All The Right Moves

If you like working with kids, Kinderance International Inc. may be just the franchise opportunity you're looking for.

The good ol' days of Duck-Duck-Goose and Red Rover ain't what they used to be in Clark County, Washington. Ever since Darcy Christman, a franchisee of Kinderdance International Inc., a company specializing in developmental movement for children, helped usher in more creative games involving acrobatics, dance and imagery recognition, the customary forms of child's play for local preschoolers have been all but replaced.

Christman, who has served as a Kinderdance instructor since 1997, is so passionate about working with children, she was driven to purchase her Clark County franchise in January. "The best part of the job is seeing the kids' faces when you show up to teach," says Christman, 25. "I can be having an awful day, and it all changes as soon as I see how happy they are to see me."

The instruction is designed to prepare kids before they enter the throngs of public school education. Regularly visiting 13 child-care facilities, Christman introduces her students to a range of activities, from tap and gymnastics to exercises focusing on body awareness and motor skills. The sessions also incorporate colors, numbers and basic foreign language. "Not only do the children receive a unique and fun curriculum, but there is also more nurturing involved as opposed to conventional day care," she explains. "The one-on-one lessons, the attention and the emphasis on self-esteem are all vital [to the program]."

Started in 1979, Melbourne, Florida-based Kinderdance now teaches 9,000 students a week. Start-up costs range from $9,500 to $20,000, depending on the franchise package.

Business technicalities aside, the real benefits come from the students. "I've become really good friends with many kids," Christman says. "Their sense of freedom, how they continue to love us as teachers, is simply amazing." You can't get that from Duck-Duck-Goose.

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This article was originally published in the November 2000 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: All The Right Moves.

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