After five years of planning, Kids 'R' Kids is moving into overseas markets. 

Kids ‘R’ Kids Learning Academies, founded in Duluth in 1985, will open its first international location in Beijing in 2014 as part of an global expansion that includes planned locations in IndiaTurkey and Chile

The private company has opened 160 academies in 15 U.S. states, maintaining a a “hug first, then teach” philosophy with the idea that children learn best in a nurturing environment. 

“We are very excited to announce that the schools were just licensed and approved by the Ministry of Education in China, so the project is really moving quickly now,” Janet Lukat, executive assistant to director of operations, told Global Atlanta

Kids ‘R’ Kids aims to maintain its high educational standards, but it will also have to adapt some facets of its format for local conditions. 

China’s high-rises make the typical U.S. school layout impossible, so the Chinese academies will occupy multiple floors. Still, individual classrooms will closely mirror the intimate learning environment valued in the United States. The international locations will be managed by a Kids ‘R’ Kids corporate office in the host country, operated by a master franchisor that will have been extensively trained in the U.S. office.

“While expansions in the United States can sometimes come with their own set of challenges, it’s an entirely different ballgame when you look at it from an international perspective,” said David Vinson, founder and CEO, in a news release. “However, the concept at the heart of Kids ‘R’ Kids Learning Academies – whether we’re talking about Atlanta, Ga., or Beijing, China – will remain the same.”

The master franchisor in China will have an American support team for the first year, and there will be five American Kids ‘R’ Kids teachers on staff in the Chinese schools who will assist in training the new teachers there. There will be constant communication between the two offices and frequent travel to provide on-site support and training.

“We want to share this philosophy, and our AdvancEd accredited proprietary curriculum, with children around the world who have not previously had access to this type of academic experience. Our curriculum is written that way to ensure the children are challenged and stimulated,” Ms. Lukat said. 

After five years of planning, Kids ‘R’ Kids is planning locations in the Indian cities of MumbaiNew Delhi and Bangalore, the Turkish city of Istanbul and the Chinese cities of Beijing, Shanghai, Jinan, and Chengdu

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As managing editor of Global Atlanta, Trevor has spent 15+ years reporting on Atlanta’s ties with the world. An avid traveler, he has undertaken trips to 30+ countries to uncover stories on the perils...