Engaging After-School Classes for Children in San Francisco

A Little Yumminess - San Francisco Bay Area
January 4, 2013

There are a great many options for children these days for after-school care and enrichment in San Francisco. The difficult part is not finding the options but rather deciding what activity to enroll your children in.

In making your decision, if you have the time, you should visit the programs while they are underway to get a sense of the quality of the program and whether it will meet your family's needs. Factors to consider before enrolling your child in any after school program:

  • Quality of instructors and instruction
  • Safety and cleanliness of space
  • Quality of the resources and equipment
  • Age appropriateness of the activities for your child
  • Ease of pick-up and drop-off. Consider if other friends will join the classes, so you can arrange car pools
  • Consider cost and if need be figure out if the program offers scholarships
  • Your child's interest in the activities offered

Below are some of the after-school offerings in the San Francisco area that are worth looking into for your children.

Art After School at the De Young 

The De Young, in addition to being a world class art museum, offers some wonderful art classes for the young ones. The "Art After School" program offers an in-depth exploration of world cultures through the museum's collections of art from Africa, Oceania, Mesoamerica and North America. Through careful observation and engaging art activities, these classes investigate the connections between the visual arts, language arts and social studies. The Art After School program is based on the de Young's Get Smart with Art curriculum materials.

The classes are for specific grades and meet twice over a two-week period and are generally held on Wednesdays from 4:00 to 5:30 p.m.

Dance at ODC

The ODC in the Mission District offers a wide array of dance classes for children as young as two years old. The program is dedicated to high quality technical training within a non-competitive environment and offers access to many forms of dance. The thoughtful program is also designed to cater to each child's strengths and aims to encourage children to have a positive body image.

The program also exposes and connects children to the ODC/Dance Company and the ODC Theatre and the Rhythm and Motion Dance Program, which offers several multicultural dance opportunities. This is an ideal place to check out if you want to expose your children to dance for fun or lay the foundation of a future interest in dance. The children are exposed to technique, rhythm, spatial awareness, moving to music, and dancing in groups.

Music at Blue Bear School of Music 

The Blue Bear School of Music is a center for aspiring musicians of all ages and all skills levels who want to enjoy learning and playing rock, blues, jazz, folk, or pop music. You can sign your children up for an after-school group or private lessons for a variety of instruments. What makes the school unique is that the teachers are not only talented professional musicians, but also dedicated and trained educators. Private lessons in guitar, piano, bass, voice, mandolin, drums, and GarageBand are available for school-age children and can be arranged by calling the school.

The Blue Bear School of Music is located in the Fort Mason Center in the Marina, and the easy, ample parking adds to its appeal for families with kids. Blue Bear also provides annual scholarships by audition to talented young musicians and offers "sliding scale" pricing to those who cannot afford lessons.

Various Options at the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco (JCCSF)

The JCCSF is a "one-stop shop" offering a wide range of after school classes for children of all ages. Their offerings range from art and ceramics, aquatics, dance and gymnastics, and all kinds of sports. If you so desired, you could find an activity for each day of the week without any boredom on your child's part.

Registration is convenient and easy (online), and discounts and other benefits are offered to members of the JCCSF. The JCCSF also offers scholarships for most of their programs if you are looking for financial aid. The space is open, clean, new, and welcoming. Parents can work out, grab a snack at the café, or even attend a class that interests them while the little ones are in class. There is also ample underground parking, which adds to the convenience of going to the JCC with children in tow.


Stacie Dong and Simran Singh are San Francisco Bay Area moms and the creators of A Little Yumminess, a family food blog where they share spiced-up recipes and kid-friendly food adventures. You can also find them on Facebook.

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