Preschool Program at Columbine Elementary Prepares Young Learners for Bright Futures

Columbine preschool student working on art project

At Columbine Elementary’s preschool program, the preparation for kindergarten goes beyond the classroom. Heather Pias, who’s been a teacher for nearly 20 years and has spent the last eight years as the Preschool Teacher at Columbine, understands the importance of preparing children for kindergarten by laying a foundation for a lifetime of learning and growth.

To provide incoming students with a firsthand preview of the kindergarten experience, they are given the opportunity to visit classrooms, participate in lessons, and explore the school, including the cafeteria and library. This allows them to familiarize themselves with the physical spaces and instills a sense of excitement and readiness for the transition to kindergarten.

Columbine preschool students in class

Pias stresses the importance of preparing children for kindergarten academically, socially, and emotionally. To achieve this, the preschool program seamlessly integrates Fundations, a literacy program aimed at developing reading and writing skills. Additionally, it incorporates the Promoting Alternative Thinking Strategies (PATHS) curriculum, designed to nurture students’ social and emotional well-being. PATHS features puppet characters like Twiggle, serving as guides for children as they learn to manage their emotions and cultivate essential social skills.

The preschool program also has a strong focus on creating important values and life skills. “We want to instill values like empathy and inclusivity from a young age,” shares Pias. Preschoolers participate in the school-wide Special Olympics Young Athletes, where they learn about physical fitness and the importance of kindness and acceptance.

Another unique feature of Columbine’s preschool program is its participation in Boulder County’s Farm to Early Care and Education (ECE) Program. Each week, students receive deliveries of fresh produce, offering them the opportunity to taste fruits and vegetables directly from the farm and learn about where their food comes from.

Columbine Elementary Preschool students looking through magnifying glass at Caterpillars

Parent involvement is another key component of the preschool program. “We believe that parents are our partners in education,” states Pias. “By involving them in their child’s learning journey, we can ensure that every child gets the support they need to succeed.” With activities and communications resources such as family engagement events, monthly cafectios, parent teacher conferences, regular communication through SeeSaw, and monthly school newsletters, Pias ensures that parents are up to date on their students’ progress.

By creating a supportive classroom environment, Pias emphasizes the importance of embracing diversity and learning from one another’s unique cultures and backgrounds. “We want every child and family to feel valued and respected,” states Pias. “That’s why we make sure to include everyone in all activities and celebrate the diversity of our community.”

The primary goal of Columbine’s preschool program is to ensure that every child reaches their full potential, academically, socially, and emotionally. “We want to create a community where every child feels supported and encouraged to explore, learn, and grow,” says Pias. “And that’s what makes teaching preschool at Columbine so rewarding—the sense of community and collaboration that exists here.”

Columbine Elementary School