Best after school programs in NYC
At this Upper East Side institution, your musician can learn how to play an instrument—violin, guitar, cello, percussion—or music production. After-school classes ($500/semester) examine different musical pieces and encourage collaboration in a group setting. At the end of the program, mini Mozarts can impress their family and friends at open-house recitals. Although participants need to provide their own instruments for the duration of the course, the 92Y offers finanical aid and rental recommendations. Plus, when they’re not jamming, kids can take advantage of homework help and R & R in the Clubhouse, where they are divvied up by grade level. Ages 5–15.
After a day of navigating the academic obstacle course at school, your favorite achievers—whether beginner, intermediate or advanced—can reach new heights on a rock-climbing wall. The Cliffs’ once-weekly offerings ($525–$565/eight sessions) allow developing bodies to build muscle strength and agility. For example, introductory sessions teach climbers how to tie safety knots and belay (that is, controlling the rope while they’re suspended in midair) as well as other basics, mastering them with hands-on games and activities. More experienced teens can try lead climbing and other advanced techniques. The Cliffs at LIC, Long Island City (lic.thecliffsclimbing.com). Ages 6–18.
Court 16 invites your tennis stars to participate in a range of pursuits that will prep them for the U.S. Open in no time! Seasoned pros teach group lessons ($32–$52), private instruction ($78–$114) and semiprivate drills ($78–$98). Move over, Roger Federer—you’re going to have some competition! Note: Children must be members in order to participate in the lessons. Court 16, Boerum Hill, Long Island City (court16.com). All ages.
Asphalt Green offers plenty of sports-related after-school classes for kids (and caters to a variety of age groups). You'll find opportunities for both youth classes and ongoing youth programs throughout the year with concentrations in soccer, baseball, tennis, flag football and more great stuff (various prices). Locations in Battery Park City and on the Upper East Side. Ages 3–13.
In the Brooklyn Boulders Kids Academy, young participants receive basic coaching as they learn to climb, and a 1:5 teacher ratio makes sure everyone gets personalized instruction. Kids will learn how to safely use equipment and scale Brooklyn Boulders' climbing walls, as well as enjoy activities on the ground too! A 10-pack of classes is $475. Ages 5 and up.
Fun at the Chelsea Piers Field House has no limits, and its after-school programs (various prices) let kids take advantage of the amazing facility. Your tykes can sign up for one or more of the many semester-long classes, including rock climbing for the adventurous, dance for the dramaticand soccer and basketball for the team-oriented. On days when the kids aren’t inside the classroom, they can take part in table games, art projects and computer activities. Chelsea Piers, Chelsea (chelseapiers.com). All ages.
Your kids are likely to be hunched and antsy after sitting at a desk all day. Help them spring into action with flips, jumps and balancing challenges! Expert coaches teach the fundamentals of Olympic events for both women (vault, uneven bars, balance beam and floor) and men (floor, pommel horse, rings, vault, parallel bars and high bar). As the children grow stronger and more flexible, they’ll also gain confidence—not to mention a few acrobatic skills they’ll love to put into use on the playground. Class packages start at $504. Ages 4.5–12.
Soar like Peter Pan with this one- of-a-kind trapeze program made for children and tweens. Trained instructors evaluate each student at the start of the session and teach children based on their individual abilities, strengths and weaknesses; even beginners can quickly become graceful circus folk under the instructors’ tutelage. Kids who can’t get enough of heights and tricks can also sign up for the trampoline class or get their ya-yas out with parkour. STREB, Williamsburg (streb.org). All ages.
Let your future World Cup players loose at this stellar organization’s soccer classes, which are offered at about 100 locations in the area. The goal is to inspire self-confidence and teamwork in a fun environment—no competition required. Children will focus on key skills such as dribbling, passing and defending while learning how to play as part of a team. Class packages start at $325 and up. Ages 1 and up.
Though the trees may still have their green leaves, this large rink maintains its year-round frosty temperatures for ice-skating fun. Aspiring figure skaters, hockey players and beginners can all learn the basics of edge work, stroking and turns. Courses are offered every day of the week for a variety of interests and skill levels, and public and freestyle sessions are available for little Mirai Nagasus who want to spend some afternoons shredding the ice without instruction. Ages 4 and up.
Master tree pose, cobra and downward dog at these cool kids' classes! These are perfect for restless elementary and middle schoolers who have extra energy to burn after class. There are also plenty of offerings for the younger set (toddlers) as well as family yoga on weekends. With several locations around the city, you're sure to find one that suits you. Ages 3–10.
When school is out, it's the perfect time for moppets to harness their bouncing-off-the-walls energy! This program (roughly $55/class) gets kids on the court so they can develop their b-ball skills amid fair play and friendly competition. The classes stay small and impart lots of support: Each group consists of about 15 kids and two or three coaches. Beginners will benefit from the introductory classes, while serious ballers can receive advanced training. Grades K and up.
Once youngsters taste-test the Dynamite Shop’s delicious dishes, they’ll come back hungry for more. The culinary school offers a glimpse into the inner workings of a real kitchen— but kids and teens are the chefs here! Founders and food writers Dana Bowen and Sara Kate Gillingham have devised the Make & Take program, in which young cooks prep dinner for their families each night. Bon appétit! (Prices TBD). Ages 8–13.
Since young brains are particularly adept at learning languages, Lango Kids is the place to go: Weekly lessons ($28/class) in Spanish and Mandarin cover grammar, vocabulary and phrases, ultimately leading to simple conversations. What’s more, the teachers—who are all native speakers—incorporate fun movement exercises and creative projects to reinforce the intellectual stuff. Lango Kids, Boerum Hill (langokidsnyc.com). Ages 4–6.
In November 2018, two of the borough’s largest social-services centers, the Sam Field Y and the Central Queens Y, created Commonpoint Queens—and it’s an after-school bonanza (various prices). At the Sam Field Center, young scholars work on their homework until 4pm, then spend an hour in a preselected club (think sports, books, dance and architecture); at 5pm, they move on to another activity. Students can also join a club at Central Queens’ semester-long Kids Korner, which offfers swimming, guitar, chess, dance and more. Sam Field Center, Flushing Central Queens, Forest Hills (commonpointqueens.org) Grades K–8.
Youngsters can explore their creativity and passions in a wide array of once-a-week classes, such as Comics and Illustrated Stories or Animation and Set Design. In the Investigating Artists course, students encounter the techniques and styles of famous artists, then attempt to re-create their work with a personal spin. CMA’s teaching artists help each class to master traditional methods and each kid to develop a unique voice. $500/semester; school, 6pm pickup $150 each. Ages 5–15.
This small Staten Island studio has tons of child-centric drawing and painting classes in a variety of styles and mediums. Kids Comic Art introduces future illustrators to cartooning and animation. At the end, your teen will have a portfolio of creative portraits and still lifes that can be used in college applications. $190–$260/four sessions. Ages 3 and up.
DreamYard has free classes at more than 40 Bronx schools, including at its 1085 Washington Ave headquarters. Every week has courses on the digital arts, fashion, dance and music production, to name a few. All subjects are taught through a social-justice lens, meaning participants can explore their identities, vital social issues and how art can change the world. Ages 6–14.
This craft destination welcomes young learners to experiment with new art forms at its two locations, both of which offer similar eight-week workshop cycles. On a typical day, budding artists will have time for homework and a provided snack before 4pm, when classes begin. Supported by professional artisans, students can try their hand at weaving on a loom, printmaking and fabric dyeing, mixed-media techniques, fashion design (with instruction in sewing), and building soft-sculpture creations (stuffies!), which can be sewn by hand or on a machine. Ages 5–11.
Bring on the movie magic! Here, kids get to go behind the scenes and get in on the action. They’ll get to touch/work with professional movie-making equipment and collaborate with their groups (led by two instructors for every 12 kids) to make their very own 5–10-minute movie ($700). Grades 4–8.
If you’re after the language de l’amour, look no further than FIAF—a full-immersion school that ties its exploration of the language to French art and culture. The venue's kids and teens after-school programming includes general French courses, private lessons and themed French courses (like the Arts & Crafts Club) as well as Fall Day Camp for the youngest age group. Ages 1–17.
At this creative studio, artists of all ages get to try their hand at exciting projects. Offerings include Art Around the World, where those ages 3–5 get a taste of other cultures and tackle projects like Brazilian Carnivale masks, Toddler Art Adventures where little ones are familiarized with crayons, oil pastels, collage materials and more and drop-in studios where littles can let the creative juices run wild. Prices vary according to program. Ages 1.5 and up.
During Artshack’s after-school program Design Lab, tweens and teens can home in on a project of their own choosing—ceramics, printmaking, bookbinding, watercolors and other mediums— and experts with a serious aesthetic flair will help them to finish an awesome product. Artshack Brooklyn, Bed-Stuy (artshackbrooklyn.org). Ages 10-14.
Artist, toy designer and former School of Visual Arts instructor Karen Merbaum’s Creative Cats program teaches students (ages 4–6) about mosaics, clay, sculpture and printmaking, to name a few mediums. In Art Explorers I, older kids (ages 7–12) begin each class with a drawing lesson, then immerse themselves in weekly visual-arts projects. $272/8 classes, $352/11 classes, $35/ drop-in. Ages 4 and up.
Young people who want develop serious artistic abilities will find their heaven at Bronx River Art Center, which offers 10-week courses on painting, drawing, ceramics, digital photography and printmaking—all taught by seasoned artists. In this class (free, but only 15 spots are available), pros give teens a behind-the-scenes peek at what it’s like to have a career in the visual arts and design industries. In December and June, the students’ work is showcased for all to see in the center’s gallery. Teen Project Studio Program is free but requires an application for admission. Ages 9–18.
There are a wide variety of offerings at this Tribeca studio, including a popular boys' hip-hop program (there’s a Street Hip Hop class that includes girls too!) that's drawn plenty of young men in the few years since it launched. From ballet and tap to jazz and lyrical, range from Tututots for teeny ballerinas to invitation-only technique sessions for experienced students, this spot has something for anyone you likes to boogie. Ages 2 and up.
Child’s Play NY tackles everything a performing arts program should. It invites students to immerse themselves in fantasy scenarios as they sing, dance, act and make use of props while bringing their characters to life on the stage. Kids are welcome to explore the venue’s opportunities—which are grouped according to age brackets—including “Imagine That,” a course where those ages 2–3 put wonky characters into unusual situations (think a wild animal on line at the grocery store in NYC) and “Teen Theater,” where students ages 12–16 take on Greek myths and recreate popular Shakespearean histories. In certain courses, young performers will be putting on their own shows, so moms and dads will catch a glimpse of what their kiddos have been rehearsing. Ages 2–16.
Students of all ages are enriched through dance thanks to Mark Morris. Classes, which are held in Brooklyn’s Cultural District, run the gamut from jazz and hip-hop to world dance and ballet—any genre that might be of interest to your children. Moms and dads with teeny dancers (18 months and older) are invited to parent-child courses throughout the year. The venue also caters programs toward children with special needs. Plus there’s good news for those looking to take in a show: There are opportunities to watch your kids perform at the end of the programs. Ages 18 months–18 years.
Children and teens enrolled in Take Two Film Academy’s classes will bring their creative ideas to life with the help of seasoned filmmaking professionals. In the fall program, 8- to 16-year-old students can collaborate on their own YouTube channel, created just for kids. Students learn camerawork, software editing and sound design as well as helpful tips for creating online videos. Tiny directors (5–7) will have the chance to explore exciting animation styles, such as stop-motion, pixilation and rotoscoping. All courses conclude with the kids’ creations being uploaded online and a celebratory screening party. Ages 5–16.
If you’ve got an aspiring entertainer on your hands, the occasional school play probably isn’t enough of an outlet for his or her creative energy. Kids who dream of going into the performing arts will dig the immersive courses at Applause New York, which cover topics such as dance, musical theater, on-camera acting and more. Students can work on individual skills or collaborate as a team to create dance numbers, musical productions, complex characters and original films. If you're feeling inspired by your child's appreciation for the arts, sign up for a class—the venue also offers adult courses. Think of all of the creativity destined for your household! Ages 1 and up.
Kids of all skill levels are welcome to put on their dancing shoes and join in at this studio. Beginners learn dancing basics like coordination and rhythm in the Young Dancers Program (ages 2–5) to prepare for ballet and tap classes, while kids in the Technique Program (ages 6–18) develop form and try other genres like jazz, theater dance, hip-hop and modern as well. Pilates and dance history are also in the mix, and serious dancers may even ascend to the Pre-Professional Program (ages 7–18). Rehearsals are fun, yet focused, with a required dress code for most classes, but the dancers’ dedication pays off—past students have gone on to perform in prestigious shows, including Broadway’s Hamilton. Ages 18 months–18.
Kiddos receieve expert instruction in dance and theater at BAX’s studios, all while absorbing important lessons about creativity, forming an identity and even social justice. Students learn about form and rhythm in focused dance classes organized by age, delving into the techniques of modern dance, ballet and hip-hop. Aspiring actors work on their vocals, explore improvisation and hone more theater skills in drama classes. Exercises, storytelling and creative games build confidence and an understanding of the art before the term culminates with a showcase of the students’ original works in the BAX Theater. Ages 1–18.
If you’ve ever balked at the high cost of childcare or after-school activities, you won’t believe that this structured, all-inclusive program is completely free for Bronx kids. After the school day, local students head to the center after class and dive in to a variety of subjects such as arts, tech, engineering and even college help for those entering the SAT and application process. Ages 5–15.
If you have some funny kiddos on your hands, it's time to let them explore the possibilities of their humor (without younger siblings being the expense of the joke). Guided by professionals at Kids 'N Comedy, youngsters build on their chops by studying their favorite comics for some inspiration, writing and workshopping material they create before ultimately testing it out on their peers. Get ready for lots of laughs! Ages 10 and up.
Find the leotard and start lacing those ballet shoes. Several levels of ballet (including parent-child classes) allow young twinkle toes to build their skills from the ground up. But that's not the only offering at the Long Island City School of Ballet. Atypical options include SportsDance for Boys, a program that uses athletic movements to teach the fundamentals, and Imagine Dance, where a different story serves as inspiration for the routines in each class. Classic offerings such as hip-hop, tap and jazz are also on the menu, should your dance machine want to check out a variety of genres. Ages 2 and up.
Leveling up in Donkey Kong or building a house in The Sims used to be an impressive feat, but with sophisticated coding software, young gamers and designers are capable of so much more. Kids can learn coding basics, design 3D video games, make custom mods in Minecraft, create original animations, build apps and more in focused CodeAdvantage classes. Parents will certainly pick up a thing or two by following along with their child’s projects. Ages 6–13.
These days, kids aren’t just impressing their parents by mastering high-tech toys with little instruction, they’re building their own playthings—working parts and all! This electronics and robotics shop in Brooklyn invites kids to learn and create together. Courses cover everything from basic engineering (circuitry, mechanics) to digital programming and 3D design. Be sure to check out all of the offerings in both Brooklyn locales! Ages 5–14.
If your kiddos love science, it’s time to ready the test beakers and grab those lab coats. Carmelo’s after-school program offers options for three age groups (pre–k, kindergarten–second grade and third–fifth grade) to explores cool concepts within the science field. Tap into the world of engineering—think bridges and skyscrapers—with the fall 2018 theme, “Cosmic Construction.” Kids will fall in love with science and rise to the top of their class after they learn the ropes from this expert science whiz. Ages 3 and up.
Technically inclined kids dabble in robotics, video-game design and stop-motion animation with this venue's exciting offerings. Over the course of a session, students may construct robotic projects using motors, pulleys and gears, or script and direct their own short films. On the last day of class, students show off their creations to friends and family. Ages 3 and up.
This hub of science and exploration hosts hour-and-a-half classes and hands-on workshops that encourage a range of STEM learning. In the fall, the Brooklyn Rangers course takes kids outdoors to help them become environmental experts, identifying plants and leaves, tracking animals, and finding out what owls eat for breakfast, among other critical questions. The Super Sleuths class turns moppets into detectives by teaching them about forensic evidence and secret-message encryption. The organization offers after-school pickups from some local schools. Ages 5–12.
If your kids need math help (and fast) or are just in need of a new academic challenge, the after-school Edison Club at Zaniac is a great pick. Pint-size participants are evaluated so instructors know how best to address children’s strengths and weaknesses, and parents are given daily progress reports to keep track of how their youngsters are performing. Teachers also make sure students complete their homework and help them puzzle through difficult assignments using fun methods for explaining various concepts—an added bonus if your kids are tackling subjects they’re unfamiliar with. Ages 5–14.
If the LEGO movies have taught us anything, it’s that those tiny bricks can be used to make anything you could possibly imagine. Bricks for Kidz lets you put that creativity to good use. At the venue, sprouts have the opportunity to become master builders by taking on a new project each week, constructing models that are unlike anything in toy stores. Other offerings include Video Game Design and Coding and Scouts programs that help youngsters earn their badges (a win-win for Brownies and Boy Scouts). Ages 5 and up.
Here’s proof that STEM can be fun! Your little Einsteins can drop by one of Pixel Academy’s two locations for daily “makerspace” activities (3-D printing, for instance). You can also sign up for one of Pixel’s six-week series, like “Virtual-Reality Coding,” to build development and design expertise. Sessions include homework help and snacks, as well as optional pickup from eight schools in Brooklyn and four schools in Manhattan. Ages 7–12.
KoKo NYC is all about the intersection of science and the arts. This fall, founder and local artist Monika Wührer will teach the Simple Machine Lab (ages 7–9) and the Extraordinary Machine Lab (ages 10–13). Both courses explore simple machines (there are six: inclined plane, wedge, lever, wheel-andaxle, screw-and-pulley) and the creative power of invention, encouraging kids to tinker, experiment and repurpose found materials. Pickup from local Brooklyn schools is available for an additional cost. Ages 7–13.
Trained scientists, engineers, designers and other industry experts indulge students’ curious questions like “How would a superhero’s heart be different from a normal human’s heart?” or “Can 3-D printers be used to help save the environment?” in various SciTech Kids classes. This fall’s offerings include “SciTech” explorers for those ages 3–5 where students can discover natural phenomena and “SciTech Investigators” for students ages 9–12 who are curious what is going on within the field. Ages 3–15.
This well-established Park Slope nursery school has experienced staffers to keep kids busy after school with activities like photography, cooking, pottery and soccer in their indoor/outdoor facility. The pluses are many: they’ve got a full sized gym, they provide homework help and keep healthy snacks around to fill kid-bellies. Two-, three-, four- and five-day options are available, so you can customize the program to fit your schedule and needs. What’s more, they pick-up from ten area schools. Various classroom locations. Grades pre-K through 4.
This Kings County institution provides Brooklyn sprouts with the opportunity to learn firsthand from museum educators. The free daily program focuses mostly on arts and culture through experiments, demonstrations and lessons inspired by the museum’s extensive collection of 30,000 objects. The program takes place at P.S. 189, but only 80 slots are open on a lottery basis, so don’t forget to download the application from the organization’s website in August. Ages 5–11.
Enjoy a traditional after-school program experience at the JCC, complete with creative play, homework help and tasty snacks to chow down on. Kids looking for extra activities can also sign up for special course options (at an additional fee), which include tae kwon do and gymnastics for energetic kids, ballet and hip-hop for dancers and even a variety of coding classes that use Kodu Arcade and Minecraft. Minimermaids can swim year-round in the indoor pool during sessions dedicated to teaching appropriate strokes and techniques to all levels of swimmers. Counselors transport kids from school to the JCC and within the building between classes. Ages 4–11.
The reliable NYC Parks program provides great options to keep kids engaged and entertained during the afternoon hours. You can trust that your brood’s brains and bodies will stay stimulated through a wide range of academic-enrichment and teambuilding activities. The staff leads little ones through arts and cultural programming, sports and fitness fun and special events. Yes, healthy snacks are served! (Each borough separately manages its own program, so check the website for details and registration information.) Ages 6–13.
Many learning facilities throughout the city allow kids to look but not touch, but this expansive cultural center and botanical garden encourages youngsters to interact with their surroundings for the full experience. Grow to Eat classes at the onsite Heritage Farm let kids discover where food comes through planting, examining and preparing seasonal produce. Explore the botanical garden grounds by getting crafty in Autumn Leaves sessions or taking an ecological tour in the science-focused Wetlands Creatures program. Ages 5–10.
Help future chefs and tastemakers perfect new skills, from proper food preparation and kitchen safety to cooking and baking techniques and plating presentation. Some people use the program as a drop-in class, while members take the classes weekly and can track their growth as amateur cooks with monthly knowledge assessments, all while working toward a diploma and a MasterChef jacket. The academy may be just what you need for a picky little eater; some studies have shown that they’re more likely to try meals they prepared themselves. Bon appétit! Ages 4–18.
Little ones at this classic after-school program are divvied up into age-grouped “clubhouses” so they can meet new friends and get to know their counselors. Games, homework help and snacks are included! For an additional cost, the program proffers enrichment classes that give tots the chance to pursue interests such as cartooning, gymnastics, dancing and swimming. The 92nd Street Y offers pickup from about a dozen schools (or a discount for parents who provide their own transportation). Ages 5–12.
The historic school focuses on the overall improvement of education for children and targets a variety of creative and intellectual pursuits to encourage discovery and growth. That means your kindergartner’s afternoon hours will be filled with activities like yoga and mindfulness, tap-dancing lessons, immersive sign language and many other cultural, fitness and creative courses. For less-structured play, two drop-in groups support kids’ after-school learning with outdoor fun, storytelling time and arts and crafts.
Animal lovin’ kids get hands-on time with guinea pigs, turtles, bunnies and bearded dragons while learning science skills like observation, classification and communication. Babes (and caregivers) also hang out with a variety of creatures in Rocks, Smocks & Animals, a mommy-and-me class that combines animal visits with music, storytime and art. If your kid’s more the culinary kind, consider the Farm Foodies Cooking Class, where kids learn the importance of cooking with fresh ingredients. Need a fun and flexible option? The Afternoon Kids Club can cover you for a couple of hours. Ages 14 months to 8 years.