I have three kids, and they’re the best thing that’s ever happened to me. But you know what? They also drive me crazy like no one else in the world can. If you’ve never thought that before about your own kids – well, I’d venture to guess you don’t have any! Owning a kids education business isn’t much different. Some days it’s “Who IS this spoiled brat?!?”, and other days, it’s “Wow, these kids are AMAZING!”. Like having real kids, the positive rewards of a Kids Ed business can certainly outweigh the negatives you’ll face. But unlike having real kids, you might actually make some money instead of spending it on the latest fidget spinners or doll craze!

I’ve been in the Kids Ed business for over 5 years now, having bought a School of Rock franchise (teaching kids to play rock music in a performance setting) and having created my own franchise system, the Coder School (teaching kids to program computers). I’d say you learn a thing or two after having thousands of kids – angels, brats, geniuses, OCD, ADD, even two blind kids – go through your schools. While I haven’t owned a restaurant, cleaning service, or retail business before, I can safely say there are a few things that make a Kids Ed business different.

So let’s dig into what makes a Kids Ed business the oxymoron that makes you love it but hate it too. Along the way, I’ll hopefully give you a sense of what it feels like to own one, and maybe even help you see if it’s right for you.

It’s Usually a Straightforward Business Model

Whether you’re teaching music, kung fu, or coding, these businesses usually have a pretty straightforward business model. There’s no food to spoil, no inventory to manage, no secret formulas to keep… Often, your main costs come down to labor and rent.

In my two schools, it’s about as straightforward as you can get. Parents pay a monthly fee at the start of the month, and I pay our instructors and coaches as they spend their time teaching kids. Add on a little bit of equipment here and there, and it’s a pretty simple business model.

Now does that mean the business is easy? Heck no! It means you’re focusing on other things, like quality, marketing, or scheduling – and especially customer relationships.

It’s All About the Parents. Oh yeah, the kids too.

Speaking of customer relationships, it’s uber-important in Kids Ed. When I first opened my Coder School, I spent almost the entire 5 hours we were open each day just chatting with parents and getting to know them. The kids are who you’re teaching – but your clients are really the parents. When they get to know you as a person, and trust that you’re taking care of their kid, it goes a long, long way towards customer retention (and it’s fun, too!).

I’ll give you a great example – my son’s dentist. This is a guy that I see maybe once every 6 months for about 2 minutes each time. Twice now, I’ve seen him outside of his office – once in a restaurant, and once at the airport – and both times he came up to me and said “Hey Hansel, how’s it going?”. My response? “Hey… there… guy… (and who are you again??)”! Here’s a guy who has hundreds of kids as patients, sees me for a few minutes a year, and he remembers my name when we’re outside his office. I’ll tell you what, I have no idea what he does to my kid’s teeth, but to me, he’s the best dentist in the world. VIP Customer Service – lots of effort, but worth its weight in gold!

Camps are nuts. Good nuts.

Many Kids Ed businesses will also run camps during the summer, and sometimes during holiday breaks as well. And – they’re nuts. Imagine a big group of kids stuck in a small-ish confined space for 6 hours a day, and you can picture the chaos that can ensue. There’s more breakage, more wear and tear, more bathroom usage – you name it, there’s an exponential amount of it when compared to the normal after school business. By the end of the summer, only the most patient of us aren’t praying for an early end to the camp season!

But camps aren’t just nuts – they’re GOOD nuts. Why? Because they can be pretty profitable! Summer camps double as day care for the busy parent who doesn’t have someone to watch their kids during the day, so there’s really a double-reason for good demand. Depending on the part of the country, some camps can charge upwards of $600-$1000 for a week of camp – that’s some serious camping!

Not all Kids Ed businesses can support camps, of course. Kumon or Mathnasium come to mind. Others like martial arts may or may not be strong camp contenders. STEM and Coding Camps these days are some of the higher-demand camps. So make sure you check your franchise business model – if it includes camps, there’s a good chance they’ll give your projections a boost.

Want a big emotional reward? You might find it.

Ever get tears in your eyes from a great taco? Goose bumps from a treadmill session? Probably not. But when you’re dealing with a kid education business, there’s a different emotional factor involved because they’re kids. Kids can do the most amazing things that can wow you like no adult can. I remember my first year at Coder School, there was an 11 year old kid who created a billiards game in Python. But instead of hitting a cue ball, you create gravitational anomalies that suck the cue ball towards it, using actual newtonian physics formulas. Now I’m a pretty good coder, been coding for 20 years. When I looked at his code, and I had no idea how it worked – that’s when I knew we were doing something special. Chills. Still feel ’em!

Helping kids get better at something is helping our next generation and helping our communities, so that in itself lends to some major gratification. Add on watching the kids grow and learn before your very eyes, and you’ll have something that can add up to an amazing emotional reward.

You Might Work Some Weird Hours

One of the negatives of managing a Kids Ed business is the hours they’re usually open. During the day, kids are usually at school – so most kids ed businesses aren’t open until school is out. That means your working hours are often 1-3pm doing admin work and then actually managing the business from 3pm-8pm. For you late-waker-uppers, starting work at 1pm might sound pretty cool. But for many of us who have kids, the working hours just happen to coincide with the hours you’d normally spend with your own kids. There are ways around it, no doubt (open on certain days, hire extra help, bring your kids to work), but it’s certainly a bit of a sacrifice. In fact, I recall that sacrifice being the hardest part of my first year as manager at both my School of Rock and Coder School – I just didn’t have a lot of time to spend with my own kids in the beginning.

So Is Kids Ed Right For You?

It depends. We’re not all built for the chaos of a big group of kids, but some of us thrive on it, and the rewards of helping kids. There are a lot more nuances to running a kids business like safety and insurance, the space and the staff, or even its potential for being somewhat recession resistant. So what’s the best way to find out if a Kids Ed franchise is right for you? Easy – just pick one and contact ’em. Good luck – we parents will thank you for it!

In this article we’ll discuss some ways to introduce and teach your 6 and under youngster how to code. Before we begin, let’s first make it clear that it’s actually absolutely fine not to teach your 6 year old coding. There’s plenty of other things that a 6 year old is still trying to learn such as reading, basic math, or even riding a bike.  But we know some parents might like to get a head start – so we thought why not write about it.

I have two daughters ages 4 and 6 so I have some relevant real world experience. Neither is currently actively learning to code. I did introduce my oldest to Minecraft when she requested it. She had some fun building structures in it, but then lost interest and I have not forced it. When she’s ready again, maybe next year, we’ll try it again, perhaps with a drag n’ drop platform. Of course if your child shows an interest and is a bit ahead of the curve with their reading and math, by all means, it’s a great idea to introduce them to coding via some very fun and engaging tools.Remember at this early an age, your kid probably won’t even be able to type well enough to learn any typed language coding. Also, keep in mind their cognitive development level and ability to process logic is still forming. At this young of an age, here’s a few ways to give them some exposure and introduce them to coding concepts.

Drag n’ Drop

The drag n’ drop coding platforms are a great way to go for young kids. These platforms remove the need to be able to type and any frustrations from syntax requirements, and can be good for even older kids.  MIT’s Scratch is one of the most popular of these languages – but generally we don’t tend to recommend that for the really young since there’s quite a bit of functionality to it.  For the under 6 set, we recommend a more contained version like Scratch Jr. or Hopscotch.  These are great iPad apps to get started, and are fairly self-driven and colorful with a simpler set of commands.

Engaging Logic Sites

There are many great logic sites for the youngster, but a couple of our favorites are:

1. Kodable (www.kodable.com) – This is a fun site for the youngsters to learn basic logic through fun logic challenges where they have to provide the steps and directions to navigate themselves from a starting point to an end point.

2. Code.org (www.code.org) – This is the ultimate site in trying to get everyone around the world to try coding. It has one of the best collections of fun logic games and challenges for kids to be entertained while also learning to code.

Offline Activities

Ironically you don’t have to be on a computer to start learning to code. Especially at such a young age, offline fun activities are a great way to get that coding mind started. Below are some of our favorite games:

1. Code Master – This is a great board game which is fun for beginners up to advanced as well. It’s amazing how they’ve put these coding challenges into a fun board game. You have to try it to believe it.

2. Rush Hour – I’m sure you may have already seen this one as it’s quite popular. You’re forced to use your logic skills to get a car out of a a traffic jam.

3. Chocolate Fix – This one is similar to Rush Hour in that it’s super engaging and just about as popular. This tends to be a great one for the kids as its primary pieces are all cupcakes.

Is your 6 year old Ready to code?

Don’t forget, coding isn’t for all 6 year olds!  Some just aren’t ready, and there’s plenty of time.  If they want to and are engaged though there are lots of different options available to get them started. And of course, all options are better when they are getting guidance and direction from a parent, or even better, a Code Coach® from a Coder School!

 LeBron James (Pro Basketball Player) LeBron James (Pro Basketball Player)

We don’t need more LeBrons, Drew Breezes, Adriana Limas, etc. But we do need more coders, scientists, and technologists. This is actually an old message that the technology world has known for quite some time, but it’s picking up STEAM (pun intended for those that know what STEAM is), now with the help of Verizon. Verizon is starting to really push this message to help our next generation realize this and hopefully influence their career choices just a bit. Let’s all join in and help teach more kids to code.

 Adriana Lima (SuperModel) Adriana Lima (SuperModel)

If you’re an adult reading this, I’m sure you can relate to when you were a kid and recall what you wanted to be. As with most kids, you want to be a model, pro football or basketball player, etc. No kids usually pick the software engineer as their dream job destination. And if you’re a kid reading this, I’m sure you probably would like to be a model or pro athlete. We all kinda do in general, but the key is the reality behind it. It’s actually fine to want to be a super model or pro athlete. The important thing is to at least be aware of the other options. Plenty of kids aren’t even aware of these other options and just focus on the really improbable careers with no back up. We’re not asking kids to give up their dreams of becoming Adriana Lima. What we are asking is to simply help them be aware of the facts and consider a few other options.

Just the Facts Ma’am

The facts show that there’s 4 million tech jobs right now and that it will continue to grow. According to code.org there’s over 500,000 open tech jobs right now! And it’s projected to be over 1M open tech jobs by 2020. That’s only 3 years from now and it’s almost an unbelievable amount of open jobs. This is not total jobs, but unfulfilled which is just ludicrous when you really think about it. Now you tell me, what do we need more of?

The Movement

Thanks to Verizon and the many others that all believe in this movement to help kids become more aware of the facts and options. And with more knowledge, will come more inspiration and change. Verizon has created a resurgence of this movement which is helping and there’s a very valid tagline “We Need More” and website to go along with it. They’ve created some really nice videos as well to help get this point across and reach more of the next generation.

theCoderSchool was formed with this movement to teach all kids to code in mind. Together with companies like Verizon, other coding/tech schools, Code Coaching®, STEM, and STEAM initiatives we can do this! We need more!