Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Baby Class Reviews: Gymboree Play & Music Lakeview – Gym Play & Learn 3

I will be rating baby classes on a 5 star (*) scale.  I will also review price, age, size, length, cleanliness, space, parking, open play toys, instructor, content, Henry’s opinion, mom’s opinion, other moms, music, make-ups and activity.  Some of the classes are exclusive to Chicago, and some are national/international chains.  For a stay-at-home mom in the winter, baby classes are part of a survival guide.  A baby class introduces you to other moms with babies of the same age, and gets you out of the house.  Plus, baby gets to interact with others his age, which is great for his socialization and development.

Gymboree Play & Music – Chicago, Lakeview
3158 N. Lincoln Ave (at Belmont)
Chicago, IL 60657
(773) 296-1770

**** THREE STARS ****

Price:   $30 new member initiation fee + $88 monthly fee -- I hear the monthly fee will be continuously charged until you cancel

Age:  10-16 months

Size:  Large.  Around 15-20 babies

Length:  45 minutes

Convenience:  It was extremely convenient to sign-up online, and when I called the Lakeview location, I spoke with a person immediately.  No waiting.

Cleanliness:  Kind of clean.  Gym mats tend to breed bacteria and germs, but I did notice a staff member cleaning during our class. (Scale: Super, Very, Kind of, Not at all)

Space:  Tons of great climbing apparatuses, bridges, slides, and open areas.  There are 2 rooms, one for songs and one for climbing and romping.  

Parking:  Relatively easy street parking (pay box, up to 2 hours for $2.50).    

Open Play Toys:  No need for toys when there are so many things to climb.

Instructor:  Upbeat and enthusiastic instructors, although the regular teacher at my test class had left for another job. 

Content:  We went back and forth between singing songs and climbing.  It was extremely active.  Parachute play is always a hit, and so was the walking log push.  Watching a dozen toddlers collectively push a giant plush log was hilarious.  Kids wear nametags on their back, which is convenient for the instructor, but makes it seem impersonal and corporate mixeresque.  Gymboree sells their own brand of bubbles that seem to be super special because float like they are suspended in time.

Henry’s Opinion:  H wasn’t sure about going back and forth between the two rooms.  He also hated the fun house mirror, which I thought was absolutely hilarious.  But he always loves interacting with other babies, and loves climbing.

Mom’s Opinion:  Great activity.  I loved that Henry could climb different types of materials and structures.  I’m not a fan of the clowns - there are 2 puppet clowns used during class.  I liked that the instructor gave some information on child development and how the particular activity was applicable.  The class was on the large side.  Open play hours are convenient.

Other Moms:  The other moms, dads and caregivers were very friendly.  The majority of the caregivers were nannies. 

Music:  C - No background music, just singing, and there’s no quality to the instructor’s singing voice.

Make-ups:  Unlimited make-ups, which can be scheduled online! 

Activity:  Tons of activity. 

Bonus:  Open play hours actually work with a toddler’s nap schedule.

See Other Baby Class Reviews

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