Early Childhood

Preschool to Kindergarten

At Ricks Center, students enrolled in the early childhood program are actively involved in initiating and constructing their education. Given the opportunity to explore their interests and ideas under the guidance of our expert faculty, these students learn to think critically and creatively, identify and solve problems, and form a deeper understanding of the world around them.

Early Education

Ricks Center has created a thoughtful, developmentally appropriate program for our youngest students filled with hands-on learning and intellectual stimulation. Using an evidence-based curriculum that incorporates the strategies of Project Based Learning, Inquiry Based Learning, Connect4Learning (developed by DU faculty), and an overall influence from Italy's Reggio Emilia schools, Ricks Center delivers a distinctive and exceptional learning experience for our preschool through kindergarten students.

Popsicle stick furniture tutorial. Our daily rhythm. Our cozy corner. Classroom spaces for exploration and collaboration. Honing fine motor skills. All in a day's work.

A Day in the Life of the Skylarks

Play-Based Learning

Through play, children gain self-direction and self-motivation. They experience what it's like to make plans, set their own goals, and solve their own problems. Children become more self-reliant and self-assured when they are in charge of their own learning process. Through play, children gain freedom and autonomy. They are able to take more initiative and rely less on adults and teachers to show them "the right way." Play involves cooperation and negotiation, because if other children are unhappy, the game will end. Children have to learn to navigate varying social situations in order to keep their games going. Play is used by children to make sense of their world. Anything that a child is trying to understand or is processing will be shown through their play. In order to play together, children must learn to understand their own emotions and the emotions of their playmates.

Play can encompass a wide range of subjects, including but not limited to the following: math (when children are weighing objects, counting friends or pouring water), literacy (writing notes, looking at books, or hearing stories being read), science (mixing ingredients, floating objects, observing nature), and history (telling stories about their family, sharing important parts of their lives and drawing themselves or people they love). Through play, children may also develop qualities and skills such as curiosity, creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, courage, empathy, conflict resolution, compassion, enthusiasm, a strong sense of self, and tolerance of differences.



Through an integrated, project-based learning model, our youngest students explore subjects of interest as they expand their language, literacy, scientific, mathematical and social knowledge. Teachers challenge, inspire and encourage new ways of thinking, while small group activities foster collaboration and help build social skills as students learn to work side-by-side with their peers.


Our pre-kindergarten students have time every day for exploration and free play. They also spend part of each day in a focused, project-based curriculum incorporating Story Workshop and DU's Connections For Learning (C4L). These approaches draw upon a combination of play and children's love for hands-on activities to integrate science, math, literacy and social-emotional learning. Examples of interdisciplinary projects include "Our Environment," "How Structures Are Built" and "Growing our Garden," where students practice thinking processes such as cooperation, comparing and contrasting, close observation, and problem solving.


Kindergarten bridges our play-based early childhood approach and elementary school by continuing daily exploration through free play and hands-on projects while adding direct instruction in mathematics and literacy. With students actively constructing the scope and direction of inquiry, projects take on increasingly focused and in-depth pursuits as children learn to define their questions and means for making meaning. We use Story Workshop as a means for integrating the arts, play and literacy, as well as Bridges to Mathematics and the Workshop model for reading and writing instruction. Students have the opportunity to accelerate through this curriculum as guided by ability and interest.


Current Parents

For access to course materials, upcoming events and announcements, and classroom recaps, visit your child’s Schoology page.  

Ricks Schoology