September. It’s the busiest time of the year as little ones across the UAE settle into a more formal routine after the long lazy days of summer and sign-ups for after-school clubs begin. With so many hobbies to choose from, it’s not easy carving up the calendar to fit it all in. As parents, we worry about over-scheduling, yet we also want to their stars to shine, let them have fun and make new friends. We’ve done the research for you and pulled together a mix of fun, educational, arty and sporty clubs, along with some valuable tips from the providers to make the choosing – and the planning – that little bit easier...
Stars in their eye
Whether their preference is an elegant arabesque or a toe-twitching tap dance, let them twist and twirl to their heart’s delight. A performing arts class is a great way to build confidence while having fun.
Little hearts beating for Broadway will jump at the chance of being part of a musical theatre class where they can sing, dance and be as dramatic as they like.
Dhs1,380 (Mini Musical Theatre, ages five to eight), Dhs2,250 (Musical Theatre, ages eight to 20). Diverse Studios, Entrance A (Studio M1, M2, M3, M5 & M6), The Curve Building, off Sheikh Zayed Rd (800 DIVERSE).
Impact International Music & Dance Centre
A weekly hip-hop class will let them move their funky feet and learn some cool moves. The Impact Centre teaches kids the foundations and techniques of dance.
Prices vary. Impact International Music & Dance Centre, Motor City, Jumeirah Town Centre and City Walk (04 361 5002).
Dubai Performing Arts School
DPA principals Lisa Scott-Lee of Steps fame, and her husband, West End star and former pop band singer Johnny Shentall-Lee, are on hand to share their experiences of the pop and musical theatre world with their students. Their talented teaching team offer classes covering all aspects of performing arts, within first-class facilities at various Fitness First locations.
From Dhs70 per class. Fitness First Meadows, Lakes Club, Green Community and more to come soon. www.dubai performingarts.com.
Budding thespians will have fun with drama and go on imaginative adventures as they explore the wonderful world of poetry and prose with Centre Stage Speech and Drama Classes (LAMDA) in Al Quoz.
Dhs1,130 (ages five to seven for a 12-week course). Sun-Mon 3.30pm-4.30pm, Sat 9am-10am & 10am-11am; Dhs 1,130 (ages eight to eleven for a 12-week course). Sun-Mon 4.30pm-5.30pm, The Courtyard Building, Al Quoz 1, www.courtyardplayhouse.com (050 781 2269).
Feel the beat
Music makes the world go round. If your little one loves to sing and bang out a beat it might be time to put their talents to good use. Think of all those piano recitals you’d have to look forward to!
The Music Box
A foundation in music is a great way to stretch the brain and the founders of The Music Box are firm believers in the all the benefits it brings. With lots of instruments to choose from they’re sure to find their musical “thing” and become mini maestros in no time.
Dhs120 (per half hour lesson), Dhs200 (per hour lesson). Times on request. Dubai Silicon Oasis, www.themusicbox.ae (04 392 2646).
From the flute to the piano, violin to the guitar and all manner of percussion, lessons for every type of musician are catered for by Brooklyn Melodies. Plus there’s a chance for them to join an ensemble, as well as participate in annual recitals and other
Prices vary. Various locations including Arabian Ranches Community Centre, www.brooklynmelodies.com (04 447 1884).
Drums, violin, piano and even the ukulele, budding musicians are spoiled for choice with a huge array of classes on offer. With three branches to choose from and classes in many languages, your home will be filled with music in no time.
Dhs580 (monthly fees). Open Sun-Thu 10am-8pm, Golden Mile Galleria, M Floor, Building 3 Palm Jumeirah (04 374 3434), Al Wasl Road 1, Wasl Vita Mall, Ground Floor, Jumeirah (04 385 5510) Mazaya Business Avenue, AA1, Unit 1506, JLT (04 369 9929).
They can burn off some energy, feel the power of the beat and make some noise at the kids’ drumming circle, facilitated by Dubai Drums. They’ll soon have rhythm like Ringo, just don’t let your little Starrs anywhere near the pans when they get home!
Dhs60 per child, per session. Urban Tribe Studio, Street 17, Al Quoz (056 744 2129).
Make a splash
With Dubai’s balmy temperatures and year-round blue skies, having fun in the water is a huge part of most families’ down time here. So, knowing how to swim safely while having fun is par for the course. Give them a head start with some aqua adventures.
Try some aquatic acrobatics with some springboard and high-board diving lessons, where they can pull some tricks in the air before cooling down in the cool blue yonder.
Dhs80 per lesson. Sun-Thu 3.45pm-4.45pm, 4.45pm-5.45pm, Hamdan Sports Complex, opposite Global Village, www.dudive.com (055 645 8478).
Whether they’re learning the front crawl for the first time or brushing up on their breast stroke, there are classes to suit every level here. Hamilton Aquatics’ Learn To Swim programme is based on a framework developed by the Amateur Swimming Association (ASA), England’s national governing body for swimming, and is open to children from three upwards.
Dhs1,700-Dhs1900 per child, per term (20 weeks). Timings and locations vary, www.hamiltonaquatics.ae (04 450 8832).
If they are after some fun in the pool or have their eye on the prize of becoming an elite athlete, this club offers a wide range of swimming options for all abilities, with professional coaches to put them through their paces.
Dhs85 per class (term fees calculated according to number of weeks in the term). Times and locations vary, www.mandssports.com (04 2283 283).
It’s never too young to take to the water. You and your little splasher can enjoy a safe and fun introduction to swimming with a BabySplash class, where expert coaches trained to deal with the tiniest tots will put them at ease.
Prices vary according to location, locations across Dubai, www.babysplashdubai.com (050 354 9142).
Some kids like to run like the wind, bat for glory or cartwheel like an acrobat. Whether you have a team player or a solo star, there are numerous sports to choose from to help them keep fit and healthy. And the added bonus is that they might just tire them out!
Let them have a go at setting new records as they train at this state-of-the-art facility in Sports City. Little runners from as young as four can learn from fully qualified coaches. Age-grouped training throughout the week is available, plus organised race nights against other clubs. On your marks, get set, go!
From Dhs800 per term (Tots aged four to six); Dhs1,040 per term (Youth group aged seven to 12 and Teens from age 13 upwards). Dubai Sports City, www.ultimateathleticsuae.com (050 225 7024).
Elite Sports Academy
A firm favourite among parents and schools across the city, Elite Sports Academy is hard to beat when it comes to the range of sporting options it offers. Its coaches train kids in a myriad of sports, including basketball, hockey, tag rugby, swimming, tennis, football and karate. They also run beginner and advanced football teams through Elite FC.
Prices and locations vary. www.elite-fc.ae.
If your little one loves balancing on a beam and vaulting high in the air, then an artistic gymnastics class is a great choice. From beginner right through to academy levels, young talent is nurtured.
Prices and times vary. Foremarke school, Al Barsha, Sunmarke school, JVT, Regent International, The Greens (055 601 6095).
Grab your board and catch a wave because a surf lesson is the essence of cool, as well as being a great way to enjoy the ocean. All instructors are fully qualified and accredited by the International Surfing Association.
Dhs1,100 (15-week course). Sat 8.30am (ages five to seven); 9.45am (ages eight to 10); 11am (ages 11 to 13). Kite Beach, www.sufingdubai.com (04 321 1309).
From arts and crafts to building their own robot, some children love to stretch their imaginations and get creative.
Do they like shading with pencils or splashing the paint? Classes in drawing and painting enable children to develop their skills according to their individual capability. Students are taught using a step-by-step process how to do free-hand drawing, colour with correct shading and paint their pictures using different media, including acrylic paints on canvas.
Dhs340 (four-week course for ages four to seven), Mon 4pm-5pm, Tue-Thu, 3.20pm-4.30pm; Dhs460 (ages eight to 14), Sat 3.30pm-5.30pm, Sun 4.30pm-6.30pm, Mall of the Emirates (04 341 4777).
A weekly 45-minute advanced art class at Kidville teaches children how to plan, build and construct their own 3D art projects using wood, collage, cloth and clay. There are a whole host of other classes in art, music, dance, gym and cooking available here, too.
Free trial classes available. Kidville family centres can be found at Dubai Marina, Jumeirah and Uptown Mirdiff. www.members-kidville.com.
Minds require a good workout just as much as the body does. The Robotics Fun Club gives kids from as young as seven the chance to learn how to build a robot and control them through a computer. Come on now, how cool does that sound?
Dhs1,650 per child, per term (10 percent early bird discount available). Fun Robotics, Safestway building, Sheikh Zayed Road, www.fun-robotics.com (055 594 5149).
Kids learn to “swipe” at a very young age but Miniversity teaches them healthy keyboard skills. They cover typing not swiping, shortcut keys, email and internet safety and presentation skills – both verbal and visual. The Saturday club is a fun, two-hour session where their imagination takes over.
Dhs175. Sat 9am-11am (ages six to eight); noon-2pm (ages nine to 12), Apex Atrium Building, Suite 208, 2nd Floor, Motor City, (055 2747 107).
A magician never usually reveals his secrets…Until now! Dubai Community Theatre and Arts Centre has persuaded the UAE's favorite master of illusion, Magic Phil, to reveal some of his tricks to aspiring young tricksters (who will, of course, have to pledge the vow of silence) by joining his weekly Magic Club, starting from September 11.
Dhs110 per class. Every Monday, 5.30pm-7pm, DUCTAC, Mall of the Emirates. For kids aged eight to 15. www.ductac.org.
Some advice for talented tots (and their parents)
After-school clubs are a big business here in the UAE, and there’s a rich tapestry of activities on offer, from dance to sports, art to science. But how much is too much? Trisha King, principal of Smart Start Kindergarten, breaks it down for us.
“While after-school clubs and activities have so many positive benefits, it’s important to remember the purpose of enrolling your child. Is it to extend the time for which they are in someone else’s care, or to allow them to explore new interests or is it to give them opportunity to thrive in an area they have shown skill? Children can get very excited and want to try everything that’s on offer but perhaps pick one or two activities that your child can focus on and review at the end of every term, having considered their level of enjoyment and other key factors.
“If your child gets overstretched and starts falling asleep on the way home from school or before dinner, it’s probably time to reconsider their schedule and whether or not it’s too much for them. It’s also important to ensure that amongst all the chaos of leading busy lives, family time is made a priority. Children need time to share and talk about their days and apply what they have learned to the world around them.
“The key to achieving this is by making sure that there is enough time in the day and week to allow special time together. Committing to numerous clubs and activities can be exhausting for both children and parents but with careful planning, it’s definitely possible to have a wonderful mix of opportunities that will allow children to flourish both in and out of school.”
Lisa and Scott Marshall, Diverse
“The pressures of school here can be a lot, and the release of dancing, singing and acting for a few hours helps children to get away from their stresses for a while. Performing arts help to improve a child’s confidence with role play, improvisation and script work, which can be used to help them generally day-to-day or even perhaps use as life lessons later as they grow up.”
Daniel Campbell, Coach, Du Dive
“The most important thing parents and children need to remember when taking part in aquatic activities is the need to hydrate! It’s hot enough in Dubai as it is, and being in the pool tricks your brain into thinking you don’t need to drink. To get the most out of your time in the pool, and to keep your children healthy, parents need to make sure their children drink plenty of water before, during and after any activities in the pool.”
Kathy Brennan, Director, Miniversity
“STEM is all about curiosity and imagination which, for me, begins in childhood and should be constantly renewed as knowledge and technologies expand. It touches every aspect of our lives, from smartphones to the technologies that enable us to explore the world around us.”