Joining Us

Thank you for your interest in joining the Explore and Discover cooperative! E&D is committed to providing a quality early education program for infants and toddlers in Denver’s West Highlands neighborhood. Our families and professional staff work together, contributing their time, talents, and skills to meet the ideals of the Reggio Emilia Approach to Early Childhood Education. Collaboration in a parent co-op requires time and commitment, but is very rewarding and is fundamental to our program.

The best way to learn about E&D is to visit! Tours are available by appointment. Please call Emily Lichtenstein, Director, at 720-855-6818 or email eandddirector@gmail.com to schedule a tour.

Additional Information

Please explore the rest of this website for more information on our program, policies, and tuition rates. Our tuition rates and more are available here, on the “For Our Families” section of the site. Contact eandddirector@gmail.com with any questions.

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Program Philosophy
E&D follows the Reggio Emilia Approach to Early Childhood Education. More information about this philosophy is located here.

Immunization Policy
E&D is committed to keeping all children safe and healthy. We have recently changed our immunization policy and now only accept children who are fully immunized or who take medical exemptions. Please refer to our full immunization policy here.

Parent Participation
Parent participation is fundamental to Explore and Discover. The Reggio Emilia Approach asserts that teachers, parents, and children are the “three protagonists” of learning, equal partners in creating an early education program that is truly a “community of learners”. In E&D’s cooperative structure, the three protagonists share responsibilities, develop lasting relationships, participate in all aspects of program development, and support each other through the joys and challenges of growth and learning.

All families of children enrolled are members of E&D’s cooperative. Families take on responsibilities, participate in parent education seminars, and connect with other families from the community.

Monthly responsibilities

  1. Choose a job. A family’s job may be as a member of the advisory board, cleaning the fish tank, yard maintenance, grocery shopping, to name a few. There are opportunities to change jobs during your time at E&D.
  2. Volunteer in the classroom. At least one family member volunteers once a month as a teacher assistant (TA). TA shifts are opportunities to get to know the other children and their parents, participate in classroom projects, and help families and children feel that E&D is an extension of home.
  3. Clean E&D. Cleaning shifts include vacuuming, mopping, and sanitizing E&D. Every family schedules one cleaning shift a month.

Annual responsibilities

  1. Attend at least 4 of the 6 bi-monthly parent meetings.
  2. Participate in at least 3 fundraising events (i.e. selling Chinook Books, acquiring items for a silent auction).
  3. Participate in both workdays. Each family sends at least one representative to Spring and Fall workdays to spend 2-3 hours on a Saturday improving E&D’s space (painting, yard maintenance, etc.).

E&D is committed to keeping our community safe. All parent and community volunteers must complete a fingerprint background check through the Colorado Bureau of Investigation and a TRAILS child abuse and neglect background check through the Colorado Department of Human Services. Necessary forms and instructions are provided by E&D.

Applying to E&D

To apply to E&D, please

If there is immediate availability in your child’s age group, you will be contacted by Emily Lichtenstein. Otherwise, you will be placed on the wait list and contacted if a space becomes available.

Enrollment Priorities

Vacancies in care-giving groups are filled based on the following priorities:

  • Currently enrolled children may increase the number of days enrolled.
  • Children of current E&D families, alumni families, and E&D staff are offered spaces in the order of the date they applied to the wait list. To be included in this priority, alumni families must be in good standing with E&D.
  • Children of new families on the wait list are enrolled in order of the date they applied.

Enrolling at E&D

Emily Lichtenstein will notify you when there is a spot available for your child, leaving a message if you are not available. If you have not responded within 48 hours, the spot will be offered to the next family on the wait list.

E&D cannot hold a spot for a family who wishes to start later than the available start date. If a space becomes available too early, you may

  1. accept the spot offered and begin paying tuition for your child immediately, using all or some of the days your child is enrolled or
  2. decline the spot and request to stay on the wait list in case a spot becomes available that is better suited to your needs.

If you choose to enroll, you are responsible for the following payments:

  • Within 48 hours
    • A $50 deposit which will be credited to your first month’s tuition.
  • At least two weeks before your child starts at E&D
    • First month’s tuition
    • The annual $200 registration fee (prorated from the date of enrollment through the following June 1)
    • Last month’s tuition

Checks should be payable to CNDC fbo E&D with your child’s name on the Memo line.

Preparing for Your First Day

Once you have accepted a spot and paid your deposit, you’ll want to prepare for your child’s first day at E&D. We know that child care can be overwhelming at first, especially in a co-op where you have additional responsibilities.

What to expect

Prior to your first day, you will be added to our E&D Google Group to receive emails from our staff and other parents. You will also be contacted by email by our school nurse, parent orientation coordinator, parent volunteer coordinator, cleaning/TA shift scheduler, and secretary. They’ll help you through getting medical documents background checks, choosing a job, and paying tuition. There may be a lot of information and conversations at first. Please ask us anything if it gets too confusing.

Required Paperwork

The parent orientation coordinator will provide you with the required forms that must be on file for you and your child before your child’s first day. These forms are also listed on this website under “Forms”.

Helpful tips

  • Keep yourself informed. Take some time to read over our Parent Handbook and policies on the “For Our Families” tab of this website. It has helpful advice for your first day and includes important information about E&D policies.
  • You have time to adjust! Your responsibilities start the month after you enroll. This gives you time for orientation, to ask questions, and to focus on the transition for you and your child.
  • You’re welcome anytime. Come ahead of time to meet your child’s caregiver, adjust to the environment, talk about your routines, and get yourself comfortable with E&D. Please let Emily know you’re coming ahead of time so we can make sure your child’s caregiver is available for conversation. Your child’s caregiver will be with you for your full time at E&D, moving with your child to different classrooms. She’s committed to developing a relationship with your family and will be your best support at E&D.
  • You aren’t alone. The other parents at E&D have been through this, too, and may have wonderful advice for you. Utilize them as resources!
  • As us anything. Please email or call with any questions or concerns. We’re here to help you through this transition!