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While thoughts of high school foreign language classes may send shivers down your spine, the opportunity to learn a new language in a fun environment will have your little ones jumping for joy. Kids actually learn new languages much faster than adults. In fact, the younger, the better! Check out these classes that will open up a whole new world of words to your young linguist.

Yak Academy Photo Credit: Yak Academy

Yak Academy
Using play-based immersion techniques, Yak Academy creates a fun environment where kids naturally absorb language through song, movement and activities such as arts and crafts. Students are able to learn at their own pace, in a non-traditional environment. Options include a preschool program, enrichment and “Toddler and Me” classes. Languages Offered: Spanish and Mandarin

Word of the Day: Libre! Yak Academy offers “libre” (meaning free in Spanish) trial classes, as well as sibling and military discounts.

Cost: $118/month for ages 3 and above; $100/month for “Toddler & Me” class; $50 Registration Fee (ages: 1-10)

9939 Hibert St., Suite 105
San Diego, Ca 92131
(858) 679 7760

Language Door 3 Photo Credit: Language Door Facebook Page

Language Door
From Arabic to Vietnamese — and many languages in between — Language Door provides a wide variety of choices for your kiddo to explore. Native speaking teachers engage students during small group sessions of three to four students. Kids’ classes meet once per week for an hour for eight weeks in order to allow time for the understanding of each lesson and to complete homework. Languages Offered: 20+ languages

Word of the Day: Eenvoudig. Language Door always offers the next level of your language at the same date and time, keeping your scheduling “eenvoudig” (meaning simple in Dutch).

Cost: $199 - $239/session 
7380 Clairemont Mesa Blvd. Suite 202A
San Diego, Ca 92111
(858) 888-3509

Brilliant Foreign Language EducationPhoto Credit: BFLE Facebook Page

Brilliant Foreign Language Education
In the heart of the Otay Ranch neighborhood of Chula Vista, you will find the Brilliant Foreign Language Education (BFLE) center. While primarily offering classes in Mandarin, BFLE has expanded its language options since recently opening its doors. Flexible hours, qualified teachers and small group sessions for grades pre-K, K-6, and 6-12 make finding a perfect class for your family easy. Even better, classes start right away so there is no need to wait for a new session to begin, simply call to schedule. Languages Offered: Spanish, Mandarin, French and Japanese

Word of the Day: 社區 – BFLE loves giving back to its 社區 (Chinese for community) by offering free classes once a month at neighboring Heritage Park Recreation Center.

Cost: $10/class, $30 registration fee per family (ages: 4+)
1392 E. Palomar St. Suite 408
Chula Vista, Ca 91913
(619) 721-6552

Lingua Natal Photo Credit: Lingua Natal Facebook Page

Lingua Natal
Lingua Natal Center’s Origin™ curriculum provides a learning experience based upon a child’s natural curiosity. Lena Sisson, founder of Lingua Natal, has learned that for kids, language learning is the result of a dynamic blend of continual language stimulation, joyous interaction with native people, culture, new sounds and loving encouragement. The center offers programs for six age groups, including Year Round (Beginner to Proficiency), Camps (Summer, Winter and Spring), Home Groups and Enrichment. Languages Offered: French, Spanish and Mandarin

Word of the Day: Thème – Each 8-week session is based upon a thème (French for theme), such as The Solar System and Rain Forests, to keep kids engaged throughout the year.

Cost: Varies by Program (ages: 1-12)
1104 Garden View Rd.
Encinitas, Ca 92024
(619) 585-5269


Italian American AcademyPhoto Credit: Italian American Academy Facebook Page

Italian Cultural Center
The Italian Cultural Center in Little Italy offers a fun and relaxing environment to learn Italian, whether you are 2 or 102. Their Parent and Me classes, provided by the Italian American Academy, allows you and your toddler to learn in a fun-filled class of movement, songs and games. Introducing children early to the sounds of the Italian language allows them to develop pronunciation and conversion skills right along with their parent. Language Offered: Italian

Word of the Day: Cucina – The kitchen becomes a classroom for linguists and little chefs, ages 5-8, during cucina (Italian for cooking) classes that are offered each quarter.  

Cost: $150/session; $180/Parents & Me or Italian Cooking (ages: 2 – 14)
1669 Columbia St.
San Diego, Ca 92101
(619) 237-0601

Have you tried foreign language classes with your kids? Which ones do you recommend? Tell us in the comments!

— Roxanne Holmes

4 Ways to Start Your Own Family Holiday Traditions

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year, yet the steady stream of sale flyers and myriad of holiday activities may leave you feeling a bit overwhelmed and sympathetic to Mr. Grinch. That’s why we put together a few suggestions for your family to create fun traditions that will make your heart grow three sizes this holiday season.

Home DepotPhoto Credit: Home Depot Kids Workshop Facebook Page 

Get Crafty
Turn your kids into Santa’s elves by helping them build their own holiday craft. Visit your local home improvement center to take part in fun and free workshops designed for kids. Little builders receive a craft kit, apron and extra goodies at these two workshops.

Build a Holiday Train Engine
Lowes Build and Grow Workshop
Dec. 13, 10 – 11 a.m.

Register: Online (pre-registration opens Dec. 1)
Ages: Kiddos in grades 1 – 5 Cost: Free

Create Holiday Yard Steaks
Home Depot Kids Workshop
Dec. 6, 9 a.m. – 12 p.m.

Register: Online (registration now available)
Ages: 5 – 12
Cost: Free

Bates Nut FarmPhoto Credit: Bates Nut Farm Facebook Page 

Festivities on the Farm
Some of your favorite places to visit transform during the holidays. Enjoy fresh air (and a fresh perspective) on these local farms with celebrations geared to bring out the kid in all of us.

Christmas in the Valley
While you may be familiar with Bates Nut Farm during the fall, be sure to visit them in December for offerings that go beyond their famous pumpkins. The 3rd annual Christmas in the Valley event features live entertainment, storytelling, Christmas carols and a Polar Express hayride to visit Santa.

Bates Nut Farm
15954 Woods Valley Rd.
Valley Center, CA 92082

Dec. 12, 4 – 8 p.m. and Dec. 13, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Cost: Free

Holiday at the Rancho
Swap out the partridge in a pear tree for a peacock in a palm tree when you visit the historic Leo Carrillo Ranch for Holiday at the Rancho. Holiday lights, decor, a snow hill, and their festive peacocks set the tone during this event. Kids can decorate holiday cookies, create crafts, enjoy holiday entertainment and pony rides. Face painting, an outdoor movie and a special visit by Santa are also included.

Leo Carrillo Ranch
6200 Flying LC Ln.
Carlsbad, Ca 92009

Dec. 6, 5 – 8 p.m.
Cost: $8 at the door; $5 pre-sale tickets (through Dec. 6); Free for kids 3 and under

KidsCookingPhoto Credit: WoodleyWonderWorks via Creative Commons Flickr 

Recipe for a Tasty Tradition
What better way to come together as a family than over a delicious seasonal treat. Whether you are teaching your kids how to make a recipe that has been passed down over generations, or you are learning a new dish, cooking together is a tradition you can look forward to each year. If you’re looking for inspiration, try one of these cooking class options that are geared toward kids.

Williams-Sonoma Junior Chef Classes
Williams-Sonoma offers free classes that focus on teaching kids delicious recipes, from main courses to desserts and snacks. In December, the store offers a gingerbread house decorating class. Call your local store to save a spot; class size is limited.

Westfield’s UTC and Fashion Valley Mall

Dec. 6, 10 a.m.
Cost: Free instruction plus cost of materials
Ages: 5–13

Olivewood Garden’s Family Dinner Night
Your family can work together to prepare a seasonal meal. Olivewood Gardens highlights age-appropriate, easy, wholesome recipes that everyone will enjoy. The Family Dinner Night is designed to allow families to create and converse over a delicious meal. RSVP to reserve a seat at this fabulous dinner.

Olivewood Garden
2525 N. Ave.
National City, Ca 91950

Dec. 4, 3:30 – 7 p.m.
Ages: 5 and up
Cost: $25/person

BonfirePhoto Credit: Colby Stopa via Creative Commons Flickr

Create S’more Memories
Forget about chestnuts, this year s’mores will be roasting on an open fire during Bonfire Nights in Old Town State Historic Park. This fun and free event takes place on multiple nights throughout December, and features carols, performers and of course marshmallows, chocolate and graham crackers. So bundle up and head down to Old Town to create wonderful memories with your little ones around the warmth of the fire.

Old Town State Historic Park
4002 Wallace St.
San Diego, Ca 92110

Dec. 13, 14, 26–30, Dusk to 9 p.m.
Cost: Free

What family traditions does your family enjoy during the holidays? Tell us in the comments!

— Roxanne Holmes

Endless Summer: 4 Ways to Extend Your Fun in the Sun

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While summer may be coming to a close, some of San Diego’s best weather won’t be going away any time soon. As the tourists head home, now’s the perfect time for your family to become sightseers in your own backyard. So if you’re looking for some summer fun this Labor Day weekend and beyond, grab the kiddos and try one of these San Diego adventures.

imperial beachPhoto credit: Joy M. via Yelp

Hit the Beach
Nothing says summer like a day in the sun and the sand. While many of the most frequented beaches call North County home, look to the South Bay to build your next sandcastle. Imperial Beach, nestled between the Silver Strand and the Tijuana Estuary, welcomes visitors to this classic Southern California surf town with its vibrant “Surfhenge” public art sculpture. Stop by the Portwood Pier Plaza area that offers clean beaches, picnic areas, a tot-lot, and grassy expanses. Don’t forget to stop by throughout the year when Imperial Beach hosts fun events such as the Surf Dog Competition and the Sea and Sun Festival sandcastle building contest.

Tourist Tip: At the end of your fun-filled day, stop in for an ice cream treat at Cowabunga, or watch the sunset from the end of the pier while dining over the ocean at the Tin Fish restaurant.

Imperial Beach Pier
10 Evergreen Ave.
Imperial Beach, Ca 91932

Coronado Ferry LandingPhoto credit: Roxanna Holmes

Island Getaway
If you are looking for an escape, now is a great opportunity to make your way to an island — Coronado island, that is. To truly feel like you are a tourist for the day, hop on the Coronado Ferry at the Broadway Pier or Convention Center and take the scenic ride across the bay for $4.25 each way (kids 4 and under are free). Once across, your family will arrive at the Coronado Ferry Landing, a waterfront marketplace full of more than 25 unique shops and restaurants. Visit the family-friendly beach, try your hand at pier fishing, or journey along along the Bayshore Bikeway during your stay.

Tourist Tip: Grab your bikes before you head out to explore, the Coronado Ferry allows the transport of bikes for no extra charge.

Coronado Ferry Landing
1201 1st St.
Coronado, Ca 92118


AquaticaPhoto credit: Roxanna Holmes

Slip and Slide
If you want to slip and slide through your remaining days of summer, San Diego’s water parks offer fun in the sun for many weeks to come. Both the Legoland Legends of Chima Water Park and Aquatica in Chula Vista are open into the fall. Kids will love splashing in the wave pool, floating down a lazy river, or racing you down the twists and turns of a major slide. Moms will love the lack of crowds since the water park visitors tend to decrease once school starts.

Tourist Tip: While you may love taking a plunge, your phone won’t. If you’re planning to photograph the water adventures, consider purchasing a waterproof pouch designed to keep your phone and essentials dry until you are safely back on “shore.”

2052 Entertainment Circle 
Chula Vista, Ca 91911
Open weekends through September
Price: $40/ adults; $34/ kids ages 3-9; Free/ kids under 3
Legoland Water Park
1 Legoland Dr.
Carlsbad, Ca 92008
Price: You must also purchase an admission to Legoland in order to access the water park.
Open weekends through October

Balboa Park SurreyPhoto credit: Roxanna Holmes

Park It
Balboa Park is the quintessential San Diego tourist destination. But there are new things to discover even for the frequent visitor. Test your pedal power by renting a surrey to explore the park. Wheel Fun Rental, located near the Casa Del Prado Theatre, encourages park exploration with your choice of vehicles, including surreys,deuce coupes, and tandem bicycles. After you have worked up an appetite, stop by Panama 66. The park’s newest eatery, located within The San Diego Museum of Art open air courtyard, is currently serving lunch on weekdays (11 a.m. to 3 p.m.), and weekend brunch (10 a.m. to 3 p.m.). The entire family will be re-energized by the locally-sourced food, local draught beer, and an appetizing kids menu.

Tourist Tip: Don’t limit yourself to just one museum! Balboa Park’s new Explorer Pass gives you access to more than 17 Balboa Park institutions all within one pass. It’s a great deal if you plan to visit the Park more than once.

Balboa Park
1549 El Prado
San Diego, Ca 92101

How do you like to spend your days soaking up the sun in San Diego? Let us know in the comments section.

– Roxanna Holmes