The Clubhouse stays flexible for busy moms
The noontime sun from the large windows at Main Street’s Clubhouse Drop-in Daycare Center highlights toddlers tinkering with colorful games, playing dress up or playing with building blocks, and older children reading to themselves or being read to by Clubhouse staffers.
The 1,400-square-foot room bustles with an energy that Clubhouse owner Sharon Pierce did not anticipate. A two-year resident of Park City, Pierce says that since she opened The Clubhouse on Main Street five months ago, she has discovered a real need for Park City parents, local and visiting. Better still, business-savvy Pierce found the perfect creative partner a mere month after opening her business in August child development-certified Mindy Krall.
Krall was running two drop-in day care facilities at the Silver Mountain Sports Club’s locations at Kimball Junction and in Prospector Square, when she met Pierce.
"What appealed to me, was her teaching side and creative side," recalls Pierce. "Since I enjoy the business side, it was a perfect blend of personality. I think you need both sides to be successful."
Oct.1, Krall agreed to combine forces and become the director for all three locations — at Kimball Junction, Prospector and Main Street — doing what she says she likes doing best: creating an atmosphere that combines learning with play. Krall likes to keep kids’ hands busy with projects and events. This winter, for example, she took kids sledding and on a Christmas shopping outing to the Tanger Outlet Center.
Krall has a Utah child development associate degree, has directed Park City Recreation’s summer camp and has more than four years of preschool teaching experience. She is also a mother to daughters Taylor, nearly four years old, and Hailey, nearly two, and she credits them with helping to teach her the most about how to approach daycare.
Pierce, who at the height of her career at a Southern California-based computer company managed 25 salespeople, also recognizes her children, Calli Jo, two-and-a-half, Logan, five, and Catlin, 11, as instructing her in how to build a daycare business.
"My credentials are being a mom and I know what I want. When we opened, I did what I thought would provide fun and interest to my kids," she says.
Like Krall, Pierce likes Clubhouse to be structured. She says she’s inspired by the Montessori model of hands-on learning. All three drop-in centers offer lunch and dinner, and some activities, but Pierce’s next goal is to create a daily schedule every day.
"If you can get down on their level and stimulate kids’ minds, I can’t tell you how much happier they are," Pierce explained.
Pierce also notes she is proud of her daycare’s ratios. The state requires a minimum of one daycare staff per 12 children, and she keeps Clubhouse facilities at around one staff member per five or six children, and she does what she can to keep the same staff members. Already, Pierce observes, many children enjoy their time at the center so much, they don’t want to go home.
Pierce does not pretend to fill the missing all-day preschool care needed for the Park City community a void left when the nonprofit Total Energy Preschool closed its doors this year. Instead, Pierce wanted to provide a drop-in center, because in a transient resort town like Park City, it’s important for care to be flexible, she says. "I just felt there are times when you just want a break to go to the grocery store or you’re on vacation for a week or you need a lunch break," Pierce explained. "Moms’ schedules change constantly. It can be a battlefield trying to manage everything." But "drop-in" can be more than just a supervised free time — it can still be informative and edifying for children, she notes.
"Parents have a negative idea of daycare that kids play all day and if you pick them up and they’re still alive, [a daycare facility has done its] job," Pierce says. "I want to change that. I want every kid to leave here with a project they’ve done and something to tell their parents in the car ride home."
The Clubhouse offers drop-in daycare for children three months old to 12 years old. Weekday hours are 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., and weekend hours are 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Parents need not be Silver Mountain Sports Club members to use the sports club locations, however members get a discount on hourly rates. Local rates are $10 an hour for children under two years of age, and $7 an hour for children two and up. Visitor rates are $13 an hour for children two and under and $10 an hour for children two and up.
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