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Training your kids brains

Randy WyrickVail CO, Colorado
Kira Horvath/khorvath@vaildaily.comSarah Chilton, 9, left and Nick Santaniello, 11, quiz eachother on their math problems at the new Gideon Math & Reading Tutor Center at the Eagle River Presbyterian Church in Avon. In back is tutor Sandra Burner working with another student.
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VAIL People like to do what theyre good at.Your little Jane and Johnny want to be the class brainiacs in school but need a little coaching the academic equivalent of weight training.The good folks at the Gideon Math and Reading Center know how you feel. Theyre mostly parents, and most of them have felt that way themselves.They launched five locations around Eagle County, putting help within walking distance of just about every kid in the county. Its open to any kid from any school.Its strength and conditioning for the academic world, said Sandra Burner, whos director of the local centers.Gideon was founded in Texas and has spread to several other states. MarkAnne Millburn owns a franchise in Denver with two locations. Long-time local Charlie Alexander ran his kids through it and encouraged her to drop a couple of locations into the Vail Valley. Millburn partnered with Burner, who spent most of the past decade as local teacher and administrator. They opened last year.Its supplemental education, not just tutoring, Milburn said.As a former teacher, I know that your childs teachers are doing everything they can, said Millburn, one of the centers founders. Theyre being asked to differentiate the learning styles of every kid. It was rewarding being in the classroom, but theyre moving so fast that some students cant get everything. We support the concepts theyre being taught.

Burner, who has her own career/family/life deal to juggle, pointed out that the last thing any parent needs is some massive, labor-intensive program that saddles you with yet another thing to do at night.The Gideon folks thought youd be glad to hear that, because their program is nothing like that.They start with free placement testing and give the kids some daily timed drills and work they can do in a few minutes a day, just like you would for music or sports, only not as time-consuming. You can do it in the car, and if you live in the Vail Valley, you likely spend as many waking hours in the car as anywhere else.Kids are all over the map, Burner said. We start them where they are and build from there. Kids can excel well beyond grade level.They deal with math skills and math facts, reading comprehension, grammar, language arts, spelling, vocabulary and test-taking skills.They take the foundations of an academic curriculum and build on it at the students own pace, moving them to grade level and beyond. Since its self-paced, students can quickly catch up and then move beyond grade level and stay there.It costs between $95 and $220 a month, depending on how many subjects and how many you sessions you sign up for. It runs all year round.Placement testing is free.Instructors include Nancy Whitley, Karen Werner, Burner, Nancy Reid, Millburn, Travis Whitley, Patti Thorton and Adele Alexander.


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