Self-help childcare

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No place for daughter so Hughes sets up Montessori


A Queenstown dad who couldn’t find a childcare centre for his two-year-old daughter is starting his own.

Guy Hughes, 45, will open a Montessori centre for three- to six-year-olds opposite Queenstown Primary in the former REAP House on Robins Road before the end of the year.

Hughes bought the ex-REAP property three years ago as an extension for his language school next door.

But after looking for a childcare centre for two-year-old Lexie, and finding they were all full, he realised he had a solution under his nose.

“I had a building already consented for education, including early childhood education, so I thought I’d open a facility.”

He’s chosen to open Queenstown’s first Montessori because he likes its different education method – “it’s very creative and allows children to develop as individuals”.

“Kids learn from each other and mix in different age groups.”

It’s also an international brand that will appeal to overseas-born Queenstowners, Hughes says – his daughter currently attends a Montessori-focused school in Prague in the Czech Republic, where his wife hails from.

Arrowtown formerly had a Montessori preschool but that’s now operated by ABC Learning Centres.

Hughes’s premises are consented for 20 children: “It won’t [completely] fill the gap but will alleviate a bit of pressure.”

The local childcare shortage has become so dire in recent years – with long or even closed waiting lists – that some families have left the resort, while some women have been enrolling future offspring before becoming pregnant.

Hughes originally hoped to cater for 40 kids but requires more parking – there are only three parking spaces at present.

Class hours will be Monday to Friday 9am-3pm but the premises will open at 8.30am and close at 4pm for working parents.

Using a large garden area, Hughes plans a strong “eco-focus” including a worm farm.

He’ll charge a $3 an hour Montessori premium on top of the Government’s 20-hours-a-week-free subsidy – and $15 an hour after that.

Meanwhile, fellow local Mike Stewart aims to open his new childcare centre near Queenstown’s CBD next April or May – the 45-child facility in Henry Street is already fully booked, Stewart says.