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Website Aims to Streamline Search for Kids' Extracurricular Classes

By DNAinfo Staff on January 9, 2013 8:33am

NEW YORK — When Lauren Pohl gave birth to her second child almost a year ago, she found scheduling and coordinating two kids' extracurricular needs to be nearly impossible.

"I couldn't figure out why it was so hard to find a ballet class on a Monday afternoon and a music class that wouldn't conflict," said Pohl, the mother of a 1-year-old boy and 3-year-old girl.

After chatting with other parents and finding that they had similar problems, Pohl decided in March to launch Kidz Central Station, a website that makes searching and signing up for children's courses as easy as the click of a mouse.

Though the free-to-use site went live in September in select areas — mainly so that Pohl could get parents' feedback — it's now expanding citywide and is slated to hit Brooklyn and other boroughs in February, she said.

More than 1,000 classes are listed on Kidz Central Station, from cooking to music to fashion design. Providers include both more prominent early education names — such as Gymboree and Kidville — and specialized indie schools like MoonSoup.

Some 2,500 parents have signed up, Pohl said.

Parents can begin the search process by selecting "class type," "age," and "neighborhood" from a drop-down menu on the main page. A special "drop in"-only option is also available for parents who might not have time to plan too far in advance, Pohl said.

Pohl plans on expanding to Long Island, New Jersey and Connecticut soon, too.

"You have a lot of parents in Manhattan who eventually move to the suburbs," Pohl said. "We're hoping they stay with us when they move."

Lauren Glasgold, an Upper East Side mom of a 7-month boy and a 2-year-old girl, said that she first heard about Kidz Central Station through word of mouth.

She was instantly hooked, she said.

"I thought it was a genius idea," Glasgold said. "My daughter is 2 1/2, and for two years I've been trying to schedule her for different classes. I thought that it was a great that it was all in a central location. Otherwise, you wind up Googling 'gymnastics classes on the Upper East Side' or 'kids classes' and you just kind of hope something comes up, or it's just word of mouth."

For Glasgold, Kidz Central Station also winds up being a logistical life-saver.

"People always say, 'Oh, have you heard of this group or that group?' Nine out of 10 times, they tell it to you in passing and you don't remember. It's great because you don't have to remember all those different things."

Glasgold also likes the site's format, which makes browsing and registration even easier over the course of several uses, she said.

"Once I signed up for one class, all I had to do was put in my login and password. My kids' information was already in there" she said, adding: "The idea that I can earn rewards points for classes is cool."

Dr. Heather Kaufman, a psychiatrist who lives in Midtown East, said Kidz Central Station is  "almost like magic.

"It's like one-stop shopping," she said. "It's so obvious that it should have existed and just didn't before. It's just one of those things that you don't even notice it because it's so natural."