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Classes for Kids

Steve Penhollow
Jan. 21, 2010

Popular extracurricular classes for your child

According to Laura Payne, assistant professor of Leisure Studies at the University of Illinois, classes that address deficits in the everyday school system and limitations in the households of working parents such as cooking, art, theater, nature related, and classes that make exercise fun for kids are the most popular classes these days.

Extracurricular computer classes are also hot, not surprisingly. What is surprising to learn is the reason why. You wouldn't think children would lack for computer exposure, but most of what they learn is self-taught these days. Structured computer coursework is far from widespread in public or private schools.

Some of the Most Popular Classes for Kids

Many of the classes below are available to kids at the club level too, which is great for kids who want to try something new.

  • Manga art classes: "Manga" is the Japanese word for comic books and comic strips. Anime is the Japanese word for animated movies and TV series. A number of popular American TV shows like "Teen Titans," "Avatar: The Last Airbender, "Samurai Jack" "Clone Wars," and "Powerpuff Girls," are heavily influenced by this distinctive Japanese cartoon style. Many kids are itching to learn how to draw this way. Manga and anime drawing classes are often offered through libraries, art schools and local comic book shops.
  • Hip hop dance: Learning the dance moves associated with popular music has always had a powerful attraction for kids. Unfortunately, hip hop music often has lyrics that many parents find unacceptable. Many local dance studios and community theaters offer kid safe hip hop instruction, meaning the music employed is free of profanity and misogyny. Some classes even provide history lessons about this style of dance??that has been around in one form or another for 30 years. If your child is interested, check with the instructor to make sure the lyrics are kid-appropriate!
  • Acting classes, technical theater, and television production classes: School plays and musicals are often the first things to fall prey to budget cuts. Many community theaters, community centers and college theater departments fill the gap by offering classes in acting and stagecraft for kids. Some classes specifically focus on acting for television commercials or on improvisational comedy. It is often part of the mission of local public access channels to offer classes in television production, editing, camera operation, and news-reading.
  • Zoology: Most zoos and animal parks offer classes for kids that involve live interaction with exotic animals, insects, and aquatic life. Check your local natural history and science museums too.
  • Hiking, naturalism, geology, and conservation: Regional divisions and departments of parks and recreation usually offer all kinds of classes conducted on state and national park land by experienced guides, geologists and biologists. Botanical gardens and conservatories are another good source for classes on flora and fauna.??The National Audubon Society and other organizations offer classes and summer camps that teach kids about nature.
  • Computer classes for kids: There's nothing "geeky" about computer classes. You can find classes for kids as young as two years old. Imagine Tomorrow, Cybergarden Kids, and CompuChild all offer classes nationwide.??Few elementary and middle schools provide mandatory computer science classes.??Some technology teachers believe young children benefit greatly from early computer education. Check technical colleges for kid oriented classes as well. Basic computer skills are taught in these sorts of classes, including proficiency at using the mouse and keyboard, and knowledge of basic computer software.
  • Yoga: Yoga classes for kids are hugely popular, not just because of the exercise component, but for the stress-reduction dimension as well, according to Marsha Wenig, creator of the YogaKids video and a certification program that trains teachers to share yoga with kids. Wenig believes kids get immense emotional benefits from yoga. Many yoga studios, universities, YMCAs, and YWCAs now offer classes specifically for kids and it is a popular offering at summer camps, as well.

Steve Penhollow writes about trends, arts, and entertainment for families.

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