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by Rebecca Forbes


      New York City kids can spend their out-of-the-classroom hours dancing, weaving, shooting hoops, doing crunches, taking bows, flipping their opponents, balancing on beams . . . You name it!


   The choices are overwhelming. When you're looking at classes/programs, here are some pointers to help you make a decision on what activity would be perfect for your child:


—Does the program group by age, or grade?  (If your child is a young 3rd grader, for instance, you might prefer to place him with the 2nd graders, depending on the activity.  Parents with "older grade" kids may want to do the reverse).

—Does the program pick up from schools and transport kids to their facilities?  Ask if there is an extra charge for this service.

—How much advance notice do they need before they will charge you for a class your child can't attend?

—Do they extend their program when school is on break (for instance, during parent-teacher closures, or on school mini-breaks)?

—What is their policy re: snow days? Do they call students to inform them class is cancelled? Do they do make-up classes?

—If your child can't attend because of sickness, will he/she be able to make up the time?

—If your child elects to drop the class, is there a refund policy of any kind?

—What is the program's policy on parent pickups? If a parent is late, will they take care of the child, and will the child be supervised?

—Can parents sit in on classes?

—If there is a younger sibling, can that child also sit in?

—What happens if the teacher is sick — who subs?

—Does the facility offer a sample class to observe? Can the parent also attend this session?

—What are the procedures for dealing with medical emergencies?

—Are there beginner classes for older kids? (For instance, you don't want your 10-year-old tap dancer learning the steps with 2nd graders).

 —If a child gets hurt during a class, is there more than one adult in attendance — another adult who can step in to take care of the child?


—Is there running water in the bathroom for hand washing?

—Is bottled drinking water available, or should your child bring her own?

—Is a snack provided?

—Is the facility spacious, clean, and uncluttered?

—Is there enough space for parents/younger siblings to sit in (if this is what you would want to do)?

—Is there a secure area for students to leave their backpacks and other belongings?

 —Is the space heated/air conditioned?

 —Is the equipment kid-sized? (important in an exercise or gymnastics program)

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