With so many awesome programs and activities to explore, how can city kids be expected to choose just one? For youngsters who haven't quite figured out what they like to do most, general interest classes for kids are the way to go. Citywide YMCAs, kids' fitness centers in NYC and more institutions offer a wide range of pursuits for kids with interests that range from foreign languages to performing arts to cooking, ensuring that they never have to stick to one discipline.
General interest classes for kids
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, plus monthly family events like a Chinese New Year celebration in February and a Spring Fest in March. Ages 6 months to 12 years.
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. Teens can learn the ins-and-outs of journalism through an intensive program where they'll work on Y-Teen Magazine. Ages 6 months to 15 years.
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 variety of teen leadership programs, including Teens Take the City—a community service and government education program where kids learn about policy development and social responsibility. Y members and non-members can also take advantage of a number of programs, such as catch-and-throw class and a dance class, for free! All ages.
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 Pee Wee Tennis (ages 4–5 years, 11 mos.) fencing (ages 6–10), Minecraft Engineering and Video Games Design (ages 7 to 12) and a fashion studio series for older kids and tweens (ages 8–14). 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. Ages 1 to 12.
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 Zumba Jr. classes are perfect for kids with energy to burn, while glee club and LIC Kids on Broadway appeal to creative types. Music, movement and gymnastics classes round out the list of offerings. Ages 6 months to 12 years.
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). Modern dance and science (Little Makers) comprise a few of the toddler and preschool offerings, while big kids can develip their skills in a variety of subject, like karate, tumbling and basketball. Ages 1 to 18.
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 dances genres like ballet, hip-hop, tap, jazz and modern dance, or even tackle subjects like robotics. There's plenty to keep athletic kids busy too, with every sport from basketball to tennis to yoga, fencing and jump rope. Ages 6 weeks and up.
Kids of all ages can find fitness, sports, arts, music and dance classes at the Brooklyn Y, ranging from Story, Song & Shimmy for infants and family art for toddlers, to break dancing, sustainable art, basketball and karate classes for older kids (ages 4 and up). Ages 1 to 14.
Queens kids can sample Zumba Jr., basketball, soccer and karate, as well as dance, crafts, guitar and violin. Parents of children under four years old choose from programs such as Art & Play, an art class for preschoolers, and Bitty Basketball, which develops agility and social skills while teaching young kids about the sport. Ages 6 months and up.
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. Ages 6 months and up.
The midtown Y uses a theme-based approach to learning—in each eight week session kids focus on a specific topic, such as art, Chinese or drums/percussion. Kids Be Fit, a noncompetitive class that gets kids active, and fenching are just two of the stand-out offerings. Preschoolers and toddlers have just as many selections, with options like Bilingual Birdies and Sunshine Art. What's more, there are monthly family workshops and outings a-plenty. Ages 6 months to 12 years.
True to the Y's reputation, school-age children will stay entertained with a range of classes in fitness (karate, tennis, swimming), dance (ballet, jazz-tap, modern), 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 ages 1–3, and the Imagination Theater performing-arts class for kids ages 3–5. Kids ages 8–14 with a theatrical bent can take advantage of the theater arts program too, and join the cast of the upcoming production, Shrek the Musical, Jr. Ages 6 months to 12 years.