Welcome to Locally Grown! Locally Grown introduces you to the people and stories behind local Lake County businesses. This month we have gotten to know Dr. Brad Kayden. Dr. Kayden is the creator of Jelly Bean Sports. Today we are going to learn more about Jelly Bean Sports, an early learning sports instruction, production, and research company.
I have a two-year-old, and day after day she watches her older brother participate in a wide array of activities available to kids his age. And every day I hear her begging, “Me, too.” She is quick and eager to learn, athletic, and she loves to have fun and be “just like the big kids.” It is difficult to find fun, quality activities for her. I was very pleased, however, to give my daughter the opportunity to participate in a soccer program by Jelly Bean Sports.
Jelly Bean Sports has many opportunities for children starting with ages two to five and continuing with older kids, to learn sports fundamentals. Classes include soccer, T-ball, baseball, and “sports shorts” (a sampler class that includes a variety of sports). Classes are offered through park districts in Lake County and surrounding suburbs. Jelly Bean Sports was created by Dr. Kayden, a local entrepreneur, and the program is based upon his research on early learning in sports.
When we arrived at my daughter’s first soccer class, Dr. Kayden (also called Coach Pickles) and his assistant Josue (known as Coach Speedy) greeted us. They gave her a jersey to wear for the day along with a Fitbit-like wristband that tracked her steps and activity throughout the class. She was completely thrilled to receive it in her favorite color, pink. A variety of options are available in case your child is particular about colors.
The class started with some fun and fast-paced games, and parents were encouraged to participate and help guide their children in the activities. The philosophy here encourages parent involvement rather than watching from the sidelines. We kicked over small orange cones and learned how to flip them back upright. The children played individual games with dots on the ground and practiced kicking soccer balls. When it was time to clean up the props from each activity, the task was turned into a fun game, teaching kids the responsibility of cleaning up after themselves and working together while having fun.
My child usually takes about 10 minutes to warm up to any new environment or activity. This class engaged her right away, and she had no trouble jumping in to participate. It also helped that I was able to stay next to her from the start of class. I noticed as the class continued that many of the two- and three-year-olds became more confident and comfortable in the class, and parents were soon watching with smiling faces as their children engaged independently in the group activities. This is clearly intentional within the program, and I appreciated it.
There was never a dull or quiet moment during the class. The instructors seamlessly moved the kids from one activity to another. The kids participated in a variety of running races, going forward and backwards, and then gathered around a parachute for more fun. The kids learned to work together, listen to directions, and move their bodies.
One activity I found particularly impressive was the skill lesson. The kids gathered, sitting on the floor, to watch a short, animated video about the soccer skill for the day. The kids were engrossed as they learned to “trap” a soccer ball from a mouse. It was cute and funny, but also straight to the point. The video used entertainment that kids can connect to, similar to a Sesame Street segment, to teach them the new skill.
After the video, the kids stood up and joined their parents to practice the new skill. My daughter enjoyed kicking the ball and then “trapping” it over and over again. It was fun to see her learn how to interact with the ball and have fun with it. (In fact, she started doing this at home as well without my prompting.) The class ended with the children handing in their wrist band (she tracked over a mile of activity during the class!) and jersey. My daughter also received some organic hand sanitizer and a lollipop.
We were very pleased with our experience with Jelly Bean Sports Soccer. I loved the parent-child interaction, the way it engaged my child’s mind and body, and the big smile on her face at the end of the class. We are looking forward to enrolling my daughter in more sessions of Jelly Bean Sports.
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.