Costa Rica Coffee Guide

A Magical, Creative Place for Children After Class

September 24, 2004

WHAT do your children do after school?Do you feel pressured about the time you canspend nurturing their natural talents, arousingtheir sense of curiosity or trying to help themwhen they get cranky about doing their homework?If the answer is “yes,” AftersChOOL,which has just opened in the western suburbof Escazú, is the perfect solution. Offeringmuch more than daycare, it’s a dream cometrue for parents who want their children’s creativity,self-confidence andimagination awakened in anintriguing and entertainingway.This unique after-schoolprogram – the only one of itskind in this country – is thebrainchild of DirectorPriscilla Barzuna, a psychologistwith years of teachingexperience in the UnitedStates. Marketing ManagerGabriel Saragovia has abackground in visual arts andbiology.“A strange combination,”Saragovia laughs.“Inspired by our love ofchildren, we are dedicated tocreating the perfect non-structured extracurricularenvironment, where tender loving careand the child’s well-being is the greatest priority,”Barzuna said.“You won’t find any TV or computershere; they stifle creativity,” Saragovia added.“Our aim is to encourage self-expression in arelaxed, happy and healthy atmosphere.”AftersChOOL, an enchanting children’shaven, is housed in a spacious, light and airyresidence, which has been decked out withkiddie’s furnishings and adorned with popularcartoon characters, fairytale motifs and educationalillustrations.TWO sessions catering to different agegroups can accommodate up to 40 children –5 to 7 year olds from 12:30-2:30 p.m. andages 7-11 between 2:30-4 p.m.Delicious well-balanced, healthy lunchesfor the younger kids and afternoon snacks forthe older ones are preparedwith all natural ingredientsby a certified nutritionist.Meals are served at smalltables on the verandah, overlookingthe lawn and manicuredgarden. Kiddy-sizedchairs decorated with collagesof the much lovedShrek, Scooby-Do,Superman, Harry Potter, plusWinnie-the-Pooh and friendsare great favorites whenchoosing where to sit.Two child psychologistsinteract with the children ascross-trained instructors,while bilingual teachers areon hand to help with school assignments orextra tutoring including English and Spanish.Special attention is available for children withlearning disabilities.The homework room has a “wise wall”plastered with fascinating facts, plus a cozyreading corner overflowing with large cushions.The early childhood room is also adelight and even the washrooms are decorated– football for the boys, a fashion parade forthe girls.For kids who’ve finished their homework,or don’t have any, creative activities aboundin an exciting variety of ways. Ceramics,Little Chef (easy and safe cooking), Fun Mathand Crazy Science, 3D Madness, an introductionto sculpture using papier mâché and clay,plus Splash & Paint can be extremely messy,but wonderful fun.IN the yoga room, with its padded floorand full-length mirror covering one wall,child yoga specialist Silvia Durán teachesAnimal Yoga.“The kids love all the types of animalstretches and positions,” Barzuna said. Jazzdancing taught by members of the Jazzgobadance company and karate are also popularchoices, as well a Caporeira, an energeticBrazilian dance based on martial arts.“This is very popular with the boys,”Saragovia said. “Kids are encouraged to focuson activities and disciplines in which theymay excel.”AftersChOOL’s impeccable extracurricularprogram gives kids something to look forwardto after a structured school day.“OUR goal is to help children surpassany obstacles they may have encountered inschool in a non-competitive, safe relaxedenvironment and allow them to focus onactivities and disciplines in which they mayexcel,” Barzuna said.“It’s all about wearing flip-flops, munchingrice cookies and having endless fun,”Saragovia added.AftersChOOL plans to offer a specialChristmas program and other school vacationprograms.It is located in Escazú 300 meters southof the Costa Rica Country Club and 75meters west of the Magia Verde GardenCenter.For information and rates call 228-0773.

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