A teacher and four early learning school students lay on their tummies drawing on paper with color pencils.
ELS child playing in a sandbox

Our school’s philosophy is a constructivist, child-centered approach in which our educators co-construct learning with the children. We view children as competent and capable of observing the world around them and learning through experience. This approach is centered around relationships; the relationships that are formed between teachers and students, students and their environments, peer to peer, and throughout the community.

We draw inspiration from the schools in Reggio-Emilia, Italy. However, this does not make our school a Reggio school! Our students exist within their own context, as part of the world and their community. The realities of being a young child in Denver, Colorado, informs our teachers practice in the classroom.  All individuals and their unique families are honored and given a voice within our school community.

We view our educators as researchers, guides, and learners. Our team encourages play and exploration and uses observations from these activities to inform meaningful learning experiences. The process of learning is our focus – not the product! By using the children’s interests to design learning, we will never have the same school year twice. Students will be exposed to many different early literacy, science, and numeracy concepts, all while developing a love for the process of learning. Children communicate through “one hundred languages”, and so our educators offer many mediums for their students to express themselves. 

A group of ELS students look upon a series of X-rays that are backlit by a bright window.
Table with various colored balloons filled with paint

To honor the individual and create an inclusive space, our classroom walls are covered with documentation of each students progress. This communicates to the children that their work is importantalso, it allows the educators to reflect on the work of the children, which helps to inform future planning. The documentation itself shows the community of families and caregivers what the children are working on, offering an entry point for family and student conversations.  

Our school is centered around the social and emotional development of children. We believe in Tikkun Olam, the responsibility of all people to repair the world. By encouraging children to be thoughtful and considerate of others, to notice and respond to the needs of their community, and care for themselves, we believe the world will be a better and more kind place. 


This framework was designed by the JCC Association of North America and is implemented in all JCC early learning spaces.


  1. Children as Constructivist Learners
  2. Early Childhood Directors as Visionaries
  3. Early Childhood Educators as Professionals
  4. Families as Engaged Partners
  5. Environments as Inspiration for Inquiry
  6. Discover CATCH as Sh’mirat HaGuf (taking care of our bodies)
  7. Israel as the Story of the Jewish People


  1. Masa: Journey (Reflection, Return & Renewal)
  2. B’rit: Covenant (Belong & Commitment)
  3. Hit’orerut: Awakening (Amazement & Gratitude)
  4. K’dusha: Holiness (Intentionality & Presence)
  5. D’rash: Interpretation (Inquiry, Dialogue & Transmission)
  6. Tzelem Elohim: Divine Image (Dignity & Potential)
  7. Tikkun Olam: Repair of the World (Responsibility)

At the Denver JCC Early Learning School, we believe in organizing our core values through seven Jewish lenses. These lenses inspire us and inform all aspects of our practice. They act as a compass, navigating our interactions and providing us with a language to articulate our shared vision for our youngest citizens and future generations. The lenses are at the heart of our approach and perfectly overlap with our Constructivist inspired philosophy.

Here are just a handful of examples of the ways the lenses live in our school:

The lenses impact both our work and the physical spaces we occupy. For example, the Jewish lens Masa encourages reflecting on the past to inform our future choices. To practice this, we regularly reflect on our learning by writing blogs and creating wall documentation that tells the story of our educational journey. By doing so, we are able to create a tool that can be used by children, educators, and families to reflect on our learning and gain a deeper understanding of ourselves and the world around us.

The Jewish lens K’dusha reminds us to bring sanctity and intentionality into our practice. This lens guides us in our celebration of Shabbat at the end of every week, giving Shabbat a feel that is different from the rest of the week, a day that we deliberately slow down to intentionally enjoy one another’s company. It’s a day that we invite families to join us in communal song and eat braided challah bread to remind us of life’s sweetness. Together, we ritualize the lighting of the Shabbat candles to signal educators, students, and families to replace the rigors of the regular week with the gentle joys of early childhood.

We believe it’s important to think with children how to be responsible citizens who care about the world around them. The concept of Tikkun Olam is a Jewish lens that teaches us to make the world a better place by repairing it wherever it appears broken. In line with this value, we have incorporated sustainability into experiential learning; Read the article to see how the of lens Tikkun Olam lives in the school. Earth Month: Tiny Humans Making a World of Difference – JCC Denver

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We are more than a school – we are a community. Each child will get the chance to build life-long friendships and it is our hope that parents also have the ability to build their own community through meaningful relationships with other families at school.

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We believe in creating a community that knows each other by name, providing a safe a secure environment for the children. Our top-notch security team greets families during drop-off and pick-up each day. 24/7 video surveillance and keycard technology to access the building are additional measures we take to ensure our children stay safe.

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We strive to support the individual needs of our families and students while providing a safe, healthy, and inclusive social environment for the entire school. Conflict resolution and positive reinforcement are used to encourage desired behaviors. Partnering with families and outside therapists for any developmental challenges is our top priority.

We believe that collaborating together to meet the individual needs of children and their families creates a positive parent-school partnership. The Early Learning School is a place where all students and families can feel safe, nurtured, and accepted.

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Small class sizes make a big difference in your child’s early learning journey! At our school, we pride ourselves on maintaining an intimate and nurturing environment, ensuring that each child receives the personalized attention they deserve. With limited class sizes, our experienced and caring teachers can focus on the unique needs and interests of every little learner, fostering a strong foundation for academic and social development. Through this individualized approach, we create a warm and supportive community where children feel safe to explore, discover, and grow at their own pace.

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The Judaic Educator at the ELS collaborates with children, teachers, families, and the community to offer meaningful learning experiences using Jewish lenses and modern learning skills. Jewish curriculum is provided for teachers around the Jewish holidays, incorporating an anti-bias philosophy to help us be mindful of our vision for full inclusivity. Judaism is woven seamlessly into our constructivist learning environments. Open ended materials, ritual objects, songs, and books based on Jewish values are offered, and children are observed by our educators, who then reflect on each child’s experience in order to honor the interests of the students.

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Swim Readiness

Children in 3 and 4-year-old classes enjoy a weekly water readiness taught by JCC swim instructors. In addition to being fun, children learn about water safety and important self-help skills such as dressing themselves and being responsible for their own items.

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Nature and Technology

The Nature and Technolgy program was designed to nurture and encourage the relationship between young children and the natural world with the hopes of inspiring the next generation of stewards. The Nature and Technology educator leads children in caring for the garden spaces, facilitates inquiry-based discussion, bridges the disconnect that children have with their food, and encourages children to look through a sustainability lens.

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Extended Care

We offer extended care in the morning from 7:30 am-8:30 am and the afternoon from 3:30 pm-5:30 pm. These extended hours are meant to support our families around their work schedules.

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Shabbat Sing

Every Friday we welcome the children, families, and the community to join the school in a celebration of Shabbat. We do this through music, prayers, and storytelling.


Whether you are an expecting parent, new family, or new to town, discover how a journey with the JCC Early Learning School may be right for you.