Welcome to Locally Grown! Locally grown introduces you to the people and stories behind local Lake County businesses. Today it is our pleasure to introduce you to Dr. Brad Kayden of Jelly Bean Sports, an early learning sports instruction, production and research company.
When Little Lake County took a reader poll recently asking about sports programs geared towards children ages two-and-a-half, many readers agreed that they loved and trusted Jelly Bean Sports for their little ones.
What is Jelly Bean Sports? It is the brainchild and passion of entrepreneur Dr. Brad Kayden. Jelly Bean Sports conducts early learning sports instruction classes in soccer and T-ball, and “sports shorts” programs through local park districts and schools in Libertyville, Round Lake, Vernon Hills, and other suburbs.
The goal of Jelly Bean Sports is to teach children about sports in a way that builds upon the things they learn. Dr. Kayden tries to create fun, positive associations with sports by playing games and using technology, such as animated videos, to learn new skills. He feels that sports is centered too much on preaching and talking to kids, and hoping they listen.
Having had a history of working with park districts, educational sports programming and higher education, Dr. Kayden began to notice personal philosophical differences he had with traditional concepts in teaching athletics. He considered how kids learn valuable lessons and concepts through entertainment such as Sesame Street or the Wiggles. Then he spent a considerable amount of time breaking down what makes those learning tools effective, and decided to apply that “formula” to sports learning. It’s essentially “sports made fun.”
I have an Educational Doctorate from Argosy University in Schaumburg. My dissertation was titled Creating and Testing an Early Learning Model in Sport based on the Natural Order of Sport. It is the first research of its kind on the process of teaching young children in sport and discussing “early learners in sport” and “early learning in sport,” two phrases coined as a result of my research.
Besides working with park districts, Dr. Kayden has a unique life and vocational history that has led him to where he is now. He spent time in the Navy, where he served overseas as a military police officer, he has worked in the corporate world, he was a resident director in college, and he also holds a Master’s degree in human relations assessment.
In his personal life, he is the proud husband and father of four children ages six, four, three and one. And while he is anxious for Jelly Bean Sports to expand, and has a plan and a vision and a demand for it, his family always comes first. Managing the two has been tricky, but the philosophy is simple: always family first, then the business.
If I‘m going to run a family-oriented business, I need to be a family-oriented guy. I see too many business people ignore their families. I had to learn how to at various times how to build the business to sustain or to succeed, and always keep the family intact.
Family involvement is a big part of his sports program; he wants it to be a family-friendly environment, especially in early sports learning. One of his primary focuses is encouraging parents to be involved. He wants them out on the field with their children, encouraging them to follow directions, learning the skills and having fun together. At Jelly Bean Sports, parents do not just sit on the sideline.
It is difficult to find many sports or activity options for kids younger than age six. I know this from personal experience. Dr. Kayden and Jelly Bean Sports has found a niche in creating fun, useful and engaging programming to get your littles excited about sports and learning new skills such as focus, balance and hand-eye coordination.
Disclosure: Jelly Bean Sports is our featured Locally Grown Business of the Month. This series of features is part of a paid partnership with Little Lake County. Contact littlelakecounty[at]gmail[dot]com if you are interested in featuring your own locally-owned business in our series.