Kiddie Academy locations on the Eastside win national recognition

Six locally owned educational child care centers received an award for brand excellence and customer service.

Kiddie Academy, a nationwide chain of educational child care facilities, recently bestowed the Franchisee of the Year award to four co-owners of six locations, including four on the Eastside.

The owners, Rimmi Josan, Devinder Singh Josan, Maninder Singh and Raman Thind, shared the stage and the plaudits as company president Greg Helwig presented them with the award at a three-day conference in San Diego last month.

These area locations — Bellevue, Bothell, Mill Creek, Kirkland, Kenmore and Seattle Queen Anne — beat out more than 200 other locations across the country for the top company honor.

“It was great to see the recognition from the system and the community, and being part of the community and getting the recognition is humbling,” Rimmi said.

Devinder attributed the national success of the Washington franchises to the strength of his management team and the deep commitment of his teaching staff.

“Every day, they stay focused on creating a wonderful experience for children to learn and families to thrive,” he said. “This happens in every single interaction, no matter how small: a good morning conversation with mom at drop off, a moment on the playground between a teacher and a toddler, or a high five in the hallway between our director and a preschooler on her way back home.”

In a press release, Helwig said, “Thind, Singh and the Josans embody the highest standards of professionalism and caring, and we are proud to recognize their contributions not only to Kiddie Academy, but also to so many Seattle families.”

Kiddie Academy started in 1981 as one location in Baltimore County, Maryland with the slogan “More than a daycare, more than a nursery school.” Over the next two decades, the company developed its trademark curriculum called Life Essentials, aiming to supplement natural curiosity with fun, STEM-based activities. Today, the tuition-funded program services children ages 6 weeks to 12 years old.

According to Devinder, an average day at any of the Eastside centers starts out with circle time, which is a chance for discussing the day ahead and sharing stories from the previous evening. Also included in this time is the day’s duty assignment, wherein each child is tasked with rotating roles like line leader or door holder.

Next comes the transition into the academic centers, or specialized activities designed to engage motor skills or critical thinking — including handwriting practice, art projects, pattern and sequence recognition.

Each classroom is broken down into different learning areas; children will have a daily pass through a math center, an art center and even a free-play center replete with building blocks. Once a week, there is a special activity during the morning, like music and movement. After this first educational period, it’s time for food.

“Our lunch is family-style dining, cooked locally, with mostly organic ingredients,” Devinder said. “That, in our program, is a teaching moment. So we get to talk about what are some day foods, what are everyday foods, how to serve themselves and pass dishes around.”

Naptime follows lunch, and then a return to the academic centers fills the afternoon, ensuring that every part of the curriculum is covered — if art was the morning’s focus, then math will finish out the day.

Devinder said franchise expansion has always depended on the family demand for the program in a new area. If the demand is there, then it becomes a matter of waiting until a staff capable of continuing the owners’ high standards is assembled.

Singh, who recalled his initial reluctance to open a Seattle location, said that an influx of Microsoft workers necessitated a skilled team to operate in Queen Anne.

On July 13 a free grand opening even was held at the teams’ newest branch in Bellevue. Helwig was in attendance for live storytelling featuring PBS Kids’ Pinkalicious and Curious George.

Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story misspelled Maninder Singh’s name.