Childcare Options in the Bubble: Tutor Time in Agoura Hills

IMG_3169A happy 5-year-old plays at Tutor Time in Agoura Hills. “It’s ME!” she said, when asked what she was drawing.

Last week I took a tour of Tutor Time on Clareton in Agoura Hills (on the way to the Post Office) to see what this childcare center and preschool has to offer parents and children. It’s been a while since my own kids were in preschool and I know this is a big concern for parents of young children, whether you need childcare while you’re at work, socialization for your littles, or transition to school in preparation for Kindergarten.

tutor time front deskFront desk and main hallway

My first impression of Tutor Time was that it’s big, spacious, and COLORFUL! From the moment you walk in you are greeted with bright primary colors wherever you look, and all of the areas of the center – the front desk, the hallway, and each of the rooms – have so much space that it’s easy to imagine a group of little kids enjoying themselves without being crowded. It’s a bright, clean, facility with smiling faces on all of the teachers and staff.

But especially, the kids.

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I saw plenty of children on my tour, infants up to 6-year-olds, and they were smiling and happy. They greeted assistant director Morgan whenever we walked into a room with love, joy, and hugs. To me, that says it all. The kids seemed happy to be there, delighted by their friends and teachers, and eager to launch into whatever activity was at hand.

Tutor Time has a Grow Fit® program that introduces healthy habits by encouraging balanced nutrition and physical activity in school. They provide a variety of healthy choices during meals and snacks and encourage children to try new foods. Parents are also welcome to sample the meals and snacks! The Agoura Hills Tutor Time also has a super cool app called PreciouStatus, which gives parents updates all day long about what their children are doing, eating, and experiencing at school. It’s a great resource to help parents feel connected with their children throughout the day.

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Tutor Time accepts children from infants all the way to Junior Kindergarten. Programs at Tutor Time follow the School Readiness Pathway, which was designed to address the specific needs of children based on their age and individual pace of development. Tutor Time strongly believes that education is not a one-size-fits-all experience and the School Readiness Pathway allows parents to create the most fitting path for their children. The baby room is a special place where each child has her own crib, people must wear shoe covers when entering, and children older than 23 months are not allowed – to keep the germs away! The Agoura Hills location sees children from infancy through to graduation, complete with cap and gown, and they track the children’s progress with a special binder full of their artwork and pictures of them. The director told me that since people tend to stay in Agoura Hills, the center has a family feel to it because the children who grow up there really do become part of their family.

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Educational activities, meals, and rest time are planned appropriately for each age level. In concert with parents, the staff helps ease babies off of pacifiers and bottles, potty train when they get older, and all children get naps and rest time. Tutor Time maximizes the full development of each individual child and recognizes how they learn different subjects in different ways. There are individualized lesson plans in each classroom, based on the specific abilities and readiness to learn of those students. Ultimately, the kids get a customized early education designed to work perfectly for them! Their activities and artwork are displayed prominently on the walls for the children to show off to their parents and visitors, and parents can repeat and practice some of them at home, too.

Preschool room at Tutor Time in Agoura HillsOne nook of the pre-K room at Tutor Time in Agoura Hills

Safety is taken very seriously at Tutor Time. When I visited, as a guest I didn’t have a passcode to the padlock on the front door, so I had to be let in by the director at the front desk. Whenever a teacher goes from one part of the center to another, she logs her presence on a time sheet so that there is a record of where she is every moment of the day. The same with the children. The teachers do a headcount whenever the kids transition from outside to in, and from one place to another. This location will soon be getting special real-time cameras that parents can use to check in on their kids during the day (password-protected!) as an extra level of security and to help parents feel in touch.

tutor time village spanishThe Village, where Spanish class was held

On top of the awesome playtime and instruction the kids get, parents can opt for special enrichment activities available for an extra fee, including cooking, karate, soccer, music, and Spanish class, which was in session during my visit. The students – who were so little and excited – seemed very engaged. The class took place in a special room at Tutor Time called The Village – a mock town with crawl spaces and a “road” where classes come to play indoors.

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Tutor Time is open year-round, Monday through Friday from 6:30 AM to 6:30 PM. (Summer instruction is called “summer camp” – what fun!) Parents can drop in during the day to visit, and they even have a special “Nursing Nook” for nursing mothers. Pricing info varies, so call the school for more information. Children can attend for full weeks, partial weeks, and partial days, too. Tutor Time Agoura Hills also offers after-school care to Kindergarteners (up to 6 years old) and many parents choose to pick their kids up during their lunch break and drop them off here since there is no transportation service (plus this comes in handy for early Kinder dismissal and those random days off that LVUSD always has).

Tutor Time
5108 Clareton Drive
Agoura Hills, 91301
818-865-0049 (if you get voice mail – don’t worry – this is the right number!)
tutortime.com

tutor time agoura hills

Thanks to Learning Care Group for sponsoring this post. All opinions, and my very brief wish to have another baby, are my own.

KidCloud – a Babysitter at the Mall (With Giveaway!)

Gate - AngledZaira Tinoco, the lovely owner of KidCloud, a drop-in daycare center at The Oaks Mall in Thousand Oaks, invited me and my boys to check out her newly opened location last month. My kids moaned and groaned – they hate leaving the house in general, and I can’t say I blame them. I don’t relish going to the mall the way the stereotyped suburban housewife does. But I was game to check it out, plus Tinoco suggested we have our meeting at We Olive, an olive-oil, balsamic vinegar, and wine-tasting shop at the other end of the mall, while my kids checked out the center.

KidCloud is located at the west end of the mall near Macy’s and the pet store on the second level. It’s basically a small indoor playground, where you check in your kids for $12 an hour. They take children from age 2 through age 10, and you get a discount for multiple kids. Need an hour to find a dress for that special holiday dinner, but shudder at the thought of trying on clothes while your toddler flees the dressing room as you’ve got your pants down around your ankles? Drop the kids at KidCloud and shop in peace. That’s the idea.

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Check-in is easy – you just fill out a form and a waiver and leave your cell phone number in case the caregivers need to call you while you are shopping. The caregivers are energetic and watchful, and go through rigorous training to be able to work at KidCloud. They supervise the kids as they play with toys or on the play equipment, watch movies, or even play on tablets or WiiU systems set up in the facility.

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I was worried that since my kids are older they would be bored. Then I assumed they would spend the whole time playing video games.

I was wrong.

The boys loved the ball pit and the giant plastic building blocks. They were at KidCloud for an hour and a half, and they didn’t want to leave when I returned to pick them up.

kidcloud block house

Since our visit 4 weeks ago, they have asked multiple times to return. “Don’t have any shopping to do, Mom?”

As the holidays are coming up and the mall might actually be useful to me, I might! And now you can win a chance to try them out for FREE. Enter here to win a 2-hour free coupon for a first-time user (one kid only) by leaving a comment between now and 11:59 PM on November 11, 2014, making sure to enter your email address. A random winner will be drawn from qualified entries and notified directly on November 12.

Readers of Agoura Hills Mom can try KidCloud with a 2-kids-for-1 offer just by showing this post when you sign in! Flash it on your smartphone or print it out and bring it in with you. Offer is good through 12/31/14.

 

Need Childcare? Check Out Cultural Care Au Pair

Have an extra room in your house but absolutely no free time, and not one bit of extra energy? Dreading the back-to-school childcare madness? Maybe it’s time for a live-in.

Cultural Care Au Pair

Some of us have family schedules that we describe as “insane,” “crazy-busy,” or “ridiculous.” I have used at least two of those labels if not all three at various times in my life. I’ve learned the hard way that I need to ask for help or let some things go. But I know that when school starts, we’ll go back to the daily mess of getting up early. Picking the kids from school. Bringing them to this/that/the other. Errands. Work. Cleaning. Sports. Homework and school projects. I’m already tired just writing this. Excuse me while I go take a nap.

I’m not complaining. (Well, not too much.) I know I have a pretty sweet setup, but I also know that many local families have multiple kids, two working parents, a single working parent, or blended families with more than two working parents. Sometimes even the kids are working too – lots of local youth have entertainment industry gigs, making the schedule even more hectic.

While daycare or nannies are great options, a live-in caregiver can help you around the clock. And Cultural Care Au Pair, one of only 14 State Department-licensed agencies, can help match you up with an au pair from another country who not only cares for your children and helps your household run smoothly, but also shares his or her cultural background with you. (Hence the “Cultural Care” in the name.)

Using a set program with a flat fee pricing schedule, au pairs (au pair is pronounced “oh pare,” and is French for “on par,” which means they are just about the same as a family member) stay with your family for one year, with the option to extend for up to 12 months. The agency can even help you find someone who is great with babies, or multiples, or children with special needs.

The company has made the selection process easy and in tune with today’s plugged-in parents. It starts with the company’s website, which allows you to view potential au pair profiles online – they even have videos introducing themselves so you can see what their personalities are like.

When all costs are considered over the course of a year, it amounts to about $8 per hour for a 45 hour work week. This low price has me fantasizing about having more free time, less frenzy, and a helping hand who is energetic and even educational, teaching my kids about life in Brazil, or Italy, or Thailand. We have an extra bedroom in our house so there is plenty of room, and instead of hiring a nanny who might need to drive to Agoura Hills from far across Los Angeles, we would have our caregiver right here!

If you find yourself scrambling for childcare and you want something better for your family, consider Cultural Care Au Pair.

This weekend there is one more reason to consider an au pair! New families who register from Friday, August 2nd thru Tuesday, August 6th, 2013 will receive a $75 waived application fee in addition to a $500 program fee discount when welcoming an au pair to their home by October 4, 2013. Plus, new families who select their au pair by August 26, 2013 will receive an additional $500 program fee discount – a total savings of up to $1,075. When registering, families should use the promotion code PCAF2013.*

This post is sponsored by Cultural Care Au Pair. All opinions and fantasies are my own, but I have a feeling you might start having them too.

*To qualify for the $75 registration fee waiver and the $500 program fee discount, families must be new to Cultural Care Au Pair, register from August 2, 2013, through August 6, 2013, and welcome an au pair byOctober 4, 2013. To qualify for the additional $500 program fee discount, families must finalize their au pair selection by August 26, 2013. Selection fee of $175 must be paid upon final au pair selection. Offer cannot be applied retroactively and may not be combined with any other program fee discounts (excluding host family referral bonuses). Program fee discounts must be applied at the time of registration, and may only be applied to program terms of 30 weeks or more.