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Not just child’s play



Club Pure members

Club Pure members Tristan Cole, left, 12, and Dylan Hughes, right, 9, compete in a friendly game of chess in the after care program as Shanique James, 9, and Zoe Gormley, 10, watch intently.

An interactive day club for pre- and grade-schoolers to build on a solid foundation

BY DEBRA MAGRANN

If your defining moments of childhood were marked by watching the original Mickey Mouse Club on a black-and-white TV and you remember Head Mouseketeer Jimmy Dodd encouraging impressionable young viewers to always do the right thing, it might be natural to think wholesome wisdom like that has faded away.

The good news is that old-fashioned principles are being modeled and taught to children — from infants to tweens — who are being trained with the ethics of the Golden Rule in mind.

Club Pure in Port St. Lucie is not a nightclub. It’s a day club for children that mixes studies with sensible use of technology and throws in lots of creative energy.

Since 2008, when Nicolas and Misty Khoury opened the doors of Club Pure in Fort Pierce to five children, they have consistently expanded their outreach that currently serves more than 200 children in Port St. Lucie. They could not have known how wildly successful their initial endeavor would prove to be.

“We had a vision, opening a spring camp with five children,” Misty recalls. “By the following summer, we had 125 students enrolled and then launched before-and-after care in 2010.”

Their original location in Fort Pierce now serves as the site for their Project Rock suspension program, a contract awarded through the Children’s Services Council of St. Lucie County in June 2013. A preschool for two-year-olds up to prekindergarten age is also onsite.

Nicolas, a native of South Africa, and his wife met when Misty was 18 years old, working in a youth ministry in Palm Beach Gardens. As a young teen, she was required to volunteer in a preschool, cleaning walls as penalty for a school suspension. The discipline opened her eyes to a career in childcare that has paid off with intangible dividends.

LEARNING VALUES CAN BE FUN
On a mission to instill sound, moral principles to children of this generation, the couple is dedicated to providing an educational foundation built on qualities marked by leadership, virtue and enrichment while keeping it fun. Teaching from a biblical worldview, children learn the values and ethics centered on a faith in God.

“There’s not a time when our buildings are not being used,” Misty says. The doors open at 6:30 a.m. for public school student drop-off; infants and preschoolers arrive as well. Club Pure Academy hours are 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. When students return in the afternoon, they receive a healthy snack and complete their homework.

On Mondays and Wednesdays, boys and girls attend elective clubs at the youth center: creative, dance, leadership or extracurricular STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) groups. During Fresh Start, the group participates in a character lesson based on the peer value word of the week. Sleepovers and kids’ night out are also held during the year.

A former Goodwill store is home to Club Pure Academy and preschool. The 15,500-square-foot private care facility is a haven for working parents whose schedules must fit school drop-off and pick-up times for their children. The center has age-appropriate learning frameworks, beginning at infancy through eighth grade, designed to optimize the developmental stages of the young child. High school students are offered counselor-in-training positions, earning community service hours. Post-graduation, successful candidates are then offered a staff position.

Tuition is affordable, and a menu of services is flexible. Annual registration is $25. Plans offer a basic before- or after-care membership that includes early release days, clubs and transportation starting at $55 per week. The all-inclusive plus package offers full services for $70 per week. Part-time and daily drop-in fees are also available.

Club Pure Preschool is a family-oriented facility that inspires and encourages children to creatively explore their world through sensory cues. Babies learn sign language during high-chair feedings where ideograms are posted on the wall for simple sight reading: ‘happy,’ ‘drink,’ ‘more,’ ‘please,’ ‘thank you’ and ‘finished’ are examples. Spring boarding on a child’s natural curiosity, play involves direct interaction with an emphasis on exploration and language development.

The preschool provides a well-balanced complement of structure and love. Its environment is clean and bright with a pod-style connection between the infant nursery and the toddler rooms. The atmosphere is serene, infused with elements of nature; fresh scents can be detected from mild aromatherapy pots as soft music plays. A resource teacher supports the infant/toddler caregivers, preparing lesson plans, extracurricular schedules and other items as needed.

Voluntary Prekindergarten Education (VPK) is a free, state-sponsored program for four- and five-year-olds who reside in Florida. Eligible children must be four years of age on or before September 1. The program assures that four-year-olds have an edge when they enter kindergarten.

A high-quality early education offers language and social skills with better adaptation needed for pre-reading, handwriting, math and science. It also brings out the inborn sense of wonder in a child and a love of learning, amplifying intelligence and critical thinking.

Club Pure uses conscious discipline techniques popularized by early childhood education expert Becky Bailey and based on current brain research, child development data and best educational practices. The child is taught how to self-regulate and is helped to communicate feelings in healthy ways. Parents who employ conscious parenting methods often begin when their babies are toddlers.

Through this approach, young children learn core life skills. The premise of “training a child in the way they should go …” is characterized by self-discipline from within rather than applying stern discipline from an adult. The reward- and punishment-based discipline is eliminated.

FAMILY STABILITY
Using effective communication, family members are shown respect and dignity with a commitment for them to be heard and have their needs met. Working through stressful situations like a health crisis, job loss or death of a family pet provides a basis of security backed by extended support systems, which are vital to a functional family.

In healthy families, conscious discipline drives emotional intelligence. Impulse-based behavior and its aftermath are avoided as teachable moments are captured to redirect negative behavior, resulting in more automatic self-control, conflict abatement, better social interactions and a greater boost to self-esteem.

For children, studies show that trusted relationships with adults wire the brain for improved impulse control and a willingness to cooperate. Families who practice loving discipline are more successful at conflict resolution, time management and establishing healthy boundaries. Setting achievable goals for a child builds confidence in decision-making processes and pride in their accomplishments.

“Positive adult guidance offers open communication and the ability to understand the child’s point of view,” Christie Krueger, program coordinator, says. “Active parental involvement is the key to any child’s future success.”

TEAM EFFORT
A team of seasoned educators, committed to dependable childcare that is engaging and comprehensive, takes into account individual learning styles. Following cognitive targets for every age level, they are able to release the limitless potential in each child with unlimited possibilities.

“Club Pure employs over 35 staff members in full- and part-time positions,” says Krueger. “Our professionals hold certifications and degrees in education, criminal justice, psychology and satisfy the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) requirements for childcare and continuing education throughout the year.”

At Club Pure, student success is based on a structured and safe environment. Parents fit into the equation as well. Family dynamics play a critical role in the development of a child. Parents and guardians working with education providers build an enriched, relevant, and respectful learning experience.

With clear expectations, Club Pure teachers are able to manage classrooms where multiple activities occur with minimal confusion or wasted time. As a result, student efficiency and habits have a sure footing from the time they enter through the door.

Fun abounds, too, at Club Pure. Winter, spring and 10 weeks of summer camp bustle with activities: field trips to places like the Benihana restaurant and the Indian River Aquatic Center enrich the experience.

“We partner with community agencies to render services that strengthen families, offering childcare services to families in stress, no matter the circumstances,” Krueger says. “We work with the state-approved Early Learning Coalition in St. Lucie County, providing assistance to low-income families who are eligible for the food program. Our preschool catering company serves hot meals and snacks that are tasty, fresh and healthy.”

Krueger adds: “For developmental delays or concerns, we refer parents to Child Find, a resource of the Florida Diagnostic and Learning Resource System. We are looking into including services for special needs preschoolers on the autism spectrum in the near future.”

Parents in need of financial assistance with a household income of less than $75,000 can qualify for 50-percent-off tuition.

For information about annual registration, sibling discount, tuition agreement and full- or part-time membership fees or to learn more about Club Pure Academy and preschool, contact Christie Krueger at 772-429-0031.