Just in time for school Tutor Time will debut Arizona’s largest learning center in the city of Maricopa, to be located at the northwest corner of John Wayne Parkway and Edison Road.
The 25,000-square-foot facility will begin offering classes on Monday, Aug. 11. They have planned an Aug. 9 grand opening event.
Maricopa Tutor Time will be overseen by director Connie Johnson, who has a master’s degree in education and 10 years teaching experience.
Johnson was previously the director of the Ahwatukee Foothills Tutor Time and has taught in Alaska, Oregon and the Kyrene School District in Ahwatukee Foothills.
While she specializes in early education, Johnson says she enjoys teaching all age groups because "each age has something special about them."
The Maricopa Tutor Time is equipped with two new featured rooms.
The first is a media room where students can film, edit and burn DVDs of each other doing skits or news broadcasts. There are spotlights, cameras, editing televisions and a broadcasting desk. Children can learn to use advanced technology in the high-tech room.
"It’s incredible how technologically savvy kids are at such a young age," Johnson said.
The second is a science room. With a re-creation of the solar system overhead, students can conduct experiments together.
Johnson says science is important because kids learn a lot of vocabulary through experiments. Tutor Time will also have an after-school science club.
Each room at Tutor Time is a complete learning center, customized according to age group.
To add to the center’s creativity, a muralist was hired to hand paint pictures on classroom walls.
"It stimulates children when they can look around at pictures and not just blank, white walls," Johnson said. "The owners and developers have gone that extra mile to make this building kid friendly."
Each room has a hand-washing sink and restroom. The right side of the building is dedicated to younger children, with a special "diaper wing" for infants 1 and 2 years old.
The baby room is decorated with soft colors and soothing pictures. Full-size cribs line the walls and can accommodate up to 20 infants. There are always four to five teachers in the baby room to make sure each child is getting adequate attention.
"Children build synapses though stimulation," Johnson explained. "That’s why we always have eye con- tact with children and talk to them a lot."
Once infants are walking, usually between 12 and 14 months, they are moved to a transition room. Here, instruction is focused on sensory and motor skills. These rooms have climbing blocks, dolls and dress up, books, puzzles and soft toys.
Teachers keep milk and water in a refrigerator in the classroom, and distribute liquids during the day to make sure toddlers do not get dehydrated.
Toddlers have a special room designed for high levels of energy.
"You have to be on your toes and have 50 things to do for this age group," Johnson said.
Tutor Time will soon be implementing new curriculum for this age group, based on the latest educational research. Johnson said the main focus is language development through singing and art, as well as getting kids ready for preschool.
Preschoolers focus on writing and phonics, math and sensory development. The five preschool rooms have special lighted tables with different colored stackable chips that illuminate in light. Johnson said these help lay foundational math skills at a young age.
When kids leave the pre-school program, they will be able to write their name and have the basic math skills needed for kindergarten success, she said.
Tutor Time teachers use the LifeSmart curriculum that follows guidelines set forth by the National Association for the Education of Young Children. Students won’t see many worksheets at Tutor Time, but expect to use manipulative mediums.
"We like to teach the same theme through different media," Johnson noted.
Curriculum specialist, Julie Biddle, is always at the center to help teachers implement curriculum and adjust it to special needs.
Teachers also fill out individual ability profiles to chart skills. Instructors date when they observe specific actions, which help to identify skill levels. Staff provides daily links to parents on what children are learning, what they have been doing, as well as sleeping and eating feedback.
Each classroom from preschool up has four computers with educational games. For security precautions, these computers will not have Internet access.
Tutor Time offers private kindergarten instruction using the hardcore trophies curriculum.
"One benefit of private kindergarten is that the before- and after-school fees are included in the tuition," Johnson said, adding that because all children learn differently, the curriculum is adjustable on an individual basis.
For school-aged kids 5 to 12 years old, Tutor Time offers before- and after-school programs. They will pick up students from all Maricopa elementary schools.
The area for school-aged students has a drama room along with a large, open space for free time. This is the only class in Tutor Time allowed to watch television, but only educational programs, Johnson said.
The library at Tutor Time gives off a calming presence. Books are stacked from floor to ceiling along the walls. Johnson is very excited about the library and says she is trying to make it a warm, fun place for students.
"Some kids just go, go, go and that’s how they learn," she explained. "Others learn by looking at books."
In the future, students will be able to check out books from the library. Also available are backpacks that include a few books, learning games and a puzzle. Students can take the backpacks home for a week.
For children ages 2 and up, Tutor Time has hired a Spanish instructor. Using songs and puppets to teach, students are exposed to foreign language at an early age.
Outside the building, students can play on any of the three playgrounds. There is also a full-size basketball court and three putting greens.
On hot days, kids can cool off by running through the misting system.
"The mist is so fine that it just cools off the kids without getting them wet," Johnson said, adding that Tutor Time does not use sand or wood chips in their play areas.
For an extra fee, outside instruction in karate, gymnastics and fitness will be offered.
"This is for parents who want their kids to have exposure to these things, but may not be able to because they get out of work late," Johnson said.
Security is tight at Tutor Time. The building is always locked and staff checks the identification of each visitor. Parents must check students in and out every day, and must give a list of authorized people able to drop off and pick up children.
Using the Safe ’N Sound security system, staff has instant access to medical information, as well as documentation of drop-off and pickup times.
Each classroom has its own security camera that streams video to one of the 16 monitors in the front office. Johnson is able to monitor each classroom from the front desk, and parents are welcome to come watch their kids as well.
Johnson said some parents like to see how their children act when they are not around.
"We keep the building very secure," she said. "We also run fire evacuation and lockdown drills with teachers and with kids."
Tutor Time also has a full-size commercial kitchen with two cooks. Staff serves breakfast, lunch and both morning and afternoon snacks in the classrooms. Food is freshly prepared everyday. Lunch menus always have a protein, fruit and vegetable.
"We try to serve the most nutritious food that is also kid friendly," Johnson said.
Tutor Time has yet to finalize tuition costs for the Maricopa location, but says they should be underpriced compared to Ahwatukee Foothills and Chandler locations.
The center will also have extended hours, from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m., for Maricopa parents who have to commute.
Maricopa Tutor Time will have open enrollment from 8 a.m. to noon on Aug. 9. If you enroll that day, the $100-per-child registration fee will be waived. Registration is on a first-come, firstserved basis. Johnson expects 300 to 500 people on Aug. 9, and cautions that once classes meet capacity they are forced to start a wait list.
"I’m expecting a three- to five-month waiting list for infants by the end of the first day," Johnson said, adding that there is a need for quality educational care in Maricopa.
"Our goal is to make it so parents know they are leaving their kids in a safe place where they are comfortable and learning. We try to enrich lives."
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