What if there were a convenient place where parents could drop off their kids while they’re in a store — grocery store, wal-mart, at the mall, etc. — where the kids are:
- supervised (with background checks for employees)
- exposed to educational tools
I’m imagining a place where kids younger than 5 can play with semi-educational toys, kids from 5-8 can do puzzles and board games with each other, and kids 8-12 can surf the Internet (with a very strong filter, of course). You could stockpile the place with DVDs as well and give kids headphones so they can watch their own little movie and it could be stocked with things from PBS.
Then you charge the parents like $15/hr per kid (or some other reasonable figure that makes the financials work) and because the parent is free to get their errands done and it’s very convenient. And to make the parents feel better, their kid is sitting there learning in a safe environment so they can justify the cost to themselves as welll.
I’m betting most of the time you’d just have a single person in the place and you’d only have a handful of kids, so your human costs would be low. At peak hours (which you could gather data on initially) you could staff it with more people. In a big place like a mall you’d get a lot more people of course so you’d have to have more people on hand but you’d make a lot more on volume.
I wonder if you could even demonstrate that having this kind of a store is more likely to bring parents to a particular mall and so you could justify getting free rent from the landlord.