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Business As Usual

Play school

- Carla Paras-Sison -
Like many businesses, Just for Kids, Inc. was set up because of a pressing need.

"I was driven by the need to find wholesale activities my children could engage in when we returned to the Philippines from a three-year stay in Singapore," said president Helen Castro Limcaoco. "Research has shown that brain development is fastest right after birth. Movement and physical activity stimulate nerve cells to form synapses that make up overall brain development. The critical period is from birth to age six."

Just for Kids is the Philippine franchisee of Washington-based The Little Gym, where children are encouraged to develop skills in different sports and games without the pressure of competition.

"We know from a school of thought endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics that children under eight are not prepared for competitive sports. Psychologically, it is difficult for them to stay on the bench to wait for their turn to relieve the more able players and also to accept defeat," said Limcaoco.
Growing
Since opening its first local outlet in 1996, the company has opened three more branches for an aggregate investment of P26 million.

From between 100 and 175 at the end of the first year, enrollment is currently 850 to 1,150 students per quarter. Teacher-student ratios are kept at world standards of 1:4 for children below three, 1:6 for children aged three to six, and 1: 7 for children above six.

Tuition can go as high as P7,000 per quarter covering 12 sessions. An annual membership fee of P1,750 is also charged for every child enrolled.

"Despite having to pay royalties, our rates are lower than other The Little Gym franchises in Southeast Asia. We’re effectively charging under $10 per hour while our more affluent neighbors are charging $12 to $18 per hour," said Limcaoco.

On her own, Limcaoco has purchased a Singapore franchise, which has had 340 enrollees after only nine months in business.

"I hope getting a franchise overseas will help protect the gains we are making here in the Philippines. Since Singapore is very affluent and its currency is more stable, I believe any success there will ultimately allow us to continue our work here and reach more kids.," said Limcaoco.
Reaching Out
In an effort to reach the middle market, Just for Kids will open this coming school year a brand called The Little Gym’s Jump-a-Roo. Because the space requirement is smaller, this brand will not have the bigger equipment used for recreational gymnastics by older children. The upside is the membership fee and tuition per child is more affordable.

"The benefits The Little Gym experience gives children are many. I really want to be an advocate of early childhood motor skill development," said Limcaoco.

AMERICAN ACADEMY OF PEDIATRICS

CENTER

CHILDREN

HELEN CASTRO LIMCAOCO

LIMCAOCO

LITTLE GYM

PER

REACHING OUT

SINCE SINGAPORE

SOUTHEAST ASIA

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