Gymboree play and learn classes are pretty well known in the mommy ( and daddy) groups. Most people who have a child for a few years will go at least once even if its for a birthday party. Most parents also wonder if by not going they are somehow damaging their child or not having them meet their full potential. There are lots of classes to pick from. Classes are broken down into age groups in order to focus on skills children do at that age, which is a great idea. However, parents can choose to move up or down class levels based on their child. They also offer music classes and art classes. The normal fee is $69 a month per child for one 45 minuet class per week. You are also allowed to come to any of the open play sessions at no extra cost. Open play is when there is no real class, the kids just run around and play in the room full of things to climb, crawl threw, slide down and play with. Balls. Stuffed toys, books, ect are around the room. They run specials all the time but the normal price is $69 a month per child, and 30% off for each sibling after.
Open plays seem to be more fun than the classes for small kids. The people teaching the class really do try, but most of the kids just want run around. A downside to the classes is also that they move from one thing to the next and the kids are not always happy. For example, they will give out maracas to use for a song and then they expect the room of two year olds to give them back after having them for three minuets. Same with bubbles and story times. Many of the kids have meltdowns because of this, and it seems to be less fun and more work. Open plays where the kids can just run around and play with whatever they want seem to be much more enjoyable for the little ones. The issue with this is that 95% of the open plays are at times when most adults are at work. It seems like their classes are really centered around stay at home parents, with little regard to working parents. There is one open play at 6pm in the week, and none on the weekends that a person working a normal day job can make it to. On the other hand, there are normally at least three or four open plays at times when most working parents are at work. The classes and open play are fun for kids, and its a nice environment. Its a great way for kids to get out energy and to play with other kids. The people working there are beyond nice and have even mentioned that they are trying to look into having more weekend options, which would be nice.
That being said $69 per month isn’t worth it if you cant really get to open plays which is what really gives you the bang for your buck. If you are a stay at home parent and can make it to the weekly class and three open plays, thenit might be worth it. But for those who cant, free story times at the library, and if you live near one the Storyville at the library offer the same enjoyment without the strict schedule and high price tag. In fact, they are free! Really, in nice weather a park will do the same thing too. I don’t think these classes give the kids who attend any upper hand in life.
If you want to try, visit Gymboree’s website and get a pass to try a free class!