 4 to 14.

Vanderbilt YMCA
The midtown Y uses a theme-based approach to learning—in each eight-week session kids focus on a specific topic, such as basketball, tennis or Chinese. Fitness Fusion, a noncompetitive class that gets kids active, and ZumbAtomic, a kids-focused Zumba program, are only two of the stand-out classes for children ages five and up. Preschoolers and toddlers have just as many selections, with options like Singing Stories, Sunshine Art and Preschool Spanish. 224 E 47th St between Second and Third Aves (212-912-2500, ymcanyc.org/vanderbilt). Fall sessions begin Sept 3 and Oct 28. Eight classes $100–$330, after-school program (two days of class per week) $240 and up per month. Ages 6 months to 12 years.

West Side YMCA
True to the Y's reputation, school-age children will stay entertained with a range of classes in fitness (martial arts, t-ball, swimming), language (Spanish) and art (clayworks). Little kids (ages five and under) get in on the action with programs such as Music and Movement, a gym class for children one to four years old, the Imagination Theater performing-arts class, and Recipe for Fun, a culinary course for four- and five-year-olds. 5 W 63rd St between Central Park West and Broadway (212-912-2600, ymcanyc.org/westside). Fall sessions begins Sept 3 and Oct 28. Eight classes $189–$600. Ages 6 months to 12 years.

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