22 Top Denver Preschools for 2022
Kickstart your search process with some of the top-rated preschools in Denver, CO
When it comes to our kids, sometimes it takes a village -- and today, we hope to become a part of yours. Our team of parents read through 1,557 Denver preschool reviews, so that you don’t have to.
With over 375 early education providers in the Denver area, it’s sometimes hard to figure out which one is the best preschool for your child. And, there’s no one-size-fits-all list that works for everyone.
As we read through hundreds of reviews together, one core thing stood out: there are so many amazing preschools, teachers, and staff in Denver that genuinely care about their children. They go above and beyond to provide kids with high-quality preparation for elementary school -- and life in general. So many of these reviews just melted our hearts.
Consider this guide a starting point. We couldn’t feature every top preschool in and around Denver, but below are some of the most highly-rated preschools based on parent reviews across the web.
If you have any questions before you dive into specific schools, check out our Common Preschool Questions section below.
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Children’s Learning Center
The Children’s Learning Center is loved by parents and children alike — reviews often mentioned how emotionally difficult it was to say goodbye and move on to primary school. The teachers are praised for being caring and sweet, while the facility is credited for its “impeccable” cleanliness and its shaded and secure outdoor area. Parents felt safe at the Children’s Learning Center during the pandemic, too, because of the staff’s diligence toward cleanliness and safety protocols. Lastly, the highly structured curriculum and dual-language English and Spanish teaching earned accolades from more academically-inclined parents.
The Children's Learning Center (CLC) has been in operation since 2015 and offers full-time classes Monday to Friday from 7 AM to 5 PM. The preschool program focuses on teaching kids social, physical, creative, and cognitive skills through self-discovery and hands-on learning. One of the core philosophies at CLC is that kids should learn through play, which is the cornerstone of the curriculum. CLC is proud to offer dual-language classes that teach kids to speak Spanish as well as English. One of the nice benefits of the CLC is that breakfast, lunch, and snacks are included in the cost of the tuition.
How exactly does a school earn an award for being aerodynamic? By being inside of an airplane! Parents and kids at Iliff preschool can’t stop talking about how one of the classrooms is a converted DC-7 airplane named “Charlie 21.” Parents say their kids bolt out of bed and rush to “airplane school.” In addition to this awesome and unique feature, reviews also mention how teachers partner with parents to help children succeed with emotional skills, social skills, literacy, science, and math. It’s also praised as a great school for working parents and for helping kids “soar” to new heights.
The child-centered, play-based curriculum at Iliff includes core subjects such as literacy, math, science, social studies, and interactive media. The teachers at Iliff specialize in spending one-on-one time with the children to assist them with their individual needs. The integrated Building Language for Literacy (BLL) program is renowned for helping preschool-age children excel at reading and writing. In operation since 1963, Iliff has a proven track record with almost 60 years of experience in early childhood education and is one of the only preschools in the state to offer outdoor learning labs where kids can learn outside.
Positive Alternative Preschool
Leaving kids at a daycare or preschool isn’t easy, but parents at Positive Alternative Preschool don’t have that problem at all. According to their glowing reviews, Positive Alternative Preschool feels like family. Kids make friends here with ease, eliminating a common stressor for busy parents. Frequently mentioned in parent reviews is the low staff turnover, with some teachers racking up 20+ years at their posts. The director, Marcia, comes up often, both for her hard work and because her mom founded the school 30 years ago. Parents also like the big indoor gym, the quality of the food, and neat features like sibling discounts.
Founded in 1986, The Positive Alternative Preschool (PAP) is a family-owned and operated preschool that teaches kids the core building blocks required for academic success later in life. Featuring five classrooms, two large outdoor playgrounds, and a large gymnasium, the center is equipped with everything kids need to succeed while having fun at preschool. A 12-passenger van enables PAP to facilitate a number of different field trips throughout the year, and two snacks plus lunch are offered daily and included in the cost of tuition.
Crestmoor Learning Center
Time and again, parent reviews of Crestmoor Learning Center tell the same story: a child who is shy, acts out, or struggles to make friends turns around after joining this school. They made a gaggle of friends, their behavior improved, and they all became excited to get up and go to school every morning. Parents also sing the praises of Crestmoor’s varied activities, which include academics, art, Spanish immersion, fun projects, music, park days, water play, you name it. The school is also recognized for its low teacher-to-child ratio and the loving, compassionate, and creative teachers that are so plentiful.
Crestmoor Learning Center aims to provide a social and creative environment where preschoolers can learn vital life skills and gain a strong academic foundation for the years of study ahead. All of the group leaders and teachers in the program are fully trained and licensed. The curriculum includes subjects such as physical development, math, science, language, and music. The program also focuses on teaching kids social-emotional skills such as the importance of communication, self-confidence, and articulating their feelings. Crestmoor also offers a Spanish language immersion program, and all meals and snacks are included in the cost of the tuition.
Primrose School at the Denver Tech Center
The reviews for the Primrose School at the Denver Tech Center all have a common thread: just how exciting the program is. Parents love the stimulating activities that teachers put together, which are said to be adapted to each child’s needs. Primrose is also frequently praised for its constant, caring communication, specifically how responsive and transparent the teachers are. The early child development program, in particular, is called out for being fantastic and for really emphasizing the “early” part: kids are accepted as young as 6-weeks.
Founded in 1982, the Primrose School at the Denver Tech Center offers a balanced learning approach that promotes curiosity, confidence, creativity, and compassion. The preschool curriculum at Primrose includes subjects such as language and literacy, math, creative arts, social studies, science, and engineering, as well as social and emotional development. Primrose also offers three specialty preschool programs: the Mucho Mundo program teaches kids a second language, the Primrose Early Art Masters program introduces kids to the works of the most famous art masters, and the Harmony and Heart program teaches the children to sing and dance.
The Learning Experience
The Learning Experience in Westminster is cited by parental reviews as a school where their children experience a wide, formative education that sticks with them. The staff are relaxed and professional, according to parents, and teach a variety of subjects like Spanish, sign language, art, journaling, painting, and world culture. Parents found the school’s app to be particularly useful, which allows teachers to send pictures and updates for their kids’ activities right to parents’ smartphones. One mom was blown away that her young child’s class was able to paint the Great Sphinx during their Egypt unit.
Founded in 1980, The Learning Experience has been preparing kids for a bright academic future for over thirty years now. The proprietary L.E.A.P (Learning Experience Academic Program) curriculum for preschoolers includes learning a second language (Spanish or Mandarin), physical fitness, STEM, a phonics program, and a philanthropy program that teaches kids the importance of sharing and selflessness. One notable feature of the L.E.A.P program is the Show and Tell App that allows parents to receive picture notifications and updates throughout the day. Additionally, much emphasis is put on learning vital cognitive skills such as sequencing, storytelling, and writing.
NinaBees Nature Explorers
NinaBees Nature Explorers earns parents’ admiration with an environment they say consistently nurtures all aspects of their child’s growth. Parents say they find the teachers don’t talk down to the kids and instead focus on creating a calm, kind, and trusting atmosphere for learning. Kids and parents alike seem to cherish the play-based curriculum that exposes kids to nature, gardening, composting, and in-and-outdoor play. Reviews of NinaBees applaud how the school also teaches handy life skills and even focuses on the importance of routines for daily life that kids carry with them for years afterward.
NinaBees is the preschool program offered by the Highlands United Methodist Church. The goal of the program is to teach children to learn through indoor and outdoor play. With courses that focus on social, physical, intellectual, and language-based learning, kids who attend preschool at NinaBees develop a well-rounded foundation for further academic study. Open from 7:30 AM to 5:30 PM, the program guarantees that all instructors are fully licensed and background checked. One other notable feature of the program at NinaBees is that it teaches kids a basic personal care routine that instills the importance of being independent and looking after themselves.
Apple Tree Christian Preschool
Apple Tree Christian Preschool wins our award for "Most Enriching" because, in their reviews of the school, parents found a place where their children could be nourished mind, body, and soul. Parents often mentioned how the school teaches values like friendship, forgiveness, and love alongside the rigorous study of science, music, phonics, art, and Spanish. The small class sizes come up often as well, as do the wide selection of holiday activities like Easter Egg hunts, Halloween Trunk or Treats, and the Christmas program.
The Apple Tree Christian Preschool is a Christian childhood development program that focuses on teaching kids in a balanced way, with half of the lessons being child-centric and half being teacher-guided experiences. Apple Tree offers both half-day and extended-day programs with two-, three-, four-, and five-day programs. All of the programs’ teachers are state certified and were carefully chosen for their ability to provide a fun and safe learning environment for the children. The half-day program runs from 9 AM to 1 PM, while the extended day program runs from 9 AM to 3:30 PM, with an 8:30 AM drop-off time.
Espree Learning Center
Reviews of Espree Learning Center make it clear that parents adore their holistic approach to learning and child growth. One mom said the child-focused, teacher-directed curriculum empowered her children to take control of their own learning and feel a sense of ownership. The staff is often complimented for their dedication, low turnover, and provable academic qualifications. Espree’s in-house chefs and excellent food are mentioned often, too, for taking the stress of food prep off of busy moms. Kids and parents also prized the summer programs, which add daily swim lessons to the mix.
The preschool program at Espree is focused on teaching kids emotionally, socially, physically, and intellectually. The curriculum includes many subjects such as math, science, social studies, art, music, physical education, and much more. Additionally, the school aims to help kids refine their motor skills and also teaches music to the preschoolers. Espree offers both a half-day program that runs from 8:30 to 11:30 AM and a full-day program that runs from 7:00 AM to 6:00 PM. One additional feature of the program is that it also teaches the children to swim, which is a skill not commonly taught in other preschools.
Little Sunshine’s Playhouse
No parent wants their texts or emails to go unanswered or to feel like their kid is unreachable, which seems to be the guiding star of Little Sunshine’s Playhouse. In reviews, parents repeat over and over how easy it is to feel connected to their child here. Teachers send photos, messages, and updates throughout the day, and every single classroom and play area is equipped with cameras that parents love to check in on. Reviews also gush about the food (made by a chef on-site), the security of the school, its excellent curriculum, and its potty training program.
First opened in 2016, Little Sunshine's Playhouse is one of the most flexible preschools in Denver, offering a variety of different preschool schedules, including Monday-Friday, Monday-Wednesday-Friday, and Tuesday-Thursday. Boasting a play-first methodology, the program focuses on teaching kids self-awareness and self-help skills. The instructors will also make sure that the children know how to write their names, recognize letters and numbers, identify colors, and articulate their emotions. Each month the school offers unique projects to help the kids learn additional skills that will fuel their cognitive development.
More top-rated preschools near you
Depending on where in the Denver metro area you’re searching, here are some more of the highest-rated preschools by neighborhood:
Berkeley: Square One Learning
Centennial: Willows Learning Center
Lakewood: Concordia Lutheran Preschool
Thornton: A Child’s Touch
University Hills: Thrive Preschool at Plum Hill
Common preschool questions
The first time we had to find preschools for our kids, we had so many questions -- like so many. But don’t worry, we have your back. Here are the core questions that our team pulled together and researched. If there are any others, just reach out and we’ll be happy to help.You can shoot a message over to email@example.com.
When do kids start preschool in Denver? What’s the difference between preschool and pre-kindergarten? Is pre-k mandatory in Denver? What are my public school options for early education in Denver? What sort of license should I look for at a preschool in Denver? How can I get my family financial assistance for child care in Denver?
When do kids start preschool in Denver?
Most preschools start accepting kids around the age of 2.5 to 3 years old, but since every child is different, this isn’t a magic number. Preschool readiness really depends more on developmental factors than chronological age. Read more in our post here.
What's the difference between preschool and pre-kindergarten?
Preschool programs are generally for children between the ages of 3 to 5 years old. Pre-kindergarten is for the higher end of that range, usually for children 4 to 5 years old. Pre-kindergarten is generally timed for the school year directly prior to when the child would enroll in kindergarten. Many pre-kindergartens are also usually attached to elementary schools, so families have a smooth transition to enroll in kindergarten the next year.
Is pre-k mandatory in Denver?
No, pre-kindergarten is not mandatory in Colorado and is not a prerequisite for kindergarten. You can read more here from the Colorado Department of Education.
What are my public school options for early education in Denver?
Denver Public Schools (DPS) offers quality half-day and full-day preschool/pre-k for all 4-year-olds (regardless of income) across 80 DPS schools. If your little one turns 4 on or before October 1, they’re eligible. Tuition credits are offered to all families, on a sliding scale based on income. See the tuition rates here in English, and here in Spanish. Check out instructions to apply here. For 3-year-olds, there is a pilot program at certain DPS schools, and enrollment is not guaranteed. You can learn more here.
What sort of license should I look for at a preschool in Denver?
Denver preschools are required to hold a child care license and are regulated by the Colorado Department of Human Services, ensuring that they meet the required health and safety standards. There are some exemptions, though, and you can see them all listed here.
How can I get my family financial assistance for child care in Denver?
Paying for child care is expensive, and Denver does provide options for families to receive financial assistance for care. You can apply for assistance through the Denver city government child care website, found here. There are income eligibility requirements that you can see on the website. For example, for a family of 4, if your gross income (before taxes and deductions) is $4,968.75 or less, you’ll qualify.
If you have a 4-year-old that is heading to preschool, you need to check out the Denver Preschool Program (DPP), which is a nonprofit organization under a contract with the City and County of Denver that is funded by a sales tax. If you live in the city/county, and have a 4-year old, you’re eligible for a tuition credit no matter your income; to see how much you qualify for, check out their calculator here.
If you have a 3-year-old, DPP is piloting a similar program, but there are income eligibility requirements. Check out their eligibility requirements and calculator here.