1. Posts
     
A. How did KidsPark begin?

Debbie Milner, Founder and CEO

Rita, the first KidsPark-er. Stylish from the start.

In 1988, KidsPark was the original “disrupter” in traditional childcare in California.  I introduced licensed, hourly-care. Why?   Quite simply, because I needed it.  An advisor told me to find the service or product that was missing from my life. I needed childcare on demand, without reservations, when you need it days, evenings and weekends.  It became my niche and passion.

Was I the only Mom that couldn’t juggle it all? (Let me know – send an email.)  I was new to California, didn’t have any family in the area, worked full-time as an Information Systems for HP, my husband travelled a great deal and I had Rita, a 2-year old.  Yikes!  I just needed a few hours here and there to take care of errands, get a haircut, see a doctor, or have some down-time.

I tried finding a babysitter, but I never remembered to schedule one early enough and couldn’t find one on the spur of the moment.  Plus, I felt better leaving Rita with an adult than a teenager and I wanted her to have other children to play with.  When my research confirmed it wasn’t just me, other families needed hourly care, I moved forward.  I spent a year figuring out how it could work and raising some capital.

Creating a company was very important to me.  I wanted to control of my work life.  I was a latchkey kid, so my hot button was to be home in the afternoon with my daughter.  My version of life-work balance was to work before she got up, while she was at school, and then when she was in bed.  When she was little, she came to work with me.  Remember, this was back in 1988, before flex-time and job-sharing.

Being able to control one’s schedule resonates throughout KidsPark.  Three times a year, we ask our teachers when they want to work. We build our schedule around their requests. This way a mom can work days when her children are in school and switch to evenings for the summer when school is out.  Or college students can change their schedule each semester depending on their courses.  I think this has helped us build a strong team – we have teachers who have been with us for 20+ years!

Debbie Milner, CEO


     
B. Create Your Own Play-Scape

Debra Milner, Founder and CEO

 

Or, should I say play escape!

Only in the 20th century has play been so strongly associated with a toy rather than an activity. But, play does not need to center around the newest, most expensive gadget. Play doesn’t have to cost a lot. KidsPark “is play without batteries”, according to Arlington, TX KidsPark center owners, Beth Christie and Heather Alanis. Child initiated play lets children explore, test, create and follow their own interests. Both the American Academy of Pediatrics and United Nations High Commission for Human Rights confirm play is an essential part of a child’s development.

Many years ago I worked for Lakeside Toys. We held children’s focus groups to see what attracted and held their attention. I observed children playing in a co-operative environment – kids building on each other’s stories and insights. The activities that held their attention offered:
• new options each time
• many routes to take – not just a “right one”.
• improvisation
• objects in a variety of colors, textures and shapes

We incorporate this into KidsPark’s layout and selection of activities. Check-out our Pinterest pages for ideas. Create your own play-scape at home.

Time — play happens outside of lesson plans, appointments and routines. Let it initiate by leaving blocks of unscheduled time for children to be playful and engage their imagination.

Art Station – play needs a certain amount of choice. There must be room for using things and doing things in new ways.  Put out an Art box and see what happens!  Fill a cardboard box, or storage bin with:

For older children add:

Storage – If it may take more than 1 sitting to finish, start the project on a tray or board that can be moved out of the way if you are using a kitchen or dining room table. I prefer to move it into the child’s room so it is a reminder to finish the project (else it might sit in the corner of the living room forever). It also makes the child responsible for its safety.

Indoor Play – The simplest is a bubble bath with lots of toys. Set up a cozy clubhouse by draping a sheet or bring in a large box. Turn off the lights and play with a flashlight and shadows. Act out a favorite story or TV show.

Outdoor Play – be playful. Simple things will engage children’s imagination and senses. Try: Bubbles (Dawn works great); pail of water, ladle and measuring cups; dirt, scoops and plastic containers

I hope you have a ton of fun watching, and maybe joining, your child in play. I’m getting off my soapbox now, so I can play with it! It could become a… robot, a go-cart, a playhouse ….

Debbie Milner, CEO


     
C. Wordplay

Debra Milner, Founder and CEO

Is KidsPark a treat or a routine? Good question.

One answer is, “It depends.” Many families use KidsPark as a reward for their children or an indulgence for themselves. Other families come specific times, like clockwork, so their kids stay in a schedule or so parents can attend recurring activities.

Personally, I think for kids and parents, KidsPark is both.

Routine

Developing a routine for kids is important so they feel secure in knowing what to expect. However, no one wants “boredom”, and that is a fine line. Coming to KidsPark is routine in the sense kids know the check-in process and the activity areas, but it is a treat to do something new. We rotate toys, introduce new games and have different themes each month.

For parents with fixed commitments, it’s nice to know you can routinely depend on KidsPark without the hassle of calling ahead to reserve a space. But, being open days, evenings and weekends also gives families versatility if anything in their schedule changes.

Treat

It is a treat to come at different times. Who doesn’t enjoy a night out? I do! You do! So do kids. Many parents may worry about disrupting a sleep schedule or the kids are not in their own bed. But, that is what makes it a treat for the kids – they get to do something different. Doesn’t everyone remember the times their parents let them stay up for a special occasion? How nice to be “treated” like to be a “big kid”! And Parents, don’t worry if the kids get tired at KidsPark, we offer them quiet time in the theater with stories and calming music. Kids comfortably snuggle down when it is late and parents carry them to the car.

So, when asked about KidsPark, how about saying – it is a treat to be enjoyed routinely!

Debbie Milner, CEO


     
D. Become a KidsPark Franchisee

Leslie Gamez, VP of Franchising

Is KidsPark right for me?

If you answered  yes,  you are our franchisee!

Why not do it myself?

Being an entrepreneur has its perks!

But, doing it alone can be terrifying. Franchising provides the autonomy to be an independent business owner, but with the support of a large company. It’s a win-win situation. You always have the support of a team of other business minded entrepreneurs.

First Step

From the minute we meet to begin the vetting process, we develop a personal relationship. We lead you through our discovery process one step at a time.  All along you have the opportunity to “kick the tires”. You are encouraged to do market research, ask questions, speak to our Franchisees and gather all of the information needed to make an informed business decision.

Next

If a franchise is awarded, we hit the ground running. We teach you the KidsPark way:

KidsPark’s franchise opportunity is pretty close to a turnkey solution. We share our proven methodology. There is no need to reinvent the wheel. If you need it, chances are we’ve already thought of it. Over 25 years of business experience is documented.

Learn More

Contact us.

Read the details.

Happiness is in our bones. Happy kids. Happy parents. Happy franchisees.

Leslie Gamez, VP of Franchising


     
E. A musing.

Debra Milner, Founder and CEO

I bet about this time of year you are tired of hearing “I want …” from your kids. When my daughter was young, I got really tired of it, especially when it referred to clothes. I like clothes, too, and am willing to indulge my inner diva. So, I understand I may
have been an enabler, but it needed to be controlled.

When she was about 11 years old she was given a monthly clothes allowance.  The rules were simple:

  1. If it shows (ie, underwear doesn’t count), you buy it.
  2. Exceptions: winter coats, special event outfits and 2 pairs of shoes a year.

Cut and dry. No more arguments. She had a VisaBuxx card that refilled each month. Although unspent money could be carried over, there was no borrowing ahead. When it was gone, it was gone.

Shopping with her became a pleasure. Suddenly, she evaluated her purchases.

I knew it hit home when we were shopping for a special event outfit and I had to nix her choice. But, I graciously said she could buy it with HER money. She said “No, it isn’t worth it.“ Aha! If it isn’t worth your money, then it isn’t worth mine!

Of course she learned the expected:

But, the biggest surprise was what I learned? Kids can respect rules and meet expectations.

Now, when we shop, there are many times we look at each other and simultaneously wink as we say “would you spend your money on this?”


     
F. De-stress Gift Giving

Leslie Gamez, VP of Franchising

Words like easy, simple and less stress are not associated with the holidays … EVER!  As parents, the demands of this time of year are daunting:

And the list goes on.  Now sprinkle in work, out of town guests, family and home life responsibilities –   whew!

Taking the time to focus on your child’s wish list can be additional stress.  Reduce some of the cost and stress with this rule of thumb.   Gift giving should include:

  1. Want
  2. Need
  3. Wear
  4. Read

Want

Consider one favorite item, a must have, or can’t live without it gift for this category. We all love the idea of a wish list – dream the big dream. With all the latest and greatest electronics, styles, gadgets and galore, it’s hard to ignore the “wants”. But, encourage varied items on the wish or (want) list to ease the financial burden and stress of failing to deliver.

Need

Maybe replenish a mid-year school supply or  athletic gear.

Wear

Wearable gifts rock from head to toe!

Read

The gift that keeps on giving.

As gifts are unwrapped, I think you’ll have tears of joy, not cries of disappointment. Turn gift giving into a win-win and de-stress the holidays, or any gifting occasion, with a fun twist and new rule of thumb. Happy kids. Happy parents. Happy gift giving.

 

 


     
G. What do you want?

Debra Milner, Founder and CEOQuestion:

If you got 30 women of varying ages, professions and locations together and ask them what they needed to make their lives better, what do you think their response would be?

Answer: 

Childcare

Surprised? I was.

I attended a meeting last month and was surprised to hear the stories of struggles, choices and frustrations that covered the last 30 years. As much as I think things have gotten easier with flex-time, job sharing and more involved Dads, women were griping.

After sifting through the gripes at this meeting, what I found interesting is the true gist of their complaints wasn’t the lack of affordable childcare services, but the perceived lack of emotional support when their schedules veered off the traditional 8am – 5pm workday. This can happen when dealing with:

They hated the “looks” from co-workers or snide remarks when they left early or came in late due to family responsibilities.

Would this have been resolved if they had closed the communication loop?

Women (everyone, really) have to stop assuming everyone knows what they are thinking. If they are leaving work early to attend to family needs, and their co-workers are working hard to meet a critical deadline, it may be best to say, ”Don’t worry, I will have the report to you no later than 10pm tonight – we will make our deadline.“ This is much better than sneaking out and leaving people wondering about your commitment. We all want confirmation that:

When my daughter was a baby, I was a manager at a tech company. I changed my hours to 6:30am-3:30pm, which was much earlier than most of my team. I admit to pangs of guilt when leaving. Thinking back, this was pre-email and cell phones (yikes), which would have made keeping in contact much simpler. However, the guilt became less as my team realized they had my attention — the same level of support and commitment as before. Plus, early morning problems were solved before they arrived!

By closing-the-loop in communication, I think we create a circle of support.

This is what I want.

I think this is something we can get.


     
H. REACH Out to Children

Debra Milner, Founder and CEO

Who doesn’t need a good cry sometimes? If a person cries, it is an expression of:

Same with children. It may be even more important for young children who have not developed many verbal skills yet.

What to do? At KidsPark, the first question is always – Are you hurt? Once we are assured a child is physically fine, then we can probe. We REACH out to the children.

  1. Recognize the feeling.  Are you feeling _______? Fill-in: sad, scared, mad
  2. Empathize and acknowledge their feeling.  I can understand how you would feel ______.
  3. Assure them it will be OK.  Mom will be right back.
  4. Comfort them. Can I give you a hug?  Want to build a tower? Want to color?
  5. Help redirect their attention.  Let’s join the circle time. I want you to meet one of my friends _____.

Before you know it, tears are a thing of the past.

There are times when a child does not want to be comforted. That’s when you see our sign “No Hugs Wanted”. We have tried to comfort the child but they get more hysterical. These children need some time to settle down before they can be approached. At home, this is a good time for a child to rest in their room or be asked to quietly sit. Many child psychologists recommend not giving children electronics to divert their attention – they need to develop diversion skills on their own. Once they have self-soothed, we address their needs.

Parents, let’s not overlook the happiness cry – the best cry of all! We all experience the slow, eye misting to swelling tears rolling down our cheeks. The sheer happiness of remembering or sharing something special. I hope we all have many, many happy cries.


     
I. Add an E to ECE

Leslie Gamez, VP of Franchising

Quality Early Childhood Education focuses on how children learn and develop through curriculum. At KidsPark, we add an E for environment. KidsPark looks different from the traditional preschool or childcare center.

Why?

We believe our environments set the stage for playful learning, successful outcomes and most importantly fun! We see the positive results daily in our Preschool Education, Hourly Play and School Age environments.

  1. Socialization

    KidsPark’s hourly program and preschool classes provide parents the flexibility to introduce a high quality early learning environment to their child on their own schedule.

  2. Cooperation

    Our trained, professional teacher’s have the child’s best interest at heart. We consciously set up the program to encourage interaction with materials and one another. We “coach” and “model” appropriate interaction.

  3. “Whole” Development

    Children succeed when they are interested learners. That’s easy – our environment allows flexibility within the schedule, daily routine and curriculum offered to meet the social, emotional, physical and mental development of the child.

  4. Patience

    Our centers allow for peer to peer problem solving, turn taking and opportunities for children to navigate their own play and rules. Patience is learned and shared daily.

  5. Lifelong Learning

    Our team teaching approach allows interaction from different personalities, styles of teaching and experiences. Most importantly we share our expertise to create enthusiasm and develop the child’s love of learning.

  6. Teamwork

    Our program, center layout and schedule of activities cultivates a culture of teamwork. Group games, cooperative clean up, small group activities and team teaching are present daily.

  7. Confidence and Self-Esteem

    It’s simple – children have the autonomy to choose at KidsPark! We set the stage, create interest areas, offer engaging activities and allow children to choose their play based on interest.

We create a new day of discovery and learning for every child whether they visit hourly, daily or more frequently.  ECEE may “sound easy”, but it takes work, experimentation and training.  When we say “we play all day, every day” we mean business!

——————————————————————————————————————————————————

For more details on the key benefits to ECE, read this article by Vicki Palmer, a career early childhood educator and founder of TicTacTeach.com.


     
J. Spring Fling

Debra Milner, Founder and CEO

The calendar says it is Spring but, in most of the country, it hasn’t felt like it. It has been cold, wet and dreary… and not necessarily in that order. I can’t seem to get going.

I notice kids feeling the “drag”, too. It happens. They want to be less active, sometimes are less tolerant of change or requests and seem to need more motivation. Sound familiar?

Well, enough of this! Let’s feel “spring-like” – have enthusiasm and energy to match the proposed season. Here’s a game plan:Move away from the computer!  Get out-of-the-house. Plan outings with friends and family.

This worked for me:

I can happily say I AM READY FOR SPRING even if the weather isn’t!

This list is going on my bulletin board as a reminder of what to-do next time I have an energy drain.


2. Pages
     
A. Home


     
B. Why KidsPark


     
C. Programs

KP_WebPhotos_700x400_faces
How to describe our program?

High energy. Something for everyone. Caring. Enriching. And, some might say, “it’s a zoo!”  We smile, and say, “it’s great to see the kids having fun.”

You may see some kids in the midst of movement games, some on the mountain-of-energy, some in the creative process at the art tables, some at work on a lego or waffle block structure and some in conversation with friends.

We see an organized program with planned tiers of activity for each age group – preschool and school-age.

How to use our program.

Hourly Care

Back-up Care

Preschool Education

 


     
D. Parties

Very happy parties.

On Sundays, KidsPark offers private parties for 2-12 year olds. Your personal party hostess plans the event and conducts activities so you can enjoy the event with your family and friends.

Party packages include:

Parties are Sunday mornings and evenings. Check with your local KidsPark center for details, prices and to reserve the date for your special event. The host family must be registered at KidsPark.

For your convenience, please use punchbowl.com to invite your guests.


     
E. Locations

Find a Center Near You

Search Results

           
      F. Franchising

      Join our family of franchisees.

      We envision KidsPark centers in cities across the United States.  If you are a business-minded individual who wants an entrepreneurial opportunity to contribute a needed service to your community and are prepared to invest between $258,750 and $472,950, take a close look at KidsPark.  As a KidsPark owner, you will share a reputation for quality, a proven method of operation and an innovative program.

      Are you the right fit?

      KidsPark owners are customers themselves. You value this type of service and would use it in your community. You recognize the importance of a quality play program for children and extended support for busy families.

      Our Ideal candidate is comfortable being the face of the brand, marketing savvy, business minded, ambitious and detail oriented. Previous childcare experience isn’t necessary. We have documented every step of owning and operating a KidsPark franchise.

      More Information


           
      G. About


           
      H. Refer A Friend

      Be a hero. Tell a friend about KidsPark. They'll thank you and we'll thank you with a free hour of care.
      • Who are you?

        So we can tell your friend who referred them and send you a Free Hour Play Pass when they register.
      • Who's your friend?

        We'll email them a 50% off Registration coupon from you. Wow - you are a hero!
      • Which Center?


           
      I. Contact

      KidsPark Inc. Corporate Office
      2858 Stevens Creek Blvd. Suite 201
      San Jose, CA 95128

      Contact your local center

      Franchising opportunities

      Contact our corporate office


           
      J. What to Expect

      We encourage parents and children to take a tour of our center and meet our staff. This eases the transition on your first visit, especially for very young children. If your child seems overwhelmed with the activity, we suggest you allow them to observe before they join in. When they are ready, teachers will direct them into an appropriate activity.

      For more detailed coverage of what you can expect, see our FAQs page.

      Reminders:


      3. Events
           
      A. All Aboard the Polar Express

      December 5, 2015

      All aboard! Enjoy a round trip of holiday fun inspired by the movie Polar Express.
           
      B. Holiday Gift Workshop

      December 19, 2015

      Shh.... It's a surprise. Take home a gift for someone special.
           
      C. Winter Wonderland

      January 9, 2016

      Chill with us. Our winter wonderland is so cool it's hot!
           
      D. Silly Sensory Day

      January 30, 2016

      Messy is fun! Explore your senses. Mix, squish and slime.
           
      E. Pirate Party

      May 21, 2017

      Ready to walk the plank? It’s a pirates life for us. Ahoy matey!
           
      F. Seussville Celebration

      March 2, 2016

      We DO like to party, just like you! Celebrate Dr. Seuss and his magical world.
           
      G. Weird Wacky Science

      March 26, 2016

      Little mad scientists discover, play and learn.
           
      H. Crazy Hair Day

      November 7, 2015

      Fall into hair raising fun. Spike, spray color, braid, up-do, sparkle and gel all sorts of exciting new looks. Come any time, the KidsPark stylists are here all day!
           
      I. Turkey-tastic Day

      November 21, 2015

      Gobble! Gobble! Shake a tail feather in to feast on a day stuffed with Fall fun.
           
      J. Spook-tacular Sweets

      October 17, 2015

      Celebrate Sweetest Day. Little chefs cook up spooky sweet treats!