Clayton Early Learning

Join Us for Culture Night at Clayton Early Learning

Emily Cutting

Posted by Emily Cutting


Emily Cutting

Every year Clayton Early Learning celebrates the diverse cultures of our staff, students, and families in our schools and home based programs with our annual Culture Night. This year’s event will be on December 16th and the central theme of the event is food with a focus on traditional recipes submitted by our community.  The five course tasting while occur in various classrooms and gives Clayton families and staff the opportunity to  come together to explore the culture and journeys of those around us.dsc00343

Food intersects between all things culture, and each culture tells a story of history, struggle and progress.  “Food is our common ground, a universal experience” said James Beard, an American cookbook author and columnist.  This year the tables at Culture Night will have cards with conversation starters to prompt discussion about what food means for our own families and ways food links cultures.  Some of these questions listed below you can also use with your own families during the holidays:

  • Where does this dish come from?
  • What makes this dish important to your family?
  • When do you typically eat this dish?
  • Was this dish passed down by someone in your family, or is it new?today i ate a rainbow dot com
  • What dishes do you look forward to eating the most around the holidays?

Clayton Early Learning is an inclusive school that places a strong emphasis on diversity.  We see differences as an opportunity for growth and learning and Culture Night proves one way to create this honorable space.  By modeling this for children, we give them another way to get that head start to success in the future in an increasingly diverse world.  Cesar Chavez said, “if you really want to make a friend, go to someone’s house and eat with him… the people who give you their food give you their heart.”


We look forward to eating with you on December 16th from 4:30-6:30pm!


Child Care and the Candidates: What You Need to Know for Election Day

Lauren Heintz

Posted by Lauren Heintz


Lauren Heintz


After three presidential debates, endless internet memes, and over $1 billion spent by the candidates, you’ve likely received your ballot for the 2016 election. With all the information about the presidential candidates that’s available, it can be difficult to decipher where they stand on the issues that matter to you and your family the most.

Reliable, high quality child care is a priority for many working families and is important to supporting our workforce and economy. Both Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump have released child care plans on the campaign trail, which is an exciting example of how early childhood care and learning is becoming a priority for our nation as well.

The plans the candidates have presented differ in the types of investments, programs, and strategies they would support. Below are summaries of the candidate’s child care plans, but to learn more visit their websites at and



Clinton Campaign

  • Make preschool universal for every 4-year-old in America
  • Significantly increase child care investments so that no family in America has to pay more than 10 percent of its income to afford high-quality child care
  • Improve the quality of child care and early learning by giving a RAISE to America’s child care workforce
  • Double our investment in Early Head Start and the Early Head Start–Child Care Partnership program
  • Expand access to evidence-based home visiting programs
  • Award scholarships of up to $1,500 per year to help as many as 1 million student parents afford high-quality child care
  • Increase access to high-quality child care on college campuses by serving an additional 250,000 children


Trump Campaign

  • Rewriting the tax code to allow working parents to deduct from their income taxes child care expenses for up to four children and elderly dependents
  • Allow parents to enroll in tax-free dependent care savings accounts for their children or elderly relatives
  • Provide low-income households an Expanded Earned Income Tax Credit – in the form a Childcare rebate – and a matching $500 contribution for their savings accounts
  • Creating a new, dynamic market for family-based and community-based solutions
  • Incentivizing employers to provide childcare at the workplace
  • Provide 6 weeks of paid leave to new mothers before returning to work

For other analysis of the two child care plans, check out some of these articles from around the country:

How the Trump and Clinton Child Care Plans Stack Up, New York Times:

What Clinton’s and Trump’s Child-Care Plans Mean for Parents, Washington Post:

Comparing Trump and Clinton's Child Care Plans, NBC News:

Where do the presidential candidates stand on child care and pay equity?, PBS:

Presidential Candidates Release Child Care Proposals—What This Means for Parents, Child Care Aware of America:


Filed under: Uncategorized No Comments

Summer Fun Safety Tips


Candice Leary-Humphrey

The summer months are a great time to get outdoors and let children explore the world around them. These tips will ensure that the fun doesn’t need to end due to sun damaged skin, dehydration or water-related accidents. Read on and have a safe summer!

Skin Smarts toddler-in-the-summer-315x315

The Skin Cancer Foundation warns that “Just one blistering sunburn in childhood more than doubles a person’s chances of developing melanoma later in life.” This means that no matter what a child’s skin tone may be, protecting their skin from the sun’s harmful rays is an absolute must. Here are some skin safety reminders for children 6 months and older:

  • Choose broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher.
  • Spray sunscreen is great for wiggly little ones, but should not be sprayed directly onto their face. Instead, spray the sunscreen mist into your hands first and then apply carefully to the child’s face and ears.
  • Apply sunscreen 30 minutes before going outside and reapply every two hours or after swimming and excessive sweating.
  • Use hats and sunglasses for extra protection

While sunscreen can be a wonderful protectant for older infants and children, parents and caregivers should avoid using sunscreen on babies who are less than six months old because the infant’s skin is still too sensitive for most sunscreens. Keep young infants’ skin safe by

  • Dressing babies in lightweight clothing that covers the infant’s arms and legs.
  • Dress infants in wide-brimmed hats that will protect their ears, neck and face.
  • Use a protective cover on your stroller to keep baby from being burned while out for a walk.



Click here for infused water recipes

Hooray for Hydration warns that summer heat can be a significant catalyst for dehydration; especially for children who “are less likely than adults to remember to drink fluid-especially when they’re having fun playing outside.”

Adults can encourage children to drink more water throughout hot summer days by

  • Keeping a water bottle handy. Kids are more likely to remember to take a drink if they see that water is available!
  • Serve hydrating snacks like watermelon, cucumber slices and popsicles made with real fruit juice.
  • Add fun flavors to your water with fresh fruit, like sliced strawberries, pineapple and oranges. This is a much healthier alternative to artificially flavored and dyed beverages like sports drinks and soda, which can contain a ton of sugar and are less effective in hydrating hot children.
  • Remind kids to stop and take a drink throughout the day.

Important reminder: Just like sunscreen, water is not safe for young infants who are less than six months old. Babies 0-6 months typically receive as much water as they need through breast milk and formula. Too much water can cause water intoxication. For more information about when to introduce babies to drinking water, visit

Safe Splashing

When children are properly supervised, water play is a fun way to beat the summer heat. While many adults are aware of the danger that is present at the beach or a swimming pool, caregivers must never forget that drowning can occur even in shallow wading pools and water tables. Whether you’re poolside or at home, these tips will help your family enjoy water play safely:

  • Give children undivided attention when playing in or near open water. Avoid distraction by putting cell phones away so that children are actively supervised at all times.wren_pool_small
  • Teach children how to swim.
  • If there are several adults present while children are playing in or around water, designate a ‘Water Watcher’ who oversees water play for specific increments of time to prevent any lapses in adult supervision.
  • Teach children to swim and play in water only when an adult is present.
  • Learn CPR so that you are able to assist if there is ever an emergency.

For more water safety tips and guidance about designating a ‘Water Watcher,’ visit

Filed under: Uncategorized No Comments

Men in ECE: Another Stereotype?

Samuel McCabe

Posted by Samuel McCabe


Samuel McCabe

For two months I’ve been putting off writing a blogpost on Men in Early Childhood Education (ECE). I spoke to other male coworkers in the field of ECE in preparation for this assignment, prepared notes from my conversations, and racked my brain trying to come up with a focus for a blog on “Men in ECE”. I still have no answers, but I do have a question: Why are men in ECE important? Or, better yet, why do we celebrate men who work with children?

At the beginning of the first all-staff meeting that I attended at Clayton, a standing ovation was given to all the males present in the room, for working in ECE. At the time I was proud, but as I started to unpeel the layers, like an onion, of what I thought it meant to be a male educator, I quickly realized how many stereotypes of the gender-job role were, well, stereotypes. As an organizational effort to embrace diversity in all forms, one of the most persistent stereotypes is the male teacher.

The assumptions of male teachers typically flow within the realms of communication, classroom management, and affect. “Strong leadership”, “firm discipline”, “stern tone”, “strong presence” are some of the terms I’ve heard people use to describe men in the ECE field. “Father figure” gets thrown around too, but what I imagine when I hear those words is a totalitarian dictator, not the educator of my 3 year old child. I believe most people are misinformed about what men in ECE really look like.

I recently had coffee with Soren Gall, the Infant, Toddler & Family Specialist at the Denver Early Childhood Council, to discuss what has become this blogpost. Two years ago, the two of us met to talk about this same topic, as Soren was gathering information from various men in the Denver area who work in early childhood education. Upon meeting this second time, we reopened the conversation. I had my notepad ready with a list of questions I had prepared for the interview. Soren wrote a Clayton blogpost on men in ECE a few years ago while completing his capstone as a Buell Fellow. The article highlighted male communication styles. As the conversation progressed, my list of questions grew. Who are these men in ECE? Why do they choose ECE as a career? Why are they so sought after by employers?

Soren and I came to a few conclusions. As male teachers, it’s a vital point to avoid common stereotypes that prevail in our own minds and through the image portrayed by the media. Men in ECE are a diverse group of individuals that come from a variety of backgrounds and bring with them a range of perspectives and approaches in and outside of their classrooms. In order to break down common generalizations, it is important to see male teachers as this diverse group. However, men in the field do have some similarities. They enjoy working with young children and are passionate about participating in their development and learning. Men in ECE understand their role in the social/emotional development of young children as secondary caregivers. Also, classrooms with both men and women educators provide young students with a model of communication and interaction that balances and celebrates the full range of human interaction.

My inquiry is still unsolved. Why do we as educators, parents, and school administration laud and praise the male ECE educator? What is so special about this demographic? How do we assess and answer this question, leaving aside the stereotypes of men working with young children, generalizations and assumptions about parents, and media portrayals of men?

In an effort to support further reflection and research on this topic, we have created the following survey to gather your feedback on men in ECE. Please follow the link below (or click here) and take a few minutes to fill out the survey. Your answers will help inform the conversation and drive the discussion around the upcoming “Men in ECE” blog series here at Clayton. Your participation is greatly appreciated!

Filed under: Uncategorized No Comments

The Process of Creating a Story Book

Peter Blank

Posted by Peter Blank


Peter Blank

Lorrel Esterbrook, Mentor Coach for Family Engagement at Clayton Early Learning, has years of experience working with various center and family based programs. In addition to overseeing the Play and Learn programs here at Clayton, she has a wealth of knowledge about the HIPPY program (read more about HIPPY here). She recently transformed this wealth of knowledge into a published story book rooted in the HIPPY curriculum, "What I Saw". I asked Lorrel about her experience in family engagement, her wonderful book, and life as a published author. The following is an edited version of our conversation.

PB: What drew you to a career in ECE and specifically home and family based instruction?

LE: While I was in college I started working for a community center in Denver’s Five Points/Curtis Park neighborhoods teaching art classes and job readiness skills to adolescents that were either already gang affiliated or at risk for drugs, violence, and gang affiliation. While doing that work the importance of family engagement became even more apparent to me. I also saw the critical role that programs like Head Start played in fostering parent engagement. Eventually I started working with a Head Start program and then I started working with a school based early childhood and family engagement program. That’s when I was introduced to home visiting. I was fortunate to work with a small but passionate team that was conducting home visits in three different languages to immigrant and refugee families from around the world. The families we served taught me about a wide range of wonderful family and parenting practices. Parents would sometimes ask me for “the right way” to parent their child. That broke my heart because it implied that they were in some way doing something wrong. My goal became honoring their cultural style of parenting while giving them a buffet of options they could try out as they learned the culture of their new home.

PB: When did you first get involved with the HIPPY program?

LE: As happens in our field, the grant for the ECE and parent engagement program I was working with ended. I stumbled upon a position as a HIPPY Coordinator for a county Head Start program. I knew HIPPY by name, but little else. Within a few days of accepting the position I was in Little Rock, Arkansas attending the HIPPY pre-service training for coordinators. By the end of the week I was hooked! HIPPY is rooted in some of my core beliefs. All parents want good things for their children. HIPPY strives to honor the parenting tools that families have already, and introduces them to new strategies to help their child learn and grow.

PB: You were a HIPPY coordinator for ten years and work as a National Trainer for HIPPY USA. How did you become involved with the program as an author?

LE: A few years ago the HIPPY curriculum underwent a major rewrite. That revision was led by a team from Clayton Early Learning including Michelle Mackin-Brown and Jan Hommes. My decision to apply for a position at Clayton was influenced in part by the positive experience I had working with this curriculum development team. Several HIPPY sites were selected to pilot the new curriculum and the site I was working with was one of those. In that capacity I had an opportunity to provide feedback to the curriculum revision team and helped rewrite the coordinators manual for the model. I attended a curriculum meeting at the HIPPY USA 2014 Leadership Conference in Washington DC. During that meeting there was discussion about updating the story books for the curriculum. We were asked for our thoughts on what was needed for a new story and I had a lot to say and a lot of ideas. A few weeks later I got a call from HIPPY USA asking me if I would like to try putting all of my ideas into book form. I was thrilled with the idea and jumped right on the opportunity.

PB: What inspired you to write “What I Saw”?

LE: “What I Saw” is about a kindergartner named Tasha who is nervous about talking in front of the class during show and tell. The teacher Mrs. Hart has asked all of the children to bring pictures of animals they have seen. Mrs. Hart provides encouragement and opportunities for the children to expand their language and learning around animals like birds, reptiles, amphibians, and mammals. Mrs. Hart accepts each child where they are at, while giving them opportunities for growth. This leads Tasha to feel more comfortable talking.Lorrel Esterbrook Book

I’m a huge animal and nature lover. When I was a kid I loved books about animals. I felt this was an opportunity to introduce some big vocabulary and science to preschool age children. I tried to pick a wide range of animals so that every child reading the book could identify with seeing at least one of those animals. But I also wanted to provide opportunities for children to be introduced to animals they might not have seen. I specifically chose the North American Wood Duck as one of the birds in the story. This type of duck was hugely important to me as a child and was considered endangered during the 1970’s. My family worked with and supported these ducks on our property as part of a species conservation plan. Because of the program my family participated in you can now see North American Wood Ducks living all over the country including Denver’s City Park.

All of the children in “What I Saw” are named and modeled after children in my own family and family friends. The teacher in the story is one of my HIPPY Mentors, Gayle Hart. Illustrator Debbie Clark, did an amazing job of portraying all of the characters. I wanted all of the children in my life to be able to look at the book and see a child that they could identify with on some level. Maybe they identify with a child because of the way they look, or they might identify with a personality trait, or the structure of the family.

PB: Why is it important that children have access to literature like this?

LE: There are three main points that stick out for me: First of all “What I Saw” is designed to prompt parents to talk with their children about the book. To ask children open ended questions. It models questions that parents can ask, it shows possible responses and how parents can build on their child’s response. Secondly it gives children an opportunity to learn some new big vocabulary in a very age appropriate manner. I love hearing children tell their parents “That’s a dog, it’s a mammal because it has fur”. Lastly, but maybe most important, I think it’s important for children to see themselves in the stories they read. As I said before, all of the children and the teacher are modeled on real people, people I love, respect and care about. Some of those individuals had expressed that they didn’t see people like them in children’s stories. I wanted to change that. I wanted those individuals to know how important they are and their unique qualities are to me.

PB: What advice would you give other education professionals who are interested in becoming authors?

LE: Have someone who can give you good honest and constructive feedback. Writing taps into your emotions. I put a lot of heart and soul into this story. Getting constructive criticism could have been a painful experience, but it wasn’t because the person in charge of filtering the feedback back to me took the time to honor and respect my feelings on my work. For every hour you spend writing you will probably spend ten hours thinking, researching, and problem solving. I think that might have been the biggest surprise to me. Children need to hear stories told from many perspectives and many voices. Add your unique voice and perspective to the world of children’s literature. Write about who and what you love.

PB: You are attending the upcoming HIPPY Leadership Conference next month. What is the focus of this conference? What is your role at this conference?

LE: The conference is held every other year and is an opportunity for HIPPY coordinators and staff to meet, engage in professional development and learn about new developments with the HIPPY model and curriculum. This year there will be a book signing event where some of the HIPPY authors and illustrators will be signing books for the conference participants. I will be co-presenting a workshop called “HIPPY Hacks”. We will be presenting and crowd sourcing ideas on how to save time, money, and sanity while running a HIPPY program.


You can find more information on the upcoming  HIPPY Leadership Conference by following the link.



Exciting Expansion at Children’s Museum of Denver


Candice Leary-Humphrey

When staff at Clayton Early Learning heard about a major expansion project at the Children’s Museum of Denver, we reached out to our friends at the museum to learn more! The museum’s Associate Director of Marketing and Memberships, Zoe Ocampo, gave us tons of exciting updates to share so that your family won’t miss out on any of the fun new exhibits that have been recently added or are scheduled to open later this year.

The Children’s Museum of Denver is already packed with great activities for children and families! What inspired this expansion project?

ZO: We’re glad that Colorado families enjoy visiting the museum and we want to be sure that we have plenty to see and experience for everyone that comes through our doors. As museum attendance has continued to grow (74% since 2003), we knew that we would need get bigger, too! For the last 7 years, we’ve committed to serious planning that’s included site visits, feasibility studies, consulting with community partners and a lot of fundraising. Ultimately, this is a $16.1 million expansion project that will more than double the size of the museum!

What kinds of new exhibits can we look forward to? Are any of them open yet?

Joy Park: An Outdoor Adventure is definitely my favorite exhibit that’s come from the expansion and it’s already open to the public. This exhibit is a giant, invigorating outdoor experience where children are immersed in unstructured, imaginative and independent play. There are awesome features including canyons, rivers, a fort building station and even a zip line! Joy Park is my favorite because it’s a total throw back to the days when kids could play outside until dark all on their own. Times have changed, but the need for open-ended play hasn’t; so we created a safe and exciting space where children could explore and imagine the way that many of today’s adults recall from their own childhoods.

Village of Healthy Smiles is also open now. This exhibit was designed to captivate imaginations while teaching kids and their grown-ups about the importance of dental health in a way that is fun and engaging. In the Village of Healthy Smiles, families really love “The Brush Together Cottage,” “The Tooth Fairy’s Workshop” and “Sugar Bugs Plaza.” Like all of our exhibits, this is a great example of how children learn through play and hands-on experiences.

The rest of our new exhibits are still being built, but they will be completed later this year. Here’s a sneak peek at the new exhibits that families can look forward to:

The Art Studio will be a 2,300 square-foot interactive art exhibit and gallery where guests will experience visual art with raw materials, a clay studio, collaborative painting projects, art-rich programming and a year-round Colorado artist-in-residence program.

The Teaching Kitchen provides a fully functioning kitchen where visitors will enjoy container gardens and an aquaponics system that teaches children about where their food comes from and invites families to prepare healthy foods together.140327_Childrens-Museum-Front

Then there are element exhibits that each focus on a different facet of our environment:

 Energy is a space where children will find, collect and use resources like wind, solar and fossil fuel through activity stations like rocket launching and a one-of-a-kind whoopee cushion wall!

Water is a 2,200 square-foot hands-in laboratory that replicates an urban water system. Young scientists will have myriad of opportunities to explore the properties of water, investigate flow and test complex ideas about buoyancy, density, displacement and cause and effect.

Altitude is a 3 ½ story vertical climbing structure that brings a Colorado mountain adventure right into the city. This exhibit offers a gondola, swaying rope bridges, hovering clouds and an ice-capped summit. After experiencing the Altitude exhibit, parents may discover that they have a climber-in-training on their hands!

Wow! We have a feeling that families will be really excited to visit Children’s Museum of Denver after reading about all of these new and upcoming exhibits. What tips can you offer for families when planning their visit?

ZO: Even though many of the new exhibits aren’t open yet, families should definitely come and check out Joy Park and our Village of Healthy Smiles while we continue working on the rest of the expansion. One insider tip for grown-ups is that if they’re looking to beat the crowds, sunny days tend to be our slowest times; although, with Joy Park open, that may change!. Also, a lot of families don’t realize that we’re open late on Wednesday nights-until 7:30pm! So Wednesdays can be a great time to stop in after school or work. I think that the most important tip for adults to remember is that the museum is designed to be fun for the whole family; not just kids! Parents and caregivers should definitely let themselves have fun with their children in our awesome exhibits. Not only is Children’s Museum of Denver a great place for children to play and learn, it’s also full of interesting facts for adults and provides a unique environment where children and their grown-ups can create amazing memories and discover new interests to share with each other.    

Thanks for all of this great information Zoe. We can’t wait to watch as the expansion continues to take shape!

Children’s Museum of Denver is a proud partner and participating site for the City of Denver’s 5 By 5 Program. For more information about this resource for families, click here.

To learn more about the Children’s Museum of Denver expansion and to read other museum announcements, visit

CMD Joy Park

Heavy work and water play is just one component of the new Joy Park exhibit at Children's Museum of Denver.


Filed under: Uncategorized No Comments

Fun Summer Learning to Help Children Avoid the Summer Slide

Shauna Scott

Posted by Shauna Scott


Shauna Scott

summer slide





Summer Slide

It’s often easy for parents/guardians to disregard the loss of skills or information their children learn during the school year during the summer due to the challenges summers off can create. Summer is a busy time filled with needing to coordinate child care that aligns with parents working schedules and planning trips or rides to summer camps or programs. This is unfortunate because according to the National Summer Learning Association, children can lose up to two months of learning, or 22% of those acquired skills and knowledge throughout that school year! This is alarming and discouraging because most often, teachers are then required to utilize the first month of the new school year re-teaching lost skills and information from the previous year. Ultimately, the more knowledge children lose cumulatively in those summer months year after year results in foreseeable broadening achievement gaps. If this loss is indeed measurable and predictive, surely there has to be a way in means of prevention.


One way to prevent the summer slide blues, as a parent is to talk to their teacher from that previous year and the new teacher for the upcoming year. Get materials or books to continue working with your child throughout the summer. Clayton parents have the added benefit of having a Five by Five pass. This program is provided free to all of our families by the Denver’s Great Kids Head Start office. The pass is distributed to all families in Clayton in order for all children to have access to most of Denver’s cultural venues free of charge. The main objective of the Five by Five program being all children having the opportunity to experience at least five cultural enriching experiences by the age of 5!

The Denver Public Library also offers a fantastic summer reading program. This summer it is called Summer of Reading. The program opens for registration 6/1 and ends 8/8. The opportunities are endless and parents are strongly encouraged to check it out! Parents can visit any local library to enroll their children. Children can attend exciting events throughout the summer and earn prizes by reading.5x5


It is imperative parents still keep to a schedule setting a small amount of time for educational activities daily. Two very important tips for summer educations learning-make the activities FUN and don’t overdo it! Parents must remember that they are their child’s first teacher and this means that as a parent, it means be willing to be a learner as well. Set aside a time each day for engaging learning activities or a reading time. Implement a goal system you can all agree on. An example would be to create a sticker chart and when it is all filled up, you can celebrate your child’s successes. This does not mean parents need to spend money on rewards. A reward system can include going to their local recreational center for a swim day or to any other venue included in the Five by Five pass. One important thing to remember is if the child starts to lose interest during the educational time each day, stop, praise their child for what they were able to focus on and start with enthusiasm the next day. Also, to encourage building on the child’s reading skills and not to let it diminish. Make reading fun by reading the same book. Create a mobile, report or a visual project such as a diorama on what was learned during that study.

Summer learning needn’t be complex, stressful or all time consuming. Most often, children will look forward to this time with their most important teachers-their parents! Rely on resources you already have. Below are some great resources parents can help jump start their summer learning journey with their children! For more ideas and fun summer learning resources, check out these great links: (enter Keeping Kids off the Summer Slide) (for information about the Five by Five program)

What are some of the fun ways you support your child’s academic growth throughout the summer?


Filed under: Uncategorized No Comments

5 Free Kid-friendly Festivals in Denver this Summer

Kristin Denlinger


Kristin Denlinger

1) Denver Chalk Art Festival

Kick-off your summer creativity with the Denver Chalk Art Festival! Chalk art is a fun medium that can be shared by kids and professionals alike. In the kids’ corner, kids can create their own art. Youth Groups will compete in a chalk challenge to help fund their school arts programs. The whole family can enjoy incredible works from award-winning street painters and live music throughout the festival.

When: June 6, 2015 (10am-10pm) & June 7, 2015 (10am-7pm)

Where: Larimer Square

More info:

Image via Denver Chalk Art Festival website

Image via Denver Chalk Art Festival website

2) A Taste of Puerto Rico

A Taste of Puerto Rico is the largest Caribbean festival in Colorado! This festival is more than 10 years old and this year there will be a special tribute to the father of Salsa, Frankie Ruiz, by his brother Viti Ruiz. The whole family can enjoy musical act and cultural offerings, not to mention delicious Puerto Rican food.

When: Jun 14 (11am-8pm)

Where: Civic Center Park, E. Broadway & Colfax

More info:

Image via A Taste of Puerto Rico Facebook Page

Image via A Taste of Puerto Rico Facebook Page

3) Sand in the City

You don’t need to drive far to get to the beach this summer! Sand in the City is a family friendly beach party. Master sand sculptors will make giant works of art. Adults can enjoy local craft beer and music while the Kid Zone is jam-packed with obstacle courses, bouncy slides, magicians and buried treasure!

When: Jun 27-28 (12pm)

Where: Ralston Park, 64th & Simms, Arvada Co

More info:

Image via Arvada Sand in the City Facebook page

Image via Arvada Sand in the City Facebook page

4) Colorado Dragon Boat Festival

In its 15th year, the Colorado Dragon Boat Festival has been praised as one of the Best Festivals in Denver! Festival spectators enjoy the ancient sport of Dragon Boat Races, traditional and contemporary arts performances that showcase Asian and Asian American talent and Taste of Asia food courts. A kids’ ‘Dragonland’ area includes children’s performers and storytellers and educational crafts. The whole family can enjoy ‘Gateway to Asia,’ described as a “portal into Asian culture” with demonstrations and performances.

When: July 18-19 (10am)

Where: Sloan’s Lake, Denver

More info:

Image via Colorado Dragon Boat Festival website

Image via Colorado Dragon Boat Festival website

5) A Taste of Colorado

A Taste of Colorado is a great way to experience some of the best food in Denver and end your summer with some family fun. Five stages will feature regional and national performers and a large Arts & Crafts Marketplace will be present. The Kidzone includes free craft activities and play equipment with music and magic. Families can learn about Colorado history together in the Festival of Mountain and Plain Area.

When: September 4 (11:30am-10pm), September 5, 6 (10:30am -10pm), September 7 (10:30am-8pm)

Where: Civic Center Park, E. Broadway & Colfax

More info:

Image via A Taste of Colorado Facebook page

Image via A Taste of Colorado Facebook page

Tell us your family's favorite Denver summer festival in the comments below!


Highlights from Colorado’s 2015 Legislative Wrap Up

Lauren Heintz

Posted by Lauren Heintz


Lauren Heintz

It’s not surprising that state midterm elections gain less attention and have lower voter participation than presidential election cycles. The campaigns are smaller, fewer town halls meetings are held, and voter turnout decreases. Yet despite there being less public interest in midterms, these elections tend to mean big changes on a state level as a large number of legislative seats and party control are up for grabs. In 2014, 46 states held elections for 36 governorships and over 6,000 of the 7,383 legislative seats. This resulted in 1,325 new state legislators being elected, 6 new governors, and 8 state governments switching party control.

Colorado was no exception to the midterm changes, as 83 of the 100 legislative seats and the state governorship were up in 2014. With the 24 new legislators elected, Republicans gained the majority of seats in the states Senate which created a split general assembly as Democrats control the state House of Representatives.

What does this mean for early childhood policy in Colorado?Crowd at Capitol SUFK15

First, it gives early childhood advocates the opportunity to create new champions for Colorado’s children and families in the legislature as new members and returning members in new leadership positions settle into their policymaking role. The midterm changes also mean that for any bill to be enacted into law in our state, it must have strong bipartisan support. With a split legislature a bill must successfully appeal to both the Democratic controlled House and the Republican controlled Senate, as well as be endorsed by the Democratic governor. While this does present some challenges, it also allows for a creative and thoughtful policymaking process.

Bills Impacting Early Childhood Issues

Policymakers considered a wide variety of bills that would affect Colorado’s youngest this session, ranging from assessment bills to maternal health to new funding strategies. Here are some of the bills that were considered this year on early childhood issues:

  • HB15-1001 would create and partially fund an early childhood educator development fund under the department of human services to help early childhood teachers get postsecondary credentials.
  • HB15-1020 and SB15-33 would provide funding to offer full day kindergarten to all Colorado kids. HB15-1020 would have used state general funds to support full day K while SB15-033 would have asked voters to approve retaining excess TABOR funds.
  • HB15-1024 would fund an additional 3,000 children as half-time or full-time preschool students through the Colorado Preschool Program, which currently allows over 20,000 children to attend preschool annually.
  • HB15-1079 would authorize general fund dollars to implement and administer the state teen pregnancy and dropout prevention program created in the department of health care policy and financing.
  • HB15-1111 would create the Colorado maternal mortality review committee to review maternal mortality cases that occur in Colorado, identify the leading causes of maternal mortality, and develop recommendations to prevent further deaths.
  • HB15-1194 would continue to expand access and funding for long-acting reversible contraception (LARC) and related services, particularly to low-income women statewide, as part of the department of health care policy and financing’s family planning efforts.
  • HB15-1221 would permanently extend the K-12 Parental Involvement Act which requires employers, except those of small businesses, to provide its employees a set amount of leave from work to attend their child’s academic activities.
  • HB15-1317 would establish the state pay for success contracts program, which is currently being modeled in Utah to support high quality preschool programming. Pay for success is a financing approach in which philanthropic or private investors provide the funding for a social program or intervention that has the potential to save the state money in the future. Investors are only paid back by the government if the program or interventions demonstrate success.
  • HB15-1323 and SB15-257 are two of over ten separate bills related to assessing students that were introduced during this legislative session, all of which varied widely in their structure and implications. These two bills are the main House and Senate education committee bills related to assessments and both versions continue the school readiness assessment as well as aim to lessen the burden on teachers by streamlining the tests.
  • HB15-1334 creates the legislative oversight committee on school finance to study tax policy issues relating to school finance and the components of a new school finance system. This year’s budget challenges highlighted the fact that education funding needs to be reexamined in Colorado to ensure that all students from preschool to higher education are receiving equitable and effective funding.
  • SB15-234 is this year’s legislative appropriations bill or the “Long Bill”. It includes greater investments in early childhood including increased funding for the Colorado Child Care Assistance Program (CCCAP), school readiness quality improvement, ongoing access to health care for vulnerable children, and new grant and loan opportunities to increase access to child care in underserved communities across the state.

What’s next?

Though many of the bills did not make it into law this session, they did allow legislators to learn more about the issues facing early childhood in our state and helped to start future conversations.  As we look forward to next year’s legislative session it’s important to keep in mind the split nature of our state government and to seek out bipartisan policy solutions that will help support the healthy, safety, and well-being of Colorado children and families.

Filed under: Uncategorized No Comments

Did you know that April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month?

Jennifer Smith

Posted by Jennifer Smith


Jennifer Smith

Every April, Clayton Early Learning participates in the national Child Abuse Prevention Month campaign. For more than 30 years, April has been recognized as National Child Abuse Prevention Month, a time to raise awareness about child abuse and neglect. This month is also a time dedicated to encouraging individuals and communities to support children and families while preventing abuse from happening.  Therefore; Clayton will have a month long calendar of events that we invite our families and the community to participate in with us.  Keep your eyes out for pinwheels, ribbons and classes!  Updates will be featured on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Child abuse is a topic many find challenging to discuss or even think about, but it's absolutely necessary to raise awareness about this sensitive topic; especially with the alarming statistics reported annually in this country. According to the Children's Bureau of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, approximately 3.1 million reports of child abuse were filed in 2013 over 679,000 of them being substantiated cases of abuse and neglect with over 1,500 of them ending in fatalities.  As I prepared to write this, I was shocked and saddened to read an article that included actual photos of children from each state who have recently lost their lives as a result of being abused.  I have to say that I debated including the child abuse fatality statistic into this post; but after seeing all of those children's faces, I felt compelled to share the horrifying statistics of child abuse in our country, if only to illustrate the vital need for awareness of the topic and to elicit as much support as possible for Child Abuse Prevention. Remember, child abuse is 100% preventable!

 pinwheels  With all of these statistics, many of which are overwhelming, you may be wondering what YOU can do to create change and promote safety for our children. Fortunately, there are a number of things you can do to help.


  • Know what child abuse is. Physical and sexual abuse clearly constitute maltreatment, but so does neglect, or the failure of parents or other caregivers to provide a child with needed food, clothing, and care.
  • Report abuse. If you witness a child being harmed or see evidence of abuse, or if a child tells you about abuse, make a report to your state's child protective services department or local police.
  • Educate yourself and others. Simple support for children and parents can be the best way to prevent child abuse.
  • Discipline your children thoughtfully. Never discipline your child when you are upset. Give yourself time to calm down.
  • Examine your behavior. Abuse is not just physical. Both words and actions can inflict deep, lasting wounds.
  • Be a nurturing parent. Use your actions to show children and other adults that conflicts can be settled without hitting or yelling.
  • After-school activities, parent education classes, mentoring programs, and respite care are some of the many ways to keep children safe from harm. Be a voice in support of these efforts in your community.
  • Teach children their rights. When children are taught they are special and have the right to be safe, they are less likely to think abuse is their fault, and more likely to report an offender.
  • Support prevention programs. Too often, intervention occurs only after abuse is reported.
  • Listen Carefully. When talking to a child about abuse, listen listen listen… assure the child that he or she did the right thing by telling an adult, and affirm that he or she is not responsible for what happened.
  • Invest in Kids. Encourage leaders in the community to be supportive of children and families. Ask employers to provide family-friendly work environments

For more information about child abuse awareness and prevention, visit


Filed under: Uncategorized No Comments