Discovery Trails is simply the highest quality preschool experience in Colorado Springs. It offers a fun and challenging program that my children love. My kids really did learn to love learning—they came home every day talking about something new they learned at school. Their unique program (both fun and challenging) is what brought us to this school. We stayed at the school because the teachers are exceptional. You simply won't find two teachers who are more committed to the well-being, development and happiness of the children they teach than Jen Baker and Peggy Priest. They are the most professional, qualified and capable preschool teachers around. But beyond that, it is obvious—from the care and compassion they show my children and our family, to the look and feel of the classroom, and the quality of the curriculum—that the teachers are passionate about early childhood education. They simply love what they do. I wouldn't trust anyone else with the early education of my children.

How do you differ from the daycare centers in the area?

Discovery Trails Early Learning Academy is not a daycare, we are a private preschool. We offer education by qualified teachers in the areas of emergent literacy, early reading skills, cognitive thinking, problem solving, science, math, and social skills. Included in each day is instruction in computer skills, physical education, foreign language, art and drama. Discovery Trails is committed to the academic development of each child meeting his or her individual needs. Along with this idea, we provide children academic challenges with real, hands-on, developmentally-appropriate curriculum.

Recognizing that young children learn best through play, we believe in play with a purpose. When your child comes home each day, we hope he or she says, “I played all day.” Our goal is to help children learn to love learning. Our certified and degreed staff create an environment that encourages academic challenges and meets the children at their level. We believe in stretching children without breaking them. This helps build confidence and the necessary skills to be successful in future learning endeavors.

John Dewey, an educational philosopher, theorized that children learn best through interpersonal contact with the subject matter. Our experience-based curriculum brings real-life situations to the curriculum. As we venture out on theme-based field trips, hike trails in Cheyenne Canyon or dissect buffalo hearts, our active learning atmosphere brings academics to life.

In a typical daycare setting, young children are placed in a class with 24 students and two teachers and children have an average of only one hour each day of direct instruction. Children spend the bulk of the day in learning centers and two hours in nap. At Discovery Trails, we maintain a low student/teacher ratio and we provide a good balance of teacher-directed and child-directed activities in which students enjoy almost four hours of instruction time lead by experienced teachers.

What experience and qualifications do you have?

Teaching early childhood education comes naturally to Jen and Peggy and it has become a true passion for both women.

Jen has twenty years experience teaching young children with seven on those years in the private school setting teaching Pre-Kindergarten and Preschool. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Developmental Psychology and a Master’s degree in Education. She received a Level V Early Childhood Education Credential from the state of Colorado and has her state of Colorado early childhood director license. She was the director of the early childhood department at the Renaissance Academy as well as the curriculum director for Preschool through 3rd grade.

Peggy has several years of experience teaching children. She taught 3rd grade, 4th grade and Kindergarten with the last six years teaching Pre-Kindergarten and Preschool. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Human Nutrition and an Elementary Teaching Certificate for the state of California. She was presented a Level IV Early Childhood Education Credential from the state of Colorado and has her state of Colorado early childhood director license. For the last two years, she taught side by side with Jen at the Renaissance Academy.

How do you provide individualized/differentiated education?

This is a very easy question to answer: Discovery Trails functions with a very small student/teacher ratio. This is done on purpose so that students have the opportunity to gain the much needed social skills that encourage academic success as well as individualized instruction from the teachers. Teachers plan lessons based on the needs of each child. As students are introduced to concepts, the exposure is common, but the support activity is not. For example, after listening to the story From Seed to Apple some students may use their journal to scribble pictures for emergent writing and name what they draw to the teacher for expression. Other students may be drawing pictures with representative detail and dictate entire stories complete with a beginning, middle and end. Some students will draw apples and communicate the parts of the apple’s anatomy for the teacher to write and label. Still other students with accelerated skills may try their hand at inventive spelling and emergent reading as they draw and label the lifecycle of the apple from seed to fruit.

What is "Jr. Kindergarten?"

Jr. Kindergarten is a Kindergarten-level curriculum that is intended for children who either just missed the Kindergarten cut off date because their birthday is too late in the year, who are four and exhibit accelerated academic skills or who are five but may need a little extra time before heading on to public school for developmental reasons. With our small student/teacher ratio, each child in Jr. Kindergarten will receive the academic and emotional curriculum he or she needs. 

A recent study showed that a typical half-day Kindergarten student receives just 32 minutes of instruction time per day with one teacher per 22 students. The Jr. Kindergarten program at Discovery trails offers a full-day academic program that meets the individual academic needs of each child with a small class of nine students and one teacher.

What is the student/teacher ratio?

Discovery Trails Early Learning Academy functions far below the maximum ratios set by the state. We will maintain a ratio of no more than nine students per teacher at all times.

What does a typical week at Discovery Trails look like?

Here at Discovery Trails, we use the integrated approach to learning. We believe that learning must be based on prior knowledge. We have a two year rotating scope and sequence that spirals the skills children learn. This helps children to learn a skill, have time to master it and then use that information to learn new skills. We also believe in teaching to the “whole child” and offer students opportunities to participate in specials and a variety of activities.

A typical week at Discovery Trails looks as follows:

(click on the image above to view a larger copy, or click here to download a PDF of the sample schedule)

You can see the typical daily schedule in more detail on this page.

Do you go on field trips?

Yes! Discovery Trails Early Learning Academy believes that true education extends beyond the walls of the classroom. Students will have the opportunity to attend curricular field trips, enjoy special visitors and participate in real-life activities brought to the classroom. We also have a complete environmental education curriculum that helps students understand their role in nature and the footprints they leave behind.

How will I know how my child is doing?

At Discovery Trails we closely monitor the progression of each child. Through formal and informal assessments, we track each student's academic and developmental growth. Four times a year, we provide each family with an assessment report that shows their child's progress. After the first and third quarter, formal parent/teacher conferences are held. We are also willing to meet with you any time during the school year to discuss your child's achievements.

You can view our sample assessment reports by clicking on the following links:

Preschool and Pre-Kindergarten Assessment
Jr. Kindergarten Assessment

Do you provide day care?

Discovery Trails is a private preschool committed to the education of young children. The preschool, Pre-Kindergarten and Jr. Kindergarten classes run from 8:30AM to 3:30PM Monday through Friday with extended care available on a case-by-case basis.

Do you provide extended care?

We can provide Extended Care on a case-by-case basis, for an extra charge.

What are your hours of operation?

Discovery Trails Early Learning Academy is a private preschool with school hours from 8:30AM to 3:30PM Monday through Friday.

Do you provide snacks and lunches?

We do not provide snacks or lunch at Discovery Trails. Children enjoy bringing their own lunch boxes and eat better when the food offered is familiar. This does not limit children from enjoying hot lunches, however. We are more than happy to heat leftovers and other cooked foods in our microwave at meal time.

How much is tuition?

Discovery Trails’ tuition is less than the cost of many childcare centers and preschools in Colorado Springs. We offer rates for five full days, three full days (Monday, Wednesday, Friday) and two full days (Tuesday and Thursday). Please contact us for specific rates and information.