/Helen Andresen

About Helen Andresen

Helen has devoted over 50 years to the education of Colorado’s children. After teaching secondary science in Adams County she took ownership of Iliff Play School…and founded Iliff Preschool, Kindergarten, and School-Age Summer Camp. She is an advocate for Early Childhood Education as well as an educational trainer and business consultant. Her center is celebrating over 50 years of service to the SE Denver community. Helen’s interests center on advocating for professional development in Early Childhood Education. As past NECPA Commissioner for the State of Colorado, she promoted high quality programs by serving as a verifier and trainer for an independent accreditation program. As a Child Care Professional Field Counselor, she mentored educators who were seeking National training and credentialing. Her board experience includes Vice President of Professional Development, Past President, and Board Emeritus of the Early Childhood Association of Colorado. Her efforts at the State level have included work on the Child Care Licensing Review Task Force, the Governor’s Early Childhood Professional Standards Task Force, and the Office of Child Care Service Advisory Committee. She has presented management and marketing seminars at conferences and workshops, advocating for Early Childhood Education in legislation, and publishing articles in trade magazines and on the web. Her hobbies include traveling, scuba diving, and skiing. “Working hand in hand with families to ensure quality care and education for young children is the key to building a nation with the greatest future.”

An ounce of prevention goes a long way when caring for children at home or in child care.

Effective discipline begins when a child is born…not after problems pop up. In order to prevent problems, parents and teachers need to examine their own behavior first; then look at the environment, review how they schedule activities, and finally establish simple rules.

Children watch our behaviors and react to them the same way we do. If we yell, they yell. If we strike out, they hit and push. If we use our words to tell others we are angry and share our love and kindness by being courteous, we are establishing a foundation for good behavior the day the child is born. As they grow preparing a safe environment where dangerous objects are not present removes the temptation for them to make the wrong choice. Providing age-appropriate toys on open shelves where children can reach them also empowers children to make good choices.

Scheduling events around children avoids problems when children become bored or feel rushed. Preparing children in advance when changing from one activity to another gives them time to complete and store a project, clean up, and feel ready to move on to another activity. Keeping children occupied with quick, playful activities like interactive songs, and letter and number games intentionally teaches language, literacy, math and science. A final tip…being fair and consistent with simple rules prevents outbursts, frustration, and strong feelings of resentment.

Preventing problems before they occur…the first step toward raising children who share and cooperate, are able to handle anger, are more self-disciplined and feel successful and in control of themselves.

We Love Iliff Kindergarten


Our staff which promises that learning is fun and fun is never ending.
A small class size and more time with their teacher.
The DC7 airplane magically converted into a classroom just for them, with plenty of space and materials to expand their love of learning.
Play-based, hand on experiences in reading, writing, and communication, mathematics, social studies, drama, movement, visual arts, and music.
Specials in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), art appreciation, music around the globe, and Spanish taught weekly by visiting teachers.
Their ability to move their indoor curriculum outside at any time of the day (STEM experiences adapt themselves well to the outside).
The opportunity to let off steam and recharge their batteries with their buddies on their very own kindergarten playground designed just for them!
The special events and field trips during fall, spring, and winter breaks with their friends from their class.


That your child attends class in a very unique and creative environment.
Play-based kindergarten curriculum that is child directed and hands on and aligns with national and state standards.
Miss Karen who brings the opportunity for your child to participate in professional instruction in dance to our center.
Knowing play is never sacrificed for more instructional time or standardized testing found in traditional kindergarten classrooms.
Individual attention given to your child all day due to a small classroom size.
Tuition that is the same as child care and includes field trips which enrich the curriculum as well enable the children to experience community involvement by working with local charities in the Denver area.
In addition to our academic program, we provide care for your child from 7:00am to 6:00 pm at no extra cost.
We are open when you need us….searching for childcare on teacher planning days or holidays, […]

Reasons To Send Your Kids To Summer Camp

If you’ve been to camp in your middle childhood years, you’re not surprised to hear about the benefits of summer camp. But if you didn’t go to camp as a child, you may not realize just how good the experience is for children. Here is a list of just some of the reasons to send your kids to camp.

Camp is:
• the place where kids make their very best friends, free from the social expectations pressuring them at school
• where kids get back outside and play….it is a wonderful antidote to “nature deficit disorder” where kids can relax, laugh, and be silly all day long.
• a place where kids can discover and develop what they like to do
• spending the day being physical active…running, swimming, jumping, hiking, and organizing games
• experiencing success and becoming more confident…there is accomplishment every day
• real when kids take a break from TV and the internet and engage in real activities and real emotions in a real community
• the perfect place for kids to develop who they are, making decisions for themselves without parents and teachers guiding every move
See? Camp is great!

Kindergarten Registration 2015-2016 Is Already Here!

Can you believe families will be asked to register for the 2014-15 fall kindergarten beginning in January? What do I look for in a good kindergarten? There are certain basic agreements among educators as to what makes a good program. It should:

Expand your child’s ability to learn about (and from) the world, to organize information, and to solve problems. This increases his feelings of self-worth and confidence, his ability to work with others, and his interest in challenging tasks.

Provide a combination of formal (teacher-initiated) and informal (child-initiated) activities. Investigations and projects allow your child to work both on her own and in small groups.

Keep large group activities that require sitting and listening to a minimum. Instead, most activities feature play-based, hands-on learning in small groups. As the year progresses, large group activities become a bit longer in preparation for 1st grade.

Foster a love of books, reading, and writing. There are books, words, and kids’ own writing all over the classroom.

Don’t forget to talk to your child’s preschool teacher and remember when looking for great alternatives to public school, you are encouraged to tour Iliff Preschool’s private Kindergarten classroom.  You will receive a checklist of “What you what to see in a Good Kindergarten” to take home with you!

Helen is the director and owner of Iliff Preschool, Kindergarten, and School-Age Summer Camp program. She is an advocate for early childhood education as well as a business consultant. Her center is celebrating 51 years of service to the SE Denver community.

What Can You Do To Help Your Child Learn To Read And Be Kindergarten Ready?

When you are reading with your pre-kindergartener:

1. Point to words.
2. Talk about the printed words, like “This word starts with a p and ends with a p.”
3. Ask your child questions. Ask about what just happened and what might happen next.
4. Read different types of books, like fairy tales, nursery rhymes, alphabet books, picture books, and poems.
5. Read books that repeat words and phrases.
6. Play guessing games with sounds and words, like “I’m thinking of a word that begins with b, can you think of one?”
7. Remember, every child is different. They do not all learn to understand, talk, read, or write at the same times. A speech-language pathologist can help if you have any concerns or questions.

Social and Emotional Learning

You have already been helping your child learn about social and emotional development skills at home. During the preschool years, you will want to continue building these skills. Spending time with your child and showing your love will help your child feel secure and will build the confidence to try new things. Talking about feelings will help your child identify and manage emotions. For example, if a play date gets canceled, you might say, “I know you’re sad that your friend can’t come over.”

To help your child learn to manage strong emotions you might try helping your child to count to 10 before he or she gets angry and lashes out. Encouraging him or her to use positive self-talk such as saying, “I know I can do this” will help when frustration takes over during a new task.

If your child has a conflict or other problem, ask what’s wrong and how it makes him or her feel.   This helps you both understand the problem better. Then ask your child to think of ways to solve the problem. Offer suggestions if needed. After discussing the pros and cons of each idea, help your child work out what choice is likely to work best.

Praise your child when he or she takes steps to solve problems on his or her own.


On January 19, the country was celebrating the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King. Jr. Here, at school, our recognition was two-fold:

First,we used our time at school to participate in community volunteering. The Kindergarten went to a younger classroom to read and talk about books. We learned a lot during our first experience with sharing our book knowledge with younger children.

Second, we participated in an experiment about racism. The children were not aware that this was an experiment going on at the time. The experiment lasted 2 hours. I divided the group into Brown Eyes and Blue Eyes. Each group was given one hour to experience “everything” as normal. Each group was given one hour to experience “everything” taken away, being last or not given a fair share. Here are some comments by the children as they were engaged in the experiment:

“We can’t play. The Blue Eyes/Brown Eyes get to do everything they want.”

“That’s not fair. They get everything.”

“We want to play hide ‘n seek.”

“She is making everything not fair! This is not fun!”

“Who are you going to tell?” ( as in “tell on Ms. Mary”)

“ We really like climbing and we can’t figure out what to do.”

“ Everyday my eyes are brown. I wanna play but I don’t know what to do.”

“We only get the ground.”

“That’s just how life is, just how it is.” ( child with “everything explaining life to a child who had everything taken.)

“I’m sad cuz I didn’t get to play with ______.”

“Maybe it will change tomorrow.”

“How about if it goes, US, US, US!”

“I just want to stay inside.”

“I wish we didn’t have to go to school.” (all children at the table with everything taken away discussed this possibility)


It […]

Your Child & Pre-Kindergarten

Getting off to a good start is the objective of every parent of a 4 year old who will be entering a Prekindergarten program this fall. Whether it be in a public school district, federal Head Start program, religious institution, or privately run school or early learning center, there are signs of a quality Prekindergarten program that every parent should know.

The indoor and outdoor areas where children enjoy a play based curriculum are safe and well-maintained, equipped with an abundance of materials that children can choose from. Class sizes are small and spaces in the classroom are arranged to enhance learning and reduce conflicts. Policies which insure security and explain emergency evacuation plans are posted in places accessible to all.

Teachers as well as assistants are qualified and meet state requirements. Appropriate and effective teaching approaches are evident and are exhibited in the classroom. A plan for annual staff training is available for review.

Curriculum promotes social, emotional, physical, language, and cognitive development, and embraces early learning standards. Each child’s progress is monitored and discussions with parents are offered at least twice a year.

Staff members are trained and follow policies to protect children as well as themselves from illness. Screening and referrals are offered if needed. Menus reflect items that insure children receive healthy and nutritious meals and morning and afternoon snacks every day.

In summary, quality Prekindergarten programs use policies and procedures creating a fun, developmentally appropriate environment which help children learn by following state licensing requirements. They include parents and other community resources and strive to reach individual goals set for every child. .

Addressing your child’s needs now helps her/him prepare for the future and sets the foundation fora life time of learning.

Iliff Kindergarten Astronauts

Sympathetic and trusting teachers can be of use to learners, not by deciding what they are to learn but by encouraging and helping them to learn what they are already busy learning. – from the brilliant mind of John Holt


One of the best approaches to early learning will emphasize a studio (small or large) filled with abundant materials where real-life problem solving among peers can occur. The teacher will research and work with the environment to provide numerous opportunities for creative thinking and explorations of children working in collaborative groups.
This week in our Kindergarten classroom we have become Iliff Astronauts…a crew of 10 working in the Iliff Shuttle. We are building a space craft in our airplane classroom and have constructed computers, radios, cameras, gear to repair the shuttle, and special shirts for in-shuttle use. We have been collecting rock samples in our moon boots on our moon walks while wearing our helmets and jet packs as we explore the outdoors. Our Outer Space books added another two pages this week as we learned how much we weigh on earth and..on the moon, To learn more about real astronaut life, we turned to the internet! We watched how to eat and wash our hair in space! We researched and discovered that just today the Astronauts were forced to flee the US side of the space station due to the possibility of a leak. We were thankful that the scare was unfounded and discussed how the Astronauts would evacuate and return to earth if a problem were there.

What is this thing called kindergarten STEM?

Mention the word STEM to an educator and you will hear these words: science, technology, engineering, and math, but mention STEM to a kindergartener and watch their faces light up with delight and as they excitedly use the words fun, invent, build, explore, dig, exciting…and the list goes on and on!


Every Friday morning, Miss Stephanie, founder of Gray Matters, a hands-on science program, arrives with her boxes of materials and enthralls her audience with lessons that get our kindergarteners doing stuff, touching things, mixing materials, separating objects. One of her favorite projects involves burying chicken bones to represent dinosaur bones and letting her students put them back together. After identifying the bones and rearticulating the skeleton, heads are constructed out of clay.   “Kids are natural scientists,” says Miss Stephanie and “getting their hands dirty gets their minds open and their brains jump-started.”