'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.
Let your kids sharpen their acting chops through theater games, improv, singalongs and storytelling at Atlantic Acting School. Little ones (ages 4–5) in the Performers class will bring a classic story to life through role playing and get their feet wet with the performing arts. Older kids (ages 9–11) with a few more years of experience can join Performance & Playwriting, a more intensive program in which they will write, direct and star in an original works. Whether your kids or teens are looking to hone in on musicals, comedy or even improv, Atlantic Acting School is a wonderful outlet for a variety of opportunities that will let their creativity run wild. Ages 4–18.
New in 2019: If you have an SNL castmate in the making, let your funny stand-up test out their comedic chops in this comprehensive workshop. In the writers’ room, kids will get the giggles as they devise an original, hilarious sketch. After practicing their monologues and short performances, they’ll put on a show for their family and friends. Looks like Kate McKinnon and Beck Bennett will have to make some room on the stage. Wed at 4pm; $560. Sept 18–Dec 18. Ages 9–11.
Owned by actor Mimi Stuart (who has spent her career in the theater), the Children’s Acting Academy offers original programs in which drama kings and queens can flex their improv muscles, practice monologues and fine-tune their speech and diction. Professional actors give students a taste of what it takes to make it: For example, Creative Drama focuses on mime, improvization and other theatrical mediums, and Acting sharpens skills pertaining to interviews, monologues and TV commercials. The fall trimester ($55/class) comprises 10 to 12 courses, the last of which is a showcase in which kids can show off their dramatic chops. Children's Acting Academy, Upper West Side (childrensactingacademy.com). Ages 4–14.
With weekly courses geared toward tots and teens, Brooklyn Acting Lab aims to hone kids’ talent through training that prioritizes collaboration and ensemble- based playmaking. In the Storybook Theatre program, kindergartners engage in games and improv exercises based on that week’s picture book. The classes focus on language and movement in classical, contemporary, physical and experimental theater; then, participants perform their favorite scenes. Also on offer are Musical Theater Ensembles, Improv and Acting on Camera, and the new Magical Musicals. Pickup is available. Storybook Theatre (Sept 20–Dec 20): Fri 3:30–4:15pm; $390. Teen Acting Lab (Sept 16–Dec 16) Mon 6:30–8:30pm; $420. Ages 3–18.
In creative space Okabaloo’s recreational program FunArtFaktory, professional artists and counselors get your kids immersed in the visual arts, the performing arts, music, musical theater, creative movement, STEM exercises and Spanish, to name just a few ($445 per month). Okabaloo, Astoria (okabaloo.com). Ages 6–11.
Instrumentalists who want to get into the groove can get one-on- one lessons at this family-owned and -operated shop that boasts a roster of musicians who have worked with bands and performers you may know, including Ingrid Michaelson and members of Guns N’ Roses. Kids can have their pick of woodwinds, piano, guitar, brass, drums and other instruments. Both half-hour and hour sessions are available. Castellano House of Music, Eltingville (castellanoshouseofmusic.com). Ages 7 and up.
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 ($385/semester and up). 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 the Middle School Ensemble, where students 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.
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. If you're feeling inspired, 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 First Steps program (ages 2–5) while older kids (ages 6–18) can try other genres like jazz, theater dance, hip-hop and modern. 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 years.
Kids who love asking “why?” will get plenty of answers with the hands-
on science experiments at this wonderful after-school program. Topics such as biology, paleontology and astronomy are covered in age-appropriate groups: Preschoolers and kindergarteners learn the basics about animals, dinosaurs and the planets, while big kids delve into dissecting owl pellets, the structure of Earth and even DNA. One class is available per week for each age group, and pickup is available from several schools. Ages 4–9.
Group gaming is a brilliant way to build social skills and develop good sportsmanship. This Carroll Gardens space rotates games throughout the semester to keep kids engaged and learning. Each class dedicates two weeks to a single game before moving on to a new one, and the titles cover a variety of styles, including classics like chess, role-playing games like Dungeons & Dragons and board games like Settlers of Catan. The first half hour of the program is dedicated to homework, socializing or warm-up rounds. Ages 5–12.
Mathematics may get a bad rap in a typical school curriculum, but MoMath approaches the subject in a fresh, exciting way for gifted students. Through weekly sessions that are broken down by experience level, the Expansions program covers the discipline’s weird and wonderful topics—cellular automata, anyone? (Parents must fill out an application for their child to be considered.) Grades 1–12.
Home to the largest and arguably most fabulous collection of dinosaur fossils in the world, AMNH’s fourth-floor dino halls have been blowing kids' minds for decades. Roughly 80 percent of the bones on display were actually dug out of the ground; the rest are casts. The thrills begin when you cross the threshold of the Theodore Roosevelt Rotunda, where you’re confronted with a towering barosaurus rearing up on its hind legs to protect its young from an attacking allosaurus—an impressive welcome to the world’s largest museum of its kind. During the museum’s mid-1990s renovation, several specimens were remodeled to incorporate new discoveries. The Tyrannosaurus rex, for instance, was once believed to have walked upright, Godzilla-style; it now stalks prey with its head lowered and tail raised parallel to the ground. These days, one of the museum's most mind-bending attractions is the Titanosaur, now officially given the name Patagotitan mayorum. The beast is about 122 feet long and stretches through two separate rooms—that's how huge it is! The herbivore would have weighed in at around 70 tons. Don't miss out on other great opportunities to see artifacts, models and casts from centuries past, including The Hall of Human Origins (you'll see our super old cousins, the Neanderthals) and the Hall of Ocean Life, which boasts the museum's iconic 100-foot-long model of a blue whale. You'll also want to explore the Rose Center for Earth & Space if you're into space-themed fun: Hayden
Each week, techies are introduced to basic engineering concepts as they build their own robot. In the Coding and Robot Inventors classes, concepts and projects gradually increase in complexity until kids can code using the Hummingbird platform and, eventually, design their own robots from start to finish. Students can also get help on homework until 6:30pm ($5/week). Courses are $560–$665/class and materials are $240–$285/class. BRF boasts four locations across Manhattan and Brooklyn, and pickup is free if at least four children attend the same school.
For an exciting craft hour, MakerSpace’s new State Island after-school program ($500) gives your moppet an understanding of the arts, engineering or design through hands-on experience in the studio. They’ll tackle individual and group projects in electronics, ceramics, construction and other neat areas. MakerSpaceNYC, Stapleton (makerspace.nyc). Ages 5–11.
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.
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.