Five fun Toronto programs to prepare kids for the new economy

Extracurriculars are pretty standard for most kiddos: sports, dance, maybe a games club, an art workshop or a drama class.

But what if your child’s outside-of-school activities could teach him or her skills that might actually look impressive on a resumé when the time comes to apply for a job? If it seems far-fetched — because your offspring don’t even have bank accounts or know how to do their laundry yet — believe us, it isn’t.

Read on to learn about five programs in the GTA where your youngster is sure to pick up a thing or two.

For budding filmmakers
Fast Motion Studios specializes in motion capture and visual effect services, and it has smartly extended its expertise to kids. Parents of children aged nine to 14 can choose from after-school and camp-format workshops to introduce kids to the world of creating motion pictures, television shows or video games, in a hands-on way under the watchful eye of the pros. The company occupies an 8,000-square-foot building, with an in-house studio space, so the only problem will be finding your future tech expert should he or she decide never to leaving.

For computer wunderkinds
Knowing how to code is fast becoming a vital skill in many industries. Give your kids a jump on the competition by letting the experts at Hatch teach them how to program. Kids will learn to write code, as well as how to debug, find errors and read code written by others, in a fun, collaborative setting. Hatch also has classes in robotics, video editing, 3D modelling and more. Choose from weekly classes, camps or $5 Fridays, where kids who are interested in tech can come and try out a variety of workshops to get a feel for Hatch’s style.

For young entrepreneurs
Junior Achievement (JA) has been around for almost 100 years. It is dedicated to teaching kids about financial literacy, work readiness and entrepreneurship, and to date it has served more than 4.4 million Canadian students. JA Central Ontario offers programs for kids from Grade 5 and up, with topics such as owning and running your own business, making smart money decisions, understanding the value of diversity and how to be successful in academic pursuits. Visit the website to learn more about program offerings and availability in your area.

For future engineers
Named Best Kids’ Workshop by Toronto Life Magazine, MakerKids Coding and Robotics for Kids runs 10-week programs, for two hours a week either after school or on weekends, with an aim to teach kids real-world skills while helping them make friends and create something amazing. Choose from coding (How to Code a Video Game), robotics (Make It Light Up) and Minecraft (Commands and Circuits) options this fall. The programs, suitable for kids aged seven to 12, tout the ability to change kids from “consumers to creators.” Go online to read more or to register for an upcoming session. Birthday party and school PA day programs are also on offer.

For junior botanists
At the south end of High Park, just north of Colbourne Lodge, sits the Children’s Garden and Children’s Teaching Kitchen of Toronto’s Children’s Eco Programs. The organization’s MO is to introduce kids to nature in the city. Parents can choose from a variety of program opportunities, including eco camp, PA day and March break camps as well as birthday parties, family drop-in hours, leadership training and more (teachers, there are class trip options too!). During program hours, kids will learn to relate to and observe nature, cultivate growth in the field and the gardens and learn to cook with fresh fruits and veggies.

Even if your child doesn’t aspire to be a farmer or a scientist, learning about the environment is going to be more and more crucial for generations to come.

Article exclusive to TRNTO