Photo Credit: Thinkstock

After-school activities can be extremely beneficial for children — a new study shows that students who participate in after-school activities perform better academically. And getting the whole family involved only adds to the benefits. With a new school year just barely underway, now is as good a time as any to explore activities for the whole family. And while there are plenty of things you can do from the comfort of home, Pittsburgh also has a lot to offer, whether you’re looking for an educational opportunity in the form of a class or a way to kick back and unwind after a long day. Here are five of the best after-school activities for families in Pittsburgh.

Kathy’s Music
300 Mt. Lebanon Blvd.
Pittsburgh, PA 15234
(412) 344-0535

Kathy’s Music is known for its Kindermusik program, with private lessons and music classes catering to young children and mommy-and-me-type classes — but they also offer classes with more family inclusion. Their Family Time class is open to children up to age five and their families and is “designed to be a place where parents can come and enjoy their kids without having to plan every minute.” The 45-minute class is held weekly, with a new theme every four weeks, and you can enroll at any time. Fall tuition runs $59 a month for the first child. And don’t worry if you miss a class — you can always make it up. And with their tell-a-friend bonus running through Sept. 30, you and a friend can both get $15 off October classes.

Jewish Community Center
5738 Forbes Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15217
(412) 521-8010

Pittsburgh’s Jewish Community Center — with locations in both Squirrel Hill and the South Hills — has numerous programs for people of all ages covering a variety of interests. Their family events include such things as holiday celebrations, kayak nights, cookouts and more, including Fun Weekends a few times a year and a Family Snow Ball, so be on the lookout for the perfect activity that suits your family. And best of all, everyone is welcome.

Sweetwater Center for the Arts
200 Broad St.
Sewickley, PA 15243
(412) 741-4405

For creative families, try Sweetwater Center for the Arts, which recently celebrated its 40th anniversary and offers programs in the visual, performing, literary and culinary arts — this fall’s classes suitable for families include a weaving class. In addition to numerous classes for both kids and adults alike, Sweetwater also offers numerous community outreach programs, which in the past has included a family night in Coraopolis and Yuletide in Sewickley for Christmas. For a full list of available classes, visit their website and take a look at the class catalog.

Related: 5 Traditions To Start Your Back To School Routine

Wildwood Highlands
2330 Wildwood Road
Wildwood, PA 15091
(412) 487-5517

Looking to have a little fun as opposed to taking a class? Check out Wildwood Highlands, which offers plenty of activities for the whole family year-yound, such as an indoor playground, bumper cars, laser tag and more. They also offer family specials, which include food, drinks, gameroom tokens, and attraction tickets, as well as other specials throughout the year. Plus it’s a great place to host a party. From Labor Day until Memorial Day, Wildwood Highlands is open until 10 p.m. on weekends and 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday.

National Aviary
700 Arch St.
Pittsburgh, PA 15212
(412) 323-7235

Stop by the National Aviary, the country’s only independent indoor nonprofit zoo dedicated solely to birds, for an interactive educational experience. Take the whole family out to see their exhibits — including a baby sloth — and even enjoy animal feedings and other interactive activities such as Penguin Painting, Flamingo Frolic and the Butterfly Garden, which runs during the summer. For some activities, you can even choose your time.

Related: Best Old School Arcades In Pittsburgh

Janelle Sheetz is a 20-something closed-captioner by day, writer by night, just outside of Pittsburgh. She also regularly contributes to and, and her writing has also been featured on The Billfold and Neutrons Protons.