Sylvia Braun, of North Merrick, practices pilates during an adult...

Sylvia Braun, of North Merrick, practices pilates during an adult continuing education classes offered at Brookside School in North Merrick. (Dec. 14, 2012) Credit: Steve Pfost

January is a time for fresh beginnings -- tackling a hobby you've always wanted to try (tai chi anyone?), perfecting an old one or just learning something new.

Courses in continuing education, sometimes called adult education, begin in the next few months, but now is the time to sign up. Many classes are offered through educational facilities, mostly school districts, but colleges also are a good source to find courses.

While there are plenty of continuing education programs that teach skills for a vocation, many are just for fun, from exercise programs to dance classes.

Not all school districts offer these programs, so check their websites to see if they do. If not, peruse sites of neighboring districts, which may allow nonresidents to join a class after residents have signed up -- though for a slightly higher fee. Colleges do not have residency requirements. Check their websites for information including registration deadlines. Here's a sampling of courses offered at learning institutions on Long Island.



If you think you have a way with words, you might want to check out classes at Hofstra University, where there is a heavy emphasis on writing.

"They are all Long Island-based published authors," said Debbi Honorof, continuing education program head, of the instructors. "We have a wide variety of courses in novel writing, poetry, personal essays, writing for the Web" and others. Most classes run $50 (a one-class course) to $250 (a full semester). Other courses are offered in languages, art, wine tasting and photography.

Hofstra will hold an open house from 10 a.m. to noon Jan. 12.

INFO 516-463-7200,



Stony Brook University's Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, a series of peer-taught workshops, are open to all who wish to attend lectures in a university setting. The current membership price of $290 allows one to take up to eight workshops in a school year -- September to June. Workshops meet five days a week, and attending events or field trips might be part of the curriculum. Current topics include figure drawing, advanced competitive bridge, the Eastern Roman Empire, literature, studying the universe and the history of England. Course selections are subject to change each semester. Registration ends Monday.

Stony Brook also allows seniors 60 and older to audit regular college courses. Fee is $50.

INFO 631-632-6554,



Bellmore-Merrick has a large continuing-education program, with classes ranging from drawing to guita, cooking to the Civil War or learning voice-over techniques for extra cash. Class fees are modest ($18-$60), with slightly higher prices for recreational sports.

"I don't know how you can't find a class," says Saul Lerner, director of the district's adult education program about the offerings.

INFO 516-992-1062,

At the Central Islip School District, the robust program includes beginning swimming for adults ($50), martial arts for kids ($50, and $20 for second child), computer skills classes in English and Spanish ($70) and professional voice-overs for extra cash ($15). There are also dance and exercise classes. Deadline for registration is Feb. 7, and nonresidents can enroll for a slightly higher fee.

"Every year, we try to do something a little different," says Elaine Medin, the program's director.

INFO 631-348-5112,

Comsewogue School District also has a comprehensive program, including financial seminars at no cost. Other classes include photography, art, knitting and crocheting that run from $20 for a single-session course to $90 for a full semester. There are SAT prep courses and tennis for kids, too.

INFO 631-474-8183,

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