2019 Fort Collins Preschool Guide


As we've been giving tours of Roots & Wings, many of you asked how Reggio compares to other styles and philosophies. Here's a complete guide to educate the larger community of the different options along with specific preschools in Fort Collins.

We are lucky to have so many options for our young children and I know it can feel overwhelming! Reach out if you have questions — megan@rootsandwingsfc.com

PS. For easier reading, here's a google doc you can print off and make notes for tours, contact info, waiting lists, etc. 

Academic Preschools

  • Academic preschool programs are typically teacher directed and managed.

  • Teachers extensively plan activities for the children in their classes and guide the children in that learning.

  • Focus on school readiness for Kindergarten.

Who’s it for? 

Parents may choose an academic preschool to help prepare their kids for the Kindergarten setting.

Academic Preschools:


Child Development Centers

  • High-quality care that typically follows the Colorado State Preschool Standards along with the Colorado Early Learning Guidelines.

  • Each center offers their unique curriculum that exposes each child to pre-reading & writing skills, pre-science concepts & experiments, pre-math concepts, creative art, dramatic play, movement, and social studies.

  • Open for longer hours in the day in addition to summer enrichment programming.

Who's it for?

Parents may choose a child development center if they need longer hours of care and want their child to be in high-quality environment and exposed to a variety of experiences. 

Child Development Centers:


Cooperative Preschools

  • A cooperative preschool is one in which parents have the unique opportunity to work directly with preschool children along side early childhood professionals.

  • Parents volunteer in the classroom through workdays, bring snack, and possibly committee assignments.

  • Parents can learn ways to reinforce in the home what their children are learning in school. Each preschool will offer a curriculum that is unique to their school.

Who's it For?

Parents might be interested in a cooperative preschool to be an active participant in their child's first experience with school. Also, cooperative preschools are a great way to meet other families in your community.

Cooperative Preschools:

Gymnastics Preschools

  • Preschool programs that offer a weekly gymnastics class as part of their early childhood curriculum.

  • Each program offers additional classes to the public such as ballet, dance, etc.

Who's it For?

Parents might be interested in a gymnastics + preschool program for their children to learn valuable skills such as persistence, patience, following step-by-step directions, self-confidence, coordination, etc. 

Gymnastics Preschools: 


Montessori Preschools

  • A Montessori classroom is carefully put together to allow the child to work independently and enjoy self-discovery.

  • There is a focus on academics, but the main idea is that children learn at their own pace.

  • Create individualize learning plans for your unique child’s needs and interests.

  • Believe independence and self-directed learning are important concepts and goals to work towards.

Who’s it for? 

Many parents choose Montessori who want their children to acquire leadership skills and independence in a multi-age setting.

Montessori Preschools:   

Reggio Emilia Preschools

  • Project-based curriculum with units based on students’ interests.

  • Children encouraged to explore and play through inquiries and provocations.

  • Expressive arts - children use many different methods to express their thoughts, creativity, and understanding: pretend-play, drawing, music, dance, movement, sculpture, painting, and drama.

  • Reggio Emilia schools document what kids do by way of video, photos, and written observations.

Who’s it for? 

For parents who want their child to be a good citizen may choose a Reggio-inspired school. Through the many projects, children learn about cooperation, problem-solving, and how to resolve conflicts with others.

Reggio Emilia Preschools:



  • The curriculum typically ties religious values or character development with play based, age appropriate academics.

  • Faith-based with a focus on the community.

  • Each preschool will offer something different on how they include literacy, science, social and emotional development, and math into their learning.

Who's it for?

Many parents might choose a faith-based preschool that closely matches their family’s values and their child’s needs and personality. 

Religious Preschools:  


Waldorf Preschools

  • Play-based with a dependable routine. Certain days of the week for baking or gardening.

  • Emphasis on liberal arts of creative learning, reading, singing, acting, etc.

  • Children spend a lot of time outdoors

  • Children are not allowed to wear media characters and no electronics or technology

Who’s it for? 

Parents may choose Waldorf because they want their child to develop individualism in a cooperative, creative, routine-based setting. 

Waldorf Schools:


Other Options in Fort Collins

  • Arts & Imagination - This fine-arts based preschool blends many things from Waldorf, Reggio, and Montessori.

  • Axis International Academy Preschool -This preschool (that is part of a larger K-5 school) includes daily language immersion in Spanish, Mandarin, or French taught by a teacher who is a native or native-like speaker with teaching experience.

  • The Family Center/La Familia - El Nidito or "The Little Nest" is one of the few truly multi-cultural, bi-lingual preschools in Larimer County. They are a state certified, Qualistar rated and a School Readiness site.

  • Poudre School District - Check your local elementary school as often times they might have a preschool program attached to the school.

  • St. Luke's Preschool - This preschool nurtures the development of a positive sense of self in each child. They follow the Core Knowledge curriculum.

About the Author -  Megan Haynes

For the past 10 years, I have had the honor to work with and alongside children. I have a M.A. in Teaching from the University of San Francisco with a focus on project-based learning and nature education. I've taught in urban San Francisco schools and local elementary schools in Fort Collins. I'm thrilled to share my passion of Reggio-inspired teaching and nature education with the students of Roots & Wings! 

Please reach out if you notice I've accidently left off a preschool from this list. I'd love to hear from you with any feedback -- megan@rootsandwingsfc.com. Thank you!