'Tis the season of pop quizzes, science projects and soccer games! Make sure to peruse the city's best after-school programs to keep your little one engaged after the bell rings.
Unsurprisingly, there's something for all interests this school season: art classes for kids, kids' cooking classes, kids' gymnastic classes and everything in between. Parents can even expect avant-garde picks like circus classes and rock band groups.
RECOMMENDED: Full guide to get your kids back to school in NYC
There's a lot to look forward to with the arrival of the new term on Sept 5, 2019 (have a look at the NYC School Calendar). Make sure your kids are ready for new adventures with these super-cool offerings!
Best after school programs in NYC
Let your kids fall in love with books thanks to this engaging tutoring program. Reading in PreSchool tutors kickstart the literary fun a bit early, helping little ones learn how to read before entering first grade, thanks to a phonics-based and play-based method. Various locations (readinginpreschool.com). Ages 3 and up.
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.
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.
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 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.
First stop: Treasure Trunk Theatre. Next stop: Broadway. These playful youth programs ($25/class and up) are great for harnessing kids' creative energy. Youngsters can shake off stage fright in classes like Imagination Adventure, Story Drama or Musical Adventure. For more in-depth instruction, try Put on a Play or Musical Treasures where kids learn choreographed dance numbers and perform scripted mini-plays for friends and family. Ages 6 mos and up.
The School at Dancewave offers classes throughout the year, with a semester beginning each season. The programs cover a wide range of techniques and genres, including Creative Movement, Boys Dance, Creative Ballet, Hip Hop, Ballet, Creative Modern, Broadway Stars, Contemporary Jazz and the newly introduced Little Waves for youngsters with special needs. The school also offers summer camps, intensive and special drop-in classes for teens and adults. Ages 2–18.
With a wide range of music, dance and theater classes for kids and teens, Kaufman Music Center provides students an opportunity to hone their craft, no matter what they choose to master. Kids can learn moves in hip-hop or ballet, take a theater class, study music theory or even bone up on audition techniques. Advanced musicians from sixth to twelfth grade have the opportunity get serious in the Young Artist Program, which combines private lessons, ensemble coaching and music theory training. Ages 2 and up.
Professional teaching artists lead musical theater workshops for little ones at Broadway Bound Kids, so you know your brood is in the best care possible. Children of all ages can join classes such as Ham-sical, a Hamilton-inspired program that promises to be as exciting as the hit musical itself (a loophole if you're unable to snag tickets to the popular show). Those in fourth grade to eighth grade have the opportunity to join a free youth ensemble, while high school students can work on their acting techniques, voice and movement thanks to a variety of workshops. Ages 5–18.
Founded in 1984, TADA! counts accomplished actors like Kerry Washington and Ricki Lake as former students. Using Broadway and Off-Broadway shows as its inspiration, the school ($360–$540/upcoming semester) conducts onsite and off-site courses focusing on musical theater. Audition and workshop intensives are available for students looking to perfect a particular skill, such as performing scenes "cold" and enchancing a character. Ages 4–12.
Give your little performers a new stage at this artsy after-school option. Tykes will gain access to new or familiar instruments, such as piano, guitar, violin and African drums, and they will have the opportunity to join an orchestra or rock-band ensemble. Growing thespians will love the musical theater, drama and dance offerings (various prices). Ages 5–11.
When all is said and done, you're guaranteed to have a rock star on the rise. Brooklyn Music Factory offers an atypical method to music lessons, and your kiddos are going to love every second of it. The venue's program teaches the fundamentals through a game-based approach, so there's a lot to love about classes the jam-worthy offerings that focus on songwriting, keyboard and more. Ages 1 and up.
Housed in a five-story Victorian Gothic mansion, the comprehensive curriculum at this music school—founded in 1897—caters to all ages and interests. Options include bluegrass, music theory, musical theater and more. Ages 1 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. Grades 1 and up.
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 (various prices) 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 3–14.
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 field, including biology, oceanography and more. 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 the LEGO movies have taught us anything, it’s that those tiny bricks can be used to make anything you could possibly imagine. Bricks 4 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 locations for “makerspace” activities (3-D printing, for instance). You can also sign them up for one of Pixel’s longer series , like “Video Production and YouTube” to build development and design expertise. Sessions include homework help and snacks, as well as optional pickup from various schools in Brooklyn and Manhattan. After-school costs start at $600. Ages 7–14.
KoKo NYC is all about the intersection of science and the arts. This fall, founder and local artist Monika Wührer will teach the Simple Machines Lab (ages 7–9, $690) and the Extraordinary Machine Lab (ages 10–13, $690). 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.
Brooklyn Game Lab’s after-school programs engage gamers of all interests by offering a choice of four different labs. Participants will learn the methods and mechanics of modern board and card games—no video games! Kids can also try their hand at recently released innovative games like Photosynthesis and Hive. For the adventurous, Quest Lab (ages 9 and up) combines roleplaying games and live-action role play. Note that the venue has several different locations. Ages 6–14.
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.
In this interdisciplinary program at P.S. 189, educators teach
your curious scholars about the arts, culture and STEM subjects using the museum’s 30,000-plus objects. Enrollment operates on a lottery system. Ages 5–11.
YMCA South Shore visits various schools to deliver a well-rounded program that emphasizes academics, a healthy lifestyle, and literacy- and project-based learning— in other words, the works! Physical activities, based on the Coordinated Approach to Child Health (CATCH) curriculum, include tag and games that build skills and team spirit. STEM and arts projects (think dancing and painting), homework help, and social and emotional learning are also on offer. YMCA of Staten Island, various locations (ymcanyc.org). Ages 5–11.
At the newly renovated Edible Academy, the Dig! Plant! Grow! program’s themes change with the seasons. In Pollinator Pals (until Sept 8), your special urban farmer studies how insects interact with the life cycles of flowers. The Three Sisters course (Sept 10–Oct 11) investigates the close relationship between corn, beans and squash; for example, kids grind corn and make corn-husk dolls while learning about the crop’s role in Lenape history. In the Goodnight Garden class (Oct 15–Nov 3), little botanists find out how to prepare the academy’s green space for winter. Admission ages 2–12 $12, 13 and up $25. Ages 2 and up.
Send your tyke off to college much earlier than expected: Wagner proffers kid-friendly classes in the fine arts, the sciences and technology, among other subjects, on its beautiful, 100-year-old campus. Ambitious students can develop skills in coding, computer programming, the digital arts, filmmaking, ceramics, robotics, architecture and other areas. As a bonus, the knowledgeable educators aim to help their charges consider what careers they would like pursue. Wagner College, Grymes Hill (wagner.edu). Ages 6–16.
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.
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.
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 attendees 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 mos—8 years.
City kids get the rare opportunity to learn in an outdoor classroom through this early-childhood program. Tots as young as 1 ½ will develop their motor and sensory skills, as well as self-esteem and focus via hands-on, group activities in many of Brooklyn green spaces, including Prospect Park, Marine Park, Owls Head Park and Shore Road Park. The natural environment plays a role in each lesson, whether inspiring discussion about the seasons or providing natural materials to use in crafts and “outdoor kitchen” cooking activities. Parents will need to pack a healthy snack and water, and make sure the kids are suited up in weather-appropriate gear for class. Ages 18 months–8 years.
Need something to occupy a hungry kid? From week-long to single days sessions, Taste Buds Kitchen offers a tasty education options for youngsters. For child chefs ages 2–6 and 6–8, weekend morning baking and cooking workshops teach little ones to craft recipes from scratch. Ages 2 and up.