Educational fun! 7 after-school classes to sign your kids up for

Whether it's sports, STEAM, or the arts, here are the best places in Shanghai that offer after-school programs.

By Nutsuda Edens

Photograph: Mikhail Nilov via Pexels

Back in the days, most of us would come home from school and turn on the TV. A few hours of Power Rangers or The Powerpuff Girls was basically our “after-school program”. Fast-forward to a few decades later and things have certainly changed. There’s so much variety these days when it comes to classes offered after school and on weekends. In a metropolitan city like Shanghai, there’s definitely no shortage of productive activities to help foster new skills that sometimes can’t be found in school. Whether it’s the arts, sports, or even the currently trending STEAM/STEM approach, here’s your guide to some of the best places in Shanghai that offer fun and educational after-school programs.

Photographs: courtesy The Pottery Workshop

If your little one enjoys playing with play-doh at home, why not take it up a notch and try the real thing? Quietly nestled in the usually busy Shaanxi Nan Lu area, The Pottery Workshop has been a household name in Shanghai for over 20 years. Here, kids get to explore the wonderful potential of clay as they are taught different building and finishing techniques such as pinching, underglazing, and slab building, just to name a few.

Pottery for many is therapeutic because it requires a mix of self-expression, patience, strategic planning, and not to mention dirty hands. At this studio, classes for kids are kept small (max. 6 students), which means instructors can closely mentor their little artists. The space is bright and open, setting the perfect tone for the experience. Each week offers a new theme such as spiral bowls, sculptures, mosaic cards, and magnets. One of the most exciting and rewarding things for students is of course coming back two weeks later to pick up the finished artwork that they created with their bare hands!

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The Pottery Workshop, 1A, Lane 180 Shaanxi Nan Lu. From 350 RMB/class. Suitable for 5 years and above. WeChat ID: pwssh_kids

Photographs: courtesy Craft'd

Nothing makes a day more cheerful than some arts and crafts. Since 2015, Craft’d, a cosy and vibrant studio located in the heart of the French Concession, has been rolling out craft and sewing workshops for kids and adults alike. However, don’t expect your kiddo to just be cutting and gluing paper together. Here at Craft’d, they’ll get to try cooler things like making slime, soap, and candles. The studio’s dollhouse-making workshop remains to this day one of their most popular and beloved workshops. Another signature workshop is the project-based sewing camps, where kids even get to sew their own summer dresses (and wear them of course).

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Practicing arts and crafts isn’t just about being messy (although that’s often a big and fun part of it). It also requires focus, patience, and tons of creativity, which is why lots of parents are big fans of Craft’d. The one-off workshops are held throughout the year while sewing camps are organized only a few times per year. There are also camps during long holidays and school breaks. So, to not miss an opportunity to unleash your child’s imagination, don’t forget to monitor the studio’s calendar for any upcoming classes.

Craft’d, 1F, Bldg 27, 103 Jianguo Zhong Lu. From 180 RMB/class. Suitable for 6 years and above. / WeChat ID: craftdshanghai

Photographs: courtesy Future Keys

Coding is unarguably one of the most useful skills to have this century. With experienced computer programmer, Sushil Lamba, at its helm, Future Keys, a S.T.E.A.M Education academy, is already educating and preparing hundreds of kids and teens in Shanghai for the new world, through a structured coding curriculum. No prior experience is needed and parents do not have to invest in expensive hardware. Perhaps you’re already familiar with jargons such as python, robotics, and VR. These are just some of the programs and technologies kids get to work with at Future Keys, and there’s so much more to discover.

In their “Arduino Robotics” class, one of the academy’s most popular, students are introduced to hardware programming through an open-source electronics platform. Sounds intimidating, right? It actually isn’t, because Future Keys understands the nature of kids and how they operate. Kids like technology, and not necessarily coding itself. Because of this, they adopt “Project-based” and “Problem-based” learning approaches, which seem to work really well. Step inside their school and you’ll already feel inspired, seeing the cool gadgets and gizmos the kids are working with, and how easy (and fun) they make everything look.

Future Keys, 7F, Jingting Seoul Plaza, 1000 Hongquan Lu. From 400 RMB/class. Suitable for 4 years and above. WeChat ID: futurekeys

Photographs: courtesy The Little Medical School

You can’t compile a list of after-school programs without mentioning The Little Medical School (LMS). Probably the only school of its kind in Shanghai, LMS educate children about the importance of health in a fun and entertaining way. Camps are open to kids and teens during weekends and school breaks, each with different themes such as animal medicine, sports medicine, nutrition, etc. For example, in the Little Doctor School, kids will learn all about first aid, the brain, the spine, and even some gross stuff in the human body, which they somehow seem to like. The “Surgery” class, in particular, has been a hit with teens, which teaches surgeries in different parts of the body. Kids will also get to practice with a real suture kit!

The classes are informative and engaging through demonstrations and role-play. Teachers are highly experienced and some even have medical backgrounds. The experience LMS offer is truly unique and beneficial for kids and hey, might even inspire a few to pursue a career in health and medicine one day. Contact the school directly for information about their upcoming camps. Do mention you’re a Time Out reader and get a 10% discount!

The Little Medical School, A109, 1F, 1559 Pudong Dadao (camps are held in various locations). From 370 RMB/class (for classes taught in English). Suitable for 4 years and above. WeChat ID: sammyagency

Capoeira, one of the fastest-growing forms of martial arts in the world, is available for kids to learn and practice in Shanghai! It has been immensely popular amongst kids worldwide, probably because it combines all the fun stuff; think martial arts, dance, acrobatics, and music all rolled into one. Under the leadership of Alex Maltsev, who has more than 13 years of experience in Capoeira, The Shanghai Center for Capoeira have been offering classes for kids since 2018.

Photographs: courtesy The Shanghai Center for Capoeira

No prior experience is needed. Learners just need to come with an open mind and be ready to move. Capoeira is perfect for kids because not only does it build up strength and endurance, and helps develop flexibility and coordination, but its emphasis on community also helps boost social as well as leadership skills. Classes for kids are available on Wednesdays and during the weekends. If you’re not sure what to expect, simply make an appointment and visit the studio to see the jam-packed fun and excitement for yourself.

The Shanghai Center for Capoeira, Room 615, JOGO Space, 928 Xikang Lu. From 250 RMB/class. Suitable for 4.5 years and above. WeChat ID: magazeta

Photographs: courtesy DEFGROUP

If you’re into martial arts, DEFGROUP is a name you’re probably already familiar with. Founded in Shanghai in 2017, DEFGROUP is a leading sports and exercise facility that combines martial arts, fitness, and entertainment. What’s even cooler is they offer weekend classes for kids at three of their gyms across Shanghai.

Whether it’s Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Muay Thai, or boxing, kids will not only break a sweat but also learn all sorts of neat things like self-discipline, focus, and social skills, not to mention the tons of fun they’ll be having. Each class consists of roughly 20 students and tend to fill up quickly so do inquire if interested!

DEFGROUP, B1, 1777 Shiji Dadao, with three other locations. From 300 RMB/class. Suitable for 4 years and above. WeChat official account & mini-program: DEFGROUP

Photographs: courtesy Little Kickers

Even kids as young as pre-schoolers can learn to bend it like Beckham these days. Little Kickers, which originated in the UK, offer football classes to kids as young as 18 months. What’s stellar about their teaching philosophy is they integrate quality football skills with key pre-school learning concepts, such as color and number recognition, sharing, following instructions, and use of imagination.

Kids are there to have fun above anything else and can enjoy playing football in a stress-free environment. Classes are held both indoors and outdoors, depending on the location, and split based on age group. For students with a solid foundation that show a readiness for the next level, they can even be promoted to a higher intensity class called “Match Training Class”, which focuses more on tactical training. Whether your tiny athlete is aiming to go pro or just wants to have fun and be active, do check out this amazing football school.

Little Kickers, 168 Shunchang Lu, with 7 other locations. From 100 RMB/trial class. Suitable for 1.5–8 years. WeChat ID: lkshlovekids or official account: LittleKickers球小星上海