About the Early Learning Academy

CEC Early Learning Academy students sitting in a classroom

Hours of Operation

Monday: 7:00 AM-4:30 PM
Tuesday: 7:00 AM-4:30 PM
Wednesday: 7:00 AM-4:30 PM
Thursday: 7:00 AM-4:30 PM
Friday: 7:00 AM-4:30 PM


Not only does CEC house a high school, but within the school walls is a five-star (as rated by Colorado Shines Early Learning) preschool program that is open to the community. Preschoolers ages 3-5 are eligible to enroll on a space-available basis. The preschool offers a dual learning environment at CEC. While the children take part in their lessons, the high school teaching careers class has the opportunity to observe and interact with the class in a student-teaching capacity.


We believe that play is the primary vehicle for and the best indicator of a child’s growth and development. Activities are designed to meet children’s individual needs and naturally developing interests. Our activities are developmentally appropriate and incorporate the Building Blocks to Colorado’s State Standards of learning. We encourage children to question, explore, imagine and problem solve each day. These skills build the foundation for future academic success. Our primary goal is to help children foster a love of learning.

Quality Rating

Colorado Shines is a statewide non-profit organization working with child care providers, parents and communities to improve the quality of early childhood education across Colorado.

In April 2022, we achieved a Colorado Shines Rating of FIVE stars. We are extremely proud to meet the highest level of excellence Colorado Shines evaluates for! To receive this rating and accreditation, centers must meet standards higher than those established by state licensing. These higher requirements help to ensure programs are providing a quality setting for children and families. Some of the efforts put forth in achieving this rating are;

  • We are 1 or only 10 schools currently in the city of Denver to achieve this honor, and have been working on improving our rating from a 4 to a 5 for over 10 years.
  • This school year alone we have participated in over 30 hours of coaching from the Early Childhood Council, 15+ hours per staff member professional development, and countless hours submitting hundreds of pages of program documentation, and a pain staking edit and review of all our learning materials and learning environment.
  • This year our program was selected to be given the elite opportunity to speak directly to Colorado Senator Bennet about the challenges facing a high performing preschools in the Denver area as well as the pressing sustainability concerns such as staffing shortages, advocating for ECE employees to be able to earn a livable wage, and the dire need for our state to address the cost-of-care for both parents and providers.
  • This year alone we have secured grants and supplemental funding to cover OVER 50% of our parents’ tuition obligations for the entire school year, helping make preschool affordable to more families.
  • This year we have been working with the Early Childhood Council to begin the process of creating a Early Childhood Education qualification achievement pipeline for early childhood educators being trained here at CEC Early College in connection to our preschool.
  • This year our amazing staff was showcased twice in Early Childhood Education trade journals for their exemplary use of play based learning materials to inspire higher level thinking and language development, and our innovative and authentic use of the Project Based Approach as displayed in this year’s project on travel.

For more information about licensing, please visit the state website.

Field Trips & Special Activities

We are extremely fortunate to be able to include 15-17 field trips each year.   We charter DPS school buses with special ECE 5-point harness seat belts. Parents and grandparents often jump on the bus and join us for field trips too!   We strongly believe the community can be our classroom and strive to offer our students a wide variety of field trip experiences such as farm visits, museums, plays at the Arvada Center and DCPA, Tiny Tots Orchestra, Zoo, tours and so much more!

The preschool also creates special activities with the families outside of the regular school day including our fall family night, holiday craft night, Valentine’s Day love breakfast, spring fling family event, and end of the year celebration.

Outdoor Play & Nature Exploration

Come rain or shine we get the children outside for a minimum of 60 min a day.  Our large fenced in playground offer the children a safe place to play outside every day.  We also explore and play at area parks, take walks, do activities in our outdoor courtyard.

Early Learning Academy Staff