Work is well underway to convert former administrative offices of the Girl Scouts of Western Washington at 601 Valley St. to serve more than 200 children at a new child-care facility in Queen Anne. The hope for owners Devinder Singh is to open Kiddie Academy of Seattle at Queen Anne sometime between Aug. 15 and Sept. 15, once construction and permitting are completed.
Singh said there had been interest in bringing a Kiddie Academy location to the area for a while, but that it was difficult to find a site that met all of their needs. They had to have enough space for an outdoor play area, and the location itself needed to be centrally located, and convenient for families to drop off children.
That’s what they found just blocks from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Now, the race is on to overhaul the facility to house child-care that differs from other local offerings.
“Our ultimate goal is to prepare students for school and for life,” Singh said.
That means offering a balanced program that focuses not only on academics, but also incorporates health and fitness, and character education (which incorporates one theme per month, like empathy or generosity, into lesson plans).
“We’re doing it in a way that it actually kindles a joy for learning for them,” he said. “So the real thing we’re trying to do is give them the skills to learn new skills, so that they look forward to the next day at school, so by the time they go into kindergarten they’re not only ready for that, but they also know how to acquire new skills [there].”
Singh said that balance was missing elsewhere, a fact that became more apparent when his son reached pre-school age. The vast majority of programs, he said, were either very highly-academic, “trying to create an Einstein by five,” or lacked a structured education component.
“We decided there has to be a different way,” he said.
That different way is the approach they've taken at their other locations, where Singh said it has been embraced by those communities. Of particular interest for parents has been the approach to nutrition, with an in-house chef that makes meals from scratch across a wide array of cuisines from different parts of the world.
“Kids truly grow up to have this very diverse palate,” Singh said.
That’s part of the academies’ commitment to celebrating different cultures, inviting parents to help students celebrate various holidays.
Also setting Kiddie Academy apart, he said, is the use of technology. Singh said when his son was in pre-school, much of the communication between teachers and parents was done via paper, and the reports he would get were not particularly specific.
With “Academy Link,” parents are sent a personalized daily update via email about what their child learned or did on any given day.
“They can have a very specific conversation interlinking it back to how their day went,” he said.
Singh’s professional background is in the tech field, which helps inform his approach to education, but the work he’s doing now is more in line with where his passion lies.
“In my heart, I always wanted to do something in education,” he said.
To learn more about Kiddie Academy of Seattle at Queen Anne, visit www.kiddieacademy.com/academies/seattle-at-queen-anne/. To comment on this story, write to QAMagNews@nwlink.com.