Old Town School of Folk Music
Today’s little learners have an advantage on their parents because the kids’ class scene is virtually bursting with options. And some of them are downright awesome – a far cry from the same old, same old classes of our generation. Check out these picks for unique learning opportunities that are good enough for your one-in-a-million kids.
If they like ballet, then try hiplet.
This dazzling combo of ballet and hip-hop has gained national attention thanks to the magic of viral videos. The Chicago Multi-Cultural Dance Center is the only school in the world to teach the classical pointe/urban dance hybrid. Get your kids ready to join the phenomenon (ages 18+) by taking a spin at Creative Movement, Beginning Ballet, Tap, Acrobatics, Hip Hop or African Dance classes.
47 W. Polk St., Chicago
If they like gymnastics, then try ninja warrior.
The allure of the Warped Wall is truly hard to resist. Prepare your mini-warriors for prime time competition with Ultimate Ninjas’ classes that include the obstacles that show up on NBC’s hit show each week. All classes are designed and led by a real-life ninja warrior, so you’ll probably need to get ready to be surpassed as your kid’s biggest hero.
Locations in Chicago, Naperville and Libertyville
If they like karate, then try MMA.
This mixed martial arts class really knows how to take down the competition. Would-be Ronda Rousseys can learn the fundamentals of MMA and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu at Chicago Mixed Martial Arts, which also teaches street safety and bullying prevention tips, tactics and strategies through the STREET SAFE program.
1528 N. Halsted St., Chicago
If they like drama, then try improv.
Your kids make you laugh every. single. day. So why not tap into their inner comedian with the Kids Improv Program at The Second City, where they get an intro to “Yes, and” and have a lot of fun. These no- and low-pressure classes are also the perfect way to encourage shy performers to peek out of their shells.
230 W. North Ave., Chicago
If they like violin, then try banjo.
Avoid that nails-on-a-chalkboard sound of an amateur string player (#sorrynotsorry) with another type of stringed instrument. Old Town School of Folk Music offers banjo lessons for young’uns, teaching them to play tunes by ear. Plus, they’ll learn some downhome pickin’ techniques, which are sure to come in handy at your next hipster get-together.
4544 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago
If they like drawing, then try comics
If art is their superpower, this Comics class at Hyde Park Art Center is worth checking out. Over the course of eight weeks, kids will create their own comic book from start to finish, learning to draw cartoon figures, tell a story and uncover their own superhero identity. And before you know it, they’ll be calling it a “graphic novel.”
5020 S. Cornell Ave., Chicago
Hyde Park Art Center
If they like robotics, then try coding.
STEM classes are hot, but designing robots can leave some kids a little cold. Video game enthusiasts will love to build their own apps and games at Codeverse. Bonus: Consider their Kids Night Out parties, perfect when parents need a break and your kids can have a blast learning about coding.
If they like mommy & me yoga, then try baby carrier barre.
Step right up to the barre — with your baby in tow! Mommy & Me classes are truly on point thanks to Prenatal Fit’s Baby Carrier Ballet Barre class, which lets new mommas keep their little ones nearby while they plie, releve, arabesque and tuck back to their pre-baby shape.
1937 W. Diversey Parkway, Chicago
If they like cooking, then try cookie decorating
The best thing about this class? The mess stays out of your kitchen! Give Me Some Sugar, a Roscoe Village cake decorating studio, lets kids use their imaginations to decorate a half-dozen cookies. They also have drop-in cupcake decorating in case you need a sweet fix (each student takes home six cupcakes).
2205 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago
If they like Spanish, then try Chinese.
More than a billion people speak some form of Chinese, so it only makes sense to build your kids’ language skills before they actually come in handy. Check out Paper Lantern, a language and cultural center, which starts its lessons in Mandarin Chinese during the preschool years. Advanced classes touch on listening and speaking as well as character recognition and learning pinyin.
1034 1/2 Lake Street Suite 204, Oak Park
If they like science, then add some creativity.
The Laboratory in Wicker Park teaches kids about chemistry, engineering and food science through cartoons, movie villains and Harry Potter. Are your kids obsessed with superheroes? Consider the lab’s “Science of Superheroes Training Academy” for ages 4.5 to 6.5 where kids will uncover superhero powers through science.
2349 W. North Ave., Chicago
If they like building, then let them use the right tools.
Power tools, laser cutters and 3D modeling software take center stage at Bit Space where you get to take home whatever you create. Their Open Shop is great for kids ages 9 and older looking for a new type of activity to try after school or during the weekends.
Locations in Chicago and Wilmette
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This story originally published on Nov. 11, 2017. It has been updated with the most recent information.