Family Box is Beijing’s one-stop recreation center for kids of all ages. Within the high-tech white cube that serves as its exterior lies room after room of modern play equipment imported from the UK. Combining sports, education and entertainment, Family Box is the perfect place for kids (ages 0-12) to learn and play. It’s for these reasons that Family Box attracts families from all over Beijing, including local celebrities and their tots. The teaching staff of 15 includes seven qualified foreign teachers from the US, the UK, South Africa and Australia, as well as Chinese teaching assistants to help with translation. Parents are encouraged to experience Family Box together with their children, and there are plenty of helpful bilingual staff members to guide moms and dads through the center. With 6,000sqm to run around in, children will be amazed and amused, happy to explore for hours on end.
Parents and children can bond, learn and grow together in one of Family Box’s many classes. Based on the UK Early Years Foundation Stage, classes include arts and crafts, cookery, ballet, creative dance, music, story time and rhyme time. All classes and materials provided are in English. Weekly themes tie the assortment of classes together. Classes are divided according to age, allowing children to learn and socialize with their peers. In cookery classes, motor development skills are emphasized by rolling, mixing and even grating food. In the past, delectable creations have included pizza, quiche, chocolate chip muffins and orange crunch cookies. In arts and crafts class, students get creative using colors, shapes and numbers while developing fine and gross motor skills.
American Kate Melillo, a licensed early education teacher, enjoys working outside the traditional school day at Family Box. She adds, "I’m excited to see it grow. It is a different approach to education. The concept is current, innovative and incorporates play. Parents are intrigued by the concept and appreciate the diversity outside of traditional Chinese schooling. Age groups are appealing and they help target the needs of the children."
Family Box holds an exclusive partnership with the UK Swimming Teachers Association (STA) and their indoor pool meets strict STA standards. The pool is kept warm at 31-34̊C and the water is recycled every hour with ozone water treatment (a chlorine-free process) – that’s six times more frequently than the average public pool. STA-certified head swimming coach Julie-Ann James has over 25 years of poolside teaching experience and has taught the children of former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair and soccer player Thierry Henri. The other five swimming STA-certified coaches are former professional swimmers, and were trained by James. Led by James, Baby Fish and Little Fish swimming courses cater to babies (0-2 years old) and children aged 2 to 6 years old. To help young swimmers build confidence, trust and communication skills, parents are encouraged to swim together with their children in the Fish Family class. Expect to see swimming courses for pregnant women, as well as swimming acrobatics for parents and kids in the near future. Aside from the range of classes, special services include underwater photography by scuba-certified swimmers and swimming parties supervised by professional teachers.
Beijing native Wang Yang brings her 1-year-old son to Family Box almost every day and has recommended the center to many friends. "The programs are great, especially swimming. My son likes the environment and the atmosphere. It’s a big space for him to play," says Yang. When asked about her son’s favorite play area, Yang didn’t hesitate: "The Monkey Frame." This three-story structure is a labyrinth of padded fun, from ball showers to tunnels to a web of bridges. Highlights of the Monkey Frame include a ball pit, a mini-climbing wall, trampolines, and a six-lane slide. Designed to meet the standards of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents in the UK, the Monkey Frame is as safe as it is fun.
Other play areas include My Cocoon, a sensory room for little ones; Sandy Fun sand box; and Water Play, a wet environment with equipment imported from the Science Museum in London. At Water Play, kids can play with water wheels and pumps, bath toys and even child-sized bubbles. Mini Mart is a mock grocery store for kids to experience purchasing fruit and other groceries in a safe, environment. A Mickey Mouse-themed soft play area for babies to crawl and explore is currently under construction.
Parties and Events
Private rooms are available for children’s birthday parties. Party themes include Sweet Princess, Little Mermaid and Pirate. Guests can enjoy playtime in Family Box’s general play areas, including Monkey Frame. Additional party services include catering, party decorations, photography, and performances by a clown or magician.
Family Box also hosts school trips and kid-friendly events. Recent events include Forest Day, to help teach kids about the environment and Sleeping Day, a day devoted to understanding how to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Parents can reserve the VIP room to meet friends or special guests. In addition, members can join Parent’s Club and attend adults-only events, such as first-aid training.
A small snack bar will replenish you with water (RMB 6), milk (RMB 12), fresh juice or coffee (starting at RMB 22) and fruit tea (RMB 18). Snacks include cake (RMB 20), Kinder Egg chocolate (RMB 20), Peperami salami stick (RMB 5) and pomegranates (RMB 20 each). Members receive discounts on food purchases. A family restaurant on the lower floor offering organic food is scheduled to open in June.
Visit Family Box for a quick tour or contact the center to set up an appointment with an educational consultant and experience a trial class.
Daily 9am-8pm. 51 Wangjing North Street, Building 4, Chaoyang District
One-day pass for two adults and one child is RMB 320 (excludes access to the pool).
Seasonal, half-year and one-year membership cards are available.
One-year, 48 classes (45-50 min each), price available upon request