DENVER (CBS4) – As Colorado implements full-day kindergarten, Clayton Early Learning Center is on the forefront of preparing children for a lifetime of learning. The center is located on a century old campus in northeast Denver, and it needs the tender loving care of some Day of Service volunteers.

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Clayton Early Learning Center’s preschool programming allows children to learn about themselves and the world around them.

“The first thing is starting really early, and by that I mean prenatal, with pregnant moms. We know that wrapping around services and supports for mothers and for families from the beginning matters. Not just early education, but things like nutrition, things like outdoor play, things that are helping to work on brain development, and other early developmental benchmarks for kids,” said Becky Crowe, President & CEO of Clayton Early Learning Center.

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The Center also offers peer education in 40 counties across the state, and a research and evaluation team that studies effectiveness in early childhood.

“We are a center for all things early childhood,” Crowe told CBS4.

The Moonbeam Gardens are a big part of the curriculum at the center.

“Our gardens have an incredible impact on the children and the families here. Our children have the opportunity to actually do hands-on-learning, and hands-on-science in the gardens. Our teachers are able to incorporate the gardens into their lessons, and enable the children to know where their food comes from,” Crowe explained.

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The families also benefit by taking home the produce from the gardens.

“A Japanese Beetle,” one preschooler said of the bugs he was collecting in the garden.

On the day CBS4 visited, the bugs were what were captivating the imaginations of the 3 and 4-year-olds.

“The fearlessness that they have…I love that,” Janelle Jenkins told CBS4.

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Jenkins was looking for a progressive learning environment for her daughter, Aminah.

“It’s really a child-led environment, and whether they’re outside in the garden, or whether they’re in the classroom, they choose first what they want to do, and then the teacher supports them in that aspect,” Jenkins explained.

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In order to stay on the cutting edge of early education, Clayton Early Learning Center relies on the help of volunteers to keep up their campus. The Center will host an Xcel Energy Day of Service project. They need 72 volunteers to do garden maintenance, and some landscaping work on the property.

“It is an incredible gift, and asset for our organization. We would simply not be able to maintain this campus without the help of volunteers from the community,” Crowe said.

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Xcel Energy’s Day of Service is Saturday, September 7th from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m.

LINKS: Clayton Early Learning Center | Xcel Energy’s Day of Service

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