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The Elm Tree is conveniently located in North Boulder, one block east of the Alpine and Broadway intersection. We are near multiple bus lines and shopping centers and only 5 minutes from downtown Boulder.  We are also located just one block from the nearest fire station and hospital.


The Elm Tree was founded in 1983 by Laurene Ellmers and Doreen Trees (hence the name "The Elm Tree"). They both were working at The Boulder Infant Center and there was an apparent need for toddler care in the community so they decided to start a toddler program, encouraged and supported by the parents of the infants who had nowhere to go when they left the infant center.

Doreen moved out of state during the first year of the program, leaving the program in Laurene's hands. Laurene acted as owner and operator for 26 years.  In 2009 she felt like she was ready to pass the program on to someone else.  She wanted it to be someone who had spent time working there and who understood the program inside and out.  Sarah Edwards, who had been teaching for several years and was acting as assistant director at the time, was given the opportunity to become the new owner of The Elm Tree.  She graciously accepted and in November of 2009, the details were finalized and she officially became the new owner.

Sarah applies the same principles that have made The Elm Tree such a wonderful place for toddlers all these years. She and Laurene share a similar philosophy about what comprises high quality child care and she is committed to carrying the mission of The Elm Tree into the next generation.

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Mission Statement

Nurturing each toddler’s quest for independence and self-expression in a contemplative manner with an emphasis on sustainable living and respect for all beings.

Philosophy Statement

We believe that children are whole, independent beings deserving of respect, self-respect, self-expression and meaningful opportunities for development.

We provide a gentle and supportive early-learning environment designed for the expansion that a toddlers’ new-found mobility provides.

In our interactions with children, we strive to give them choices and allow their decisions to count, teaching positive communication methods and ways to resolve conflicts through guidance and positive modeling.

Children are always encouraged to treat others gently and respectfully.

We will nurture all children regardless of their behavior and believe that helping children see the natural consequences of their actions, rather than enforcing a contrived consequence will help them develop their own inner sense of right and wrong based upon universal truths.

It is our belief that nurturing and respecting the whole child is just as important as responsibly caring for the earth that children will need to live upon in the future.

Our objectives...

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Our curriculum is formed around a foundation in contemplative education. We use reflective observations to plan learning activities such as yoga, music, art, stories, gardening, nature walks or movement/rhythm games. Activities are molded to the interest and ability levels of the individual child with free play as a crucial element of our program.

Free play cannot be underestimated in importance as it is the main avenue for learning at this stage in a child’s development. Parents and childcare providers are sometimes led to believe that structured activities must be conducted in order for the child to gain new knowledge. All it takes is some time spent observing a child in "free play" mode to realize that they are learning much more than it first appears. Toddlers have a natural desire to learn and they provide their own very individualized curriculum through self-guided interactions with the environment and materials. Our goal is to provide the experiences, materials and environment that support and nurture this early exploration.

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Daily Schedule

We believe that both new and familiar experiences are important for toddlers and incorporate some of each in our program. Allowing for child-directed and teacher-directed activities helps to accomplish this.

Flexibility is essential when working with young children. Sometimes, we may have planned an activity only to find the children are not interested in it, so we then will follow their cues as to what they need or want to do at that time. We observe children's play and assist them when necessary or offer to help them expand the activity.

Opportunities for individual and group activities are incorporated into the daily schedule. We try to keep meal and nap times consistent so these may serve as expected routines for the children. These times may be adjusted as necessary.

8:00-9:15 Arrival, sharing with parents, child directed play or art activities.
9:15-9:30 Cleanup, circle time: music and movement, singing, group activities,
9:30-10:00 Snack
10:00-10:15 Preparation to go outside.
10:15-11:15 Art experience, outdoor play, child directed play, large muscle activities,
11:15-11:25 Wrap up activities, cleanup, prepare for lunch.
11:25–11:35 Transition inside, hand washing.
11:35-12:00 Lunch - Teachers eat with children and provide a pleasant social atmosphere.
12:00-12:30 Child directed play,  buggy rides, small group activities while morning children prepare to leave.
12:30 Morning session ends, afternoon session begins.
12:30-12:45 Quiet activities in preparation of nap, cleanup.
12:45-1:00 Story time as part of nap routine.
1:00-3:00 Nap time, quiet activities as children awake, diapering.
3:00-3:30 Child directed play, snack is served.
3:30-3:45 Snack, children prepared for departure.
3:45-4:00 Parents arrive, children transition out of program.
4:00-5:30 Optional aftercare period, outside time and buggy rides.

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We are proud to serve the very best food to your little ones……

All fruits & vegetables are 100% organic.  The meat we serve is from free-range, family farms and is organic whenever possible.  The fish on our menu is only that which is known to be low in mercury and caught fresh in uncontaminated waters.

Our pasta, grains and breads are all natural, non-GMO and mostly organic, the cheese and yogurt are organic, and our milk is delivered fresh in glass bottles from Morning Fresh Dairy in Longmont!

All meals and snacks are provided for your child while at Elm Tree and weekly menus are posted on our parent's board.  We will do our best to accommodate any special dietary needs and can work with individual families, perhaps asking for some substitution items if their child's diet needs are highly specific.

Recognizing that toddlers are eager to learn about the world about them, we feel that this is a good time to introduce new foods as new experiences. We encourage children to taste everything that is served, in many cases the children realize that they like a food they initially did not want to taste. Children will eat when they are hungry and won't when they are not, therefore, a child is never forced to eat. We plan meals to assure there is something in the meal that will appeal to most of the children and staff members eat along with the children to serve as examples.

We help children learn acceptable table manners such as saying please when asking for more food, not playing with food and using eating utensils. Children are asked to sit in their chairs while eating and when they are finished they put their dishes in the designated bucket and wash their hands and face before leaving the dining area. Our goal is for mealtimes to be a relaxed and enjoyable time for everyone.

Visit our Weekly Menu page for a sample of our menu offerings!

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Licensing and Rating

The Elm Tree is a fully licensed toddler center according to the state of Colorado's licensing regulations.  In addition to meeting all of the licensing requirements, we were rated by Qualistar in May, 2009.  Qualistar is a Colorado agency that rates centers based on criteria that are far above licensing standards.  The rating scale is between one and four stars.  This was our first time being rated and we received four out of four stars!  We are honored to be recognized for the high quality care that we consistently provide to the children in our care.  To view our Qualistar strengths report, please visit this page.  

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