Gymboree Play & Music: Local Classes Make Growing Up Fun

When Jennifer McConchie of Lexington sought an activity for her 3-month-old daughter Claire, she followed the recommendation of a friend and signed up for a Play & Learn class at Gymboree.

Jennifer quickly discovered that this was not only an effective class for Claire’s development, but it served her as a new mom as well.

“I found other moms and it was like a sounding board and support group for me,” she said.

And Claire, now 13 months, was a big fan of the classes, too. “She really likes the music,” her mother said. “I’ve watched her pick up tempo and beats. It’s really rewarding for both of us.”

That is the response Gymboree owner Robin Tucker seeks. Tucker is a trained pediatric occupational therapist and opened Gymboree in Lexington in 2003.

She was one of Gymboree’s first customers with her daughters Ella and Mackenzie, now 8 and 10 years old. Her son Tylan is 12.

“I’ve been a mommy, not just a teacher at Gymboree,” Tucker said. “And I was a satisfied mommy.”

It’s the Gymboree program that pleases parents and kids. Based on childhood development principles, age-appropriate classes develop motor, cognitive, social, sensory and language skills. They also build self-confidence, social skills and emotional awareness.

With six teachers, Gymboree offers four types of programs for kids from birth to 5 years old. The core program is Play & Learn classes.  Led by a trained Gymboree teacher, children play with their parents or caregivers in a large gym filled with wooden slides and ladders, foam barrels, wedges and mats, and inflatable tubes, balls and logs.

Classes last 45 minutes with activities changing every few minutes. Every two weeks the configuration of the gym is changed to provide 18 different lessons.

Each activity and transition is accompanied by a song, adding one more facet to the program.

Although each class has a lesson plan designed to encourage age-appropriate development, kids are allowed to make their own choices. “We are a ‘yes’ environment,” Tucker said.

The last 15 minutes of each class is spent in “parachute time.” Children and their parents sit in a circle around a 20-foot colorful parachute while playing with bubbles, singing songs and “flying” the parachute up into the air.

Class ends when “Gymbo,” a puppet and stuffed clown in various sizes, comes out.

Gymboree also offers art and music classes, open gym times, a Global Kids program emphasizing international cultures, and a school readiness class, which is a drop-off class for up to 10 children, 3 to 5 years old. It is taught by two teachers and lasts two hours.

The music classes teach 18 different music styles with 12 different instruments so children learn the building blocks of music, including rhythm, tone, pitch and movement.

Customized birthday party packages are also offered.

Tucker knows from experience that Gymboree meets parents’ needs.

“Parents tell me, ‘I don’t know what I’d do without you. You keep me sane. You taught me about my child.’ That’s what makes it all worth it,” Tucker said.

Info: or 278-4386. Gymboree is located at 4383 Old Harrodsburg Rd. Ste. 145 in the South Elkhorn Village.