The Top Children's Businesses on the Franchise 500

These top-ranked franchises are great for entrepreneurs who love kids.

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By Matthew McCreary

Goldfish Swim School | Facebook

One of the most popular categories on this year’s Entrepreneur Franchise 500 were businesses targeted toward children. In total, 42 businesses made the list this year. This slideshow will focus on the top entry for each of the six child-related industries, which include childcare, tutoring and swim lessons. 

Start the slideshow to see which businesses took home top honors in 2020.

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Childcare Franchises: Primrose School Franchising

Founded in 1982 and franchising since 1988, Primrose School Franchising is ranked No. 54 on the list this year, up one spot from 2019. Over the past year, the Atlanta-based franchise added 23 new franchises, a 6 percent uptick. An investment in a Primrose franchise doesn’t come cheap: startup costs range from $637,900 to $6.4 million, and the initial franchise fee comes in at a hefty $80,000. 

The other childcare businesses on the Franchise 500 are: 

  • The Learning Experience Academy of Early Education (No. 62 on the Franchise 500) 
  • Goddard Systems (No. 88)
  • Kiddie Academy (No. 108)
  • Kids ‘R’ Kids Learning Academies (No. 109)
  • Lightbridge Academy (No. 234)
  • College Nannies, Sitters and Tutors (No. 260)
School of Rock

Children’s Enrichment Franchises: School of Rock

This just feels right, doesn’t it? The Canton, Mass.-based music education business is ranked No. 219 on the Franchise 500 and began franchising in 2005. As of 2019, School of Rock had 197 franchises (up from 179 in 2018) in addition to 41 company-owned units. Startup costs run in the mid-six figures — from $192,200 to $422,100 — while the initial franchise fee is $49,900. Franchisees also pay a royalty fee of 8 percent. 

The other children’s enrichment businesses on the Franchise 500 are: 

  • Snapology (No. 230)
  • Bach to Rock (No. 239)
  • STEM For Kids (No. 280)
  • Drama Kids International (No. 287)
  • Challenge Island (No. 345)
  • Parker-Anderson Enrichment (No. 403)
  • Abrakadoodle (No. 459)
Related: 24 Top-Ranked, Affordable Franchises You Can Buy for $25,000 or Less
The Little Gym International

Children’s Fitness Franchises: The Little Gym International

The oldest businesses among our children’s fitness entries, it only makes sense that The Little Gym International might enjoy more widespread success and name recognition than many of its competitors. The No. 179-ranked business had 430 franchises as of 2019. Startup costs range from $181,500 to $431,500, and the initial franchise fee is $49,500. 

The other Franchise 500 children’s fitness businesses are: 

  • My Gym Children’s Fitness Center (No. 202)
  • Skyhawks Sports & Supertots Sports Academy (No. 217)
  • Soccer Shots Franchising
  • D-BAT Academies (No. 344)
  • Kinderdance International (No. 367)
  • Parisi Speed School (No. 424)
  • I9 Sports (No. 457)
  • TGA Premier Sports (No. 460)
  • Hi-Five Sports Franchising (No. 464)
  • Amazing Athletes (No. 466)
Once Upon A Child

Children’s Retail Franchises: Once Upon A Child

Once Upon A Child primarily sells new and used children’s clothing, equipment, furniture and toys. Franchising since 1992, the Minneapolis-based children’s retail franchise ranked No. 110 on the 2020 Franchise 500 list, which is up from No. 129 in 2019. This improvement is in part due to a 4.3 percent increase in units year-over-year, from 369 to 385 in our most recent count. Startup costs run from $246,700 to $391,700, including a $25,000 franchise fee. 

The only other children’s retail business on the Franchise 500 was specialty toy store Learning Express Toys, which ranked No. 452.

Goldfish Swim School Franchising

Swimming Lessons Franchises: Goldfish Swim School Franchising

Among the children-related franchises who led their industry, Goldfish Swim School Franchising is by far the least common and the most expensive. There were only 90 total units during our 2019 count (89 franchises and a company-owned unit), in part due to the $1.4 to $3.2 million price tag. However, the Troy, Mich.-based business has shown strong growth since it began franchising in 2008. Over the past two years, in particular, the No. 28 entry on the Franchise 500 has nearly doubled in size, going from 46 total franchises to its current total.

The other swimming lesson businesses on the Franchise 500 were:

  • British Swim School USA (No. 203)
  • Aqua-Tots Swim Schools (No. 232)
  • SafeSplash/SwimLabs/Swimtastic (No. 278)

Tutoring Franchises: Kumon Math & Reading Centers

Saving the best for last, Kumon managed to top the most competitive category of child-related businesses in the Franchise 500. At No. 12, the Ridgefield Park. N.J.-based supplemental education franchise beat out other top-50 entries like Mathnasium Learning (No. 29) and Huntington Learning Centers (No. 39). It’s simply difficult to beat Kumon’s reach, given that the company has more than 26,000 franchises — more than every other tutoring business on the Franchise 500 combined. Each one costs between $73,400 and $154,800, including a franchise fee of $1,000.

The other tutoring businesses on the Franchise 500 were:

  • Mathnasium Learning Centers
  • Huntington Learning Centers
  • Tutor Doctor (No. 164)
  • Eye Level Learning Centers (No. 184)
  • Sylvan Learning (No. 252)
  • The Tutoring Center Franchise (No. 283)
  • JEI Learning Center (No. 372)
  • GradePower Learning (No. 404)
  • Club Z! In-Home Tutoring Services (No. 491)

Related: The Top 20 Franchises of 2020 From the Entrepreneur Franchise 500

Matthew McCreary

Entrepreneur Staff

Associate Editor, Contributed Content

Matthew McCreary is the associate editor for contributed content at

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