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Long Island kids try home activity lessons for private after-school fun

William "Buddy" Chwick gives at-home tumbling lessons to

William "Buddy" Chwick gives at-home tumbling lessons to Ella Cifuentes, 13, of Sayville, in her backyard on Sept. 14. Credit: Newsday/Steve Pfost

With the coronavirus raising question marks daily, some parents still want to be as cautious as possible, and so they are trying to make their children’s extracurricular activities extra safe.

Tammy Fusco of Hauppauge, for instance, hired a tumbling instructor to give her 9-year-old daughter private lessons at her home with three of her daughter’s friends. "This is great that due to the pandemic, there are other avenues for lessons," says Fusco, who is concerned for her 90-year-old mother, who lives with the family.

Here are a four activities that kids can enjoy in the privacy — and safety — of their own home, without being limited to a "virtual" option:

LEARN TO COOK

Kids can learn to make simple meals such as fresh pasta or homemade ravioli, bake desserts such as pie and even tackle breadmaking in their own kitchens with Lisa Basini, owner of The Baking Coach in Huntington. She brings most of the ingredients — families provide only what needs to be refrigerated.

"Home is the best place to learn because you’re on your own playing field," Basini says. "You have your own rolling pin or your own pans … It’s much more conducive to learning because that’s where you are going to recreate it."

Lessons (631-543-8608; bakingcoach.com) are $150 for the first hour and $100 for each additional hour and can accommodate two students, Basini says. "The kitchen is instant gratification," Basini says. Recipes also teach kids more than just cooking skills. "What do I need math for? What do I need to read this for? Why do I care about a chemical reaction?" Basini says.

LEARN TO PLAY CHESS

One-to-one at-home chess lessons offer the advantage of catering directly to a student’s level of expertise, say private instructors. "With group lessons, you teach to the average kid. One-on-one, it’s 100% tailored to the student," says Nicholas Figorito, 24, of Bohemia (631-357-0611), who has been offering private lessons for six years and has worked with Long Island Chess Nuts and Syosset Chess Mates. Brian Karen of Levittown (516-972-1909), who has given lessons since 1998 and who has taught chess at Usdan Summer Camp for the Arts and the Long Island School for the Gifted, says in private lessons, students can go over games by famous players, review opening moves to get pieces out on the board and prepare for tournament play. At-home lessons are generally 50 minutes and the going rate is $70, instructors say.

LEARN TO PLAY AN INSTRUMENT

Violin, piano, voice lessons — Seventh Street Music offers a panoply of home instruction. Don’t have an instrument? Seventh Street (917-387-4516; seventhstreetmusic.com) can rent you one until you’re sure your child likes it enough to invest in a purchase. Teachers throughout Long Island offer woodwind, brass, percussion and vocal lessons to all levels of students.

Rates vary, but as a general rule, they run about $45 for 30 minutes or $65 for one hour. Seventh Street has been in business since 2013, says owner Diana Lambert. "Children are more comfortable at home, and if they’re matched with the right teacher, they can go further than they thought they could," Lambert says. When learning at home, there aren’t outside factors distracting their focus, she says.

LEARN TO DO A BACK WALKOVER

If gymnastics is something that interests your child, William "Buddy" Chwick of Medford (631-542-2782) has been giving private lessons since 2005. "I work from beginner up to advanced and elite," Chwick says, charging $35 for 30 minutes of instruction in floor gymnastics including tumbling, forward roll, handstands, back handsprings, back walkovers and more.

Says Tara Longhito of Selden, whose daughter KaDee, 16, is a competitive cheerleader who has been taking lessons with Chwick for about a year: "You're able to see how she's setting up and preparing and executing, and you have more time for cleaning up their technique."

Some parents get a handful of children together for private group lessons; Tammy Fusco of Hauppauge, for instance, has him come to her home to teach her daughter, Caroline, 9, and three of her friends. "He makes it fun," she says of Chwick.

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