Getting a leg up

Calculating the costs of the after-school activities your child needs to get a jump on the competition

Forget playtime. Between school, coding classes, violin classes, fencing practice and swim meets, children’s schedules today are chock-full of activities that keep them as busy — if not busier — than the average adult.

But why is that? Jenny Dewar, a New York City mom whose fourth grader takes fencing, swimming, piano, aikido and Chinese, says she prefers her daughter to have a full schedule. “It’s good for her health; these activities take her away from her electronics time,” she told LLNYC. “It’s a great way for her to de-stress from the pressures of school.”

Of course, playing a sport or a musical instrument can reap benefits for talented children later on in life and Dewar admits “these activities certainly do serve as a resume-building component” that may be useful for her daughter when she starts applying to colleges.

Because if you aren’t enrolling your child in activities, you can be sure your best friend is. In her book “Primates of Park Avenue,” Wednesday Martin explains that for Upper East Side parents, it’s not only a question of enrolling your children in lots of programs — they also have to be the right programs. “Before nursery school, your toddler was supposed to take classes at Diller-Quaile School of Music,” Martin writes. “Before Diller-Quaile, you were supposed to do a certain baby group. Everything, it seemed, fed into everything else, and having this knowledge, exchanging it, and acting on it in a timely fashion was something like insider trading. It affirmed that you were part of the tribe of Upper East Side mommies.”

For this ranking, we searched for activities that a hypothetical 10-year-old child living in New York City is “supposed” to take, in Martin’s sense of the word, and calculated the cost per hour in some cases for comparison. The classes and studios below are popular, but we make no claim that they are “the best” of their kind. Rather, we hope they provide a snapshot of just how much time — and money — it takes for your kid to compete today.

1. Coding Classes at Techno Team

Have dreams your kid will be the next Mark Zuckerberg? Might be time to sign him or her up for coding lessons at The Techno Team, which offers group classes as well as private tutoring from their center on the Upper West Side. Private tutoring starts at $175 per hour.

fencers-club2. Fencers Club

At this Chelsea studio, your child will learn fencing next to Olympians-in-training. Every one of the coaches has received a maestro degree in fencing and has extensive experience teaching at all levels. In addition to the hourly rate, you must also become a member of the club for $950. $40 for 20-minute class ($120 per hour*).

3. Ice Skating Lessons at Lasker Rinkcentral-park-ice-skating

No one should attempt to do a triple salchow without expert training, and Lasker Rink provides just that for beginning and more advanced skaters. And who could ask for a prettier setting than Central Park? Private lessons start at $120 per hour and go up to $150.


4. Skiing Lessons at Jackson Hole

Jackson Hole is one of the best — if not the best — ski resorts in the world, so it’s likely that your child might find themselves skiing there on vacation. No one is born knowing how to ski, so lessons are an absolute must. A full-day of private lessons is $780 ($111 per hour*).

5. Horseback Riding Lessons at Riverdale Stables

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No matter if it’s summer or winter, this riding academy has the facilities for your youngster to learn to ride like a pro. The school has access to 75 horses and offers an indoor riding ring that is heated so you won’t catch a chill while you cheer them on. Private lessons are $100 per hour.

chess-lessons6. Chess Lessons at Chess NYC

If your child can master the game of chess, it might be just the leg up he or she needs to attract the attention of the admissions gods. Chess NYC offers tutors who will come to your homes in the city and the Hamptons, so your child can continue to play even when school is out. Private lessons are $95 per hour.

piano-lessons7. Piano lessons at Diller-Quaile School

This historic music school on the Upper East Side has been teaching tots piano since 1920. Today, they offer lessons in many different types of music for your young one, including international folk music. The core program in piano is $4,395 for a 30-week semester ($73 per hour*).

8. Chinese lessons at China Institute

chinese-lessonsYour child will benefit immensely later in life from learning a second language now. Chinese is notoriously difficult, so it is best to sign your child up as young as possible. With private tutoring, your student will get a customized syllabus that plays to their strengths. Private lessons are $100 per hour.

9. Swimming lessons at Imagine Swimming

This popular swimming school has a dozen locations in Manhattan and a staff that includes former Olympic swimmers. Imagine offers a low 1-to-4 teacher/student ratio for its classes. $44 for a 40-minute class ($66 per hour*).


10. Yoga Classes at Pure Yoga

Your children can enjoy the offerings at your favorite neighborhood yoga studio just as much as you do. Pure Yoga on the Upper East and Upper West Sides offers a Yogi Beans class for tots, which is as fun as it is relaxing. $40 for a single class ($32 per hour*).