BEIRUT: The summer’s over, school is back and the academic routine has been reinstated. However, parents keen to avoid weekends and post-homework evenings turning into video game and television fests may well start looking beyond regular school activities to keep their kids occupied. In Lebanon options abound.
For pot bangers and wall scribblers
Parents often use extracurricular activities to develop natural aptitudes their children have already started to exhibit. If your offspring like drumming with your silverware and embellishing your wall paint with their crayon collection, it may be time to source some formal music and art classes.
At L’ecole des arts Ghassan Yammine, parents can enroll children from as young as age 2 in classes designed to foster their artistic and musical abilities. On the musical front the school, which has branches in both Beirut and Kesrouan, offers music education for 2 to 6 year olds, classes in particular instruments for children aged 5 and above and choir for kids over 6.
For kids who prefer movement with their music, both classical ballet (ages 6 and above) and hip hop (ages 8 and over) classes are available. Meanwhile, painting and theater classes are offered to kids aged 7 and above.
Tuition at the Ghassan Yammine school starts at $140 for three months of classes, and rates vary depending on the topic and the level.
Kids interested in a less formalized artistic pursuit may prefer The Artwork Shop in Ras Beirut, where each Saturday there is a walk-in “artsy morning” from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Children aged 5-12 are catered for.
For more information visit L’ecole des Arts Ghasssan Yammine at http://www.edmgy.com/ or The Artwork Shop at http://www.theartworkshop.net.
For the ones that can’t be pried from their Barca shirts
If your child dreams of one day scoring more goals than Lionel Messi and Ronaldo combined, then it’s likely time they were enrolled in a football academy.
Membership in Lebanon’s elite academies doesn’t come cheap, but if you choose a good one you can be sure of value for money.
The Daily Star recommends the David Nakhid International Football Academy. This academy’s namesake was the first from his country, Trinidad and Tobago, to play professional football in Europe. Today he is the head coach at Racing Club Beirut and the owner and director of David Nakhid International Football Academy.
With the academy’s youngest team an under-8 group, Nakhid’s school has some 200 members. Registration costs $1,000 for a 10-month, or seasonlong, membership that includes three weekly training sessions with top coaches, football matches and excursions throughout the season, medical assistance during training sessions and tactical and technical video training.
For more information visit: http://www.davidnakhid.com/default.htm.
For animal lovers and cowboys
Horse riding is not an inexpensive extracurricular activity, but it does combine physical exercise with animals and time spent in the open air.
There are several equestrian centers offering lessons throughout the country. At Mont La Salle in Ain Saade, children from ages 6 to 7 years are catered for with classes provided in both riding and the care of the horse. For first timers, helmets are provided so an investment in equipment is not needed until such time as your child’s interest has been assured.
If the Wild West holds more allure for your child than the rather formal English-style riding, then check out El Rancho just north of Jounieh. At this Western themed school instructors teach everything from barrel racing to steer roping.
For more information visit Mont La Salle at http://montlasalle-ridingclub.com/ or El Rancho at http://www.elrancholebanon.com/.
For deep sea babies
Scuba Diving is largely an adult sport but at the Calypso Diving Center younger underwater enthusiasts are catered for.
The center, which is based at the Movenpick Hotel in Beirut, can take children as young as 8, depending on their size, diving in the complex’s pool.
Children aged 10 and over can commence sea diving, but only to a depth of 2 meters.
For 12 year olds and above a full diving course is offered, consisting of three to four lectures on equipment, the human body under water and planning for emergencies; one to four pool diving sessions depending on the student’s comfort levels in the water; and five sea dives that descend to a maximum depth of 12 meters for kids under 15 years.
On its youth course, the Calypso Diving Center assures one instructor to every two students. The cost of a full course is $450 including a book, and the center warns that coming into the winter season dives may have to be rescheduled sometimes due to weather conditions.
The Calypso Diving Center is on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Calypso.Diving.Center.
Lebanon is a nation of polylinguists and doubtless your child is already well on his or her way to being a full-fledged member of the “hi, kifak, ça va” brigade, but if you happen to find yourself in possession of inordinately garrulous progeny, then perhaps the ideal extracurricular pursuit is some additional language classes.
For kids who want to take up an entirely new language the Cervantes Institut offers initial, beginner and intermediate level Spanish classes in two sessions: one for children ages 7 to 11 and one for those 11 to 14 years old. Lessons cost $100 per month.
If your child’s interest leans more toward honing a language they are already learning at school, the Institut Français Liban, according to its website, gives courses on Saturdays for both children and adolescents. It even offers “fun and creative workshops” for kids as young as three years.
Visit the Cervantes Institut at http://beirut.cervantes.es/fr/default.shtm and the Institut Français Liban at http://www.institutfrancais-liban.com/.
For the ones who like to hit
What better way to cure a child that hits than by handing them a racket and telling them the object is, specifically, to hit as many balls as they can?
At the Professional Tennis School in Beirut, kids don’t just learn how to solidly hit a ball; they also learn the technique, skills and sportsmanship that make great players.
Students at the school commence with group lessons, move on to individual classes, then to local competition and perhaps eventually to international competitions.
The school starts training students from approximately age 5, using lighter rackets and special balls. Children develop the appropriate muscles to start training in earnest at age 7, the school says.
Group classes at the Professional Tennis School cost $75 a month for one training session a week and $120 a month for two sessions a week.
For more information visit the Professional Tennis School on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Pro.Tennis.Leb.
For the ones who like to kick
If you’re tired of ninja-inspired and often calamitous hi-jinks taking place within the confines of your home, it’s time to evict the culprits – at least temporarily. And why not compromise on their penchant for martial arts by sending them to learn how to kick safely and responsibly?
Numerous gyms around the country offer popular karate and other martial arts classes to children of all ages, but be sure to check on the instructor’s qualifications before enrolling your child.
For a good martial arts school in Beirut The Daily Star recommends Dojo in Ashrafieh, which offers classes for kids aged 4 and above.
For more information visit http://www.zwyx.org/dojo/index.html.