Alaya provides a safe, enriching and joyful preschool environment for children 2 to 5 years of age located in the heart of Boulder.

For over forty years Alaya has provided quality early childhood education in Boulder, Colorado. We operate 3 classrooms (grouped by age) with full or half-day schedules; as well as 7 weeks of summer camp. Alaya teachers delight in the opportunity to nurture and guide children in their becoming:

  • genuine, compassionate and curious;

  • joyful and connected in their relationships;

  • proud of the effort and discipline in their accomplishments;

  • and meeting challenges while exercising their minds and bodies.


meeting each child in the present moment

We believe that the nature and style of the learning process are as important as what is learned. Young children at Alaya learn through embodied, direct experiences with their world – each sense perception is a gateways for deep learning – as well as through safe relationships with peers and adults. Teachers at Alaya emphasize social competency, language skills, emotional and physical wellbeing, dramatic play, and creative expression in the classroom and in each age group's dedicated play yard. Within the homelike environment at Alaya children are able to observe and participate in simple basic living activities: relationships, helping, sharing, preparing food, cleaning up, caring for plants and animals, exploring the environment, and learning through play.

“Alaya” is Sanskrit for “essence” or the “open unbiased expanse of mind.” Alaya Preschool was named by Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche (1939-1987), the founder of Naropa University and our school, now in its 41st year. In doing so, he signaled a guiding principle for how the school views our children and community. Our vision is for the children, parents, teachers, and staff of Alaya to be held and seen in the essence of who we are in this very moment: basic goodness. Alaya teachers and staff all have contemplative practices facilitating their presence here and beyond. Thus in addition to nurturing child development, we honor, support, and care for all that arises in the child’s own unique experience and path right here, right now. We believe love is the answer, and being present with the children and one another gives us the greatest opportunity to feel and understand this truth.


Alaya's Guiding Principles

Drawing from the wisdom of the Shambhala Buddhist tradition, in addition to other holistic education traditions and techniques, Alaya has developed and is guided by the following Principles of Practice. These principles express what happens here at Alaya – both in the classroom and in our administration. They provide a direction and purpose to our work, and even to our lives altogether. In summary, they are:

  1. Genuine Relationships

  2. Kindness

  3. Respect for the child’s growth

  4. No “problem children”

  5. “Habitual vision of greatness”

  6. Respect for the passion and style of the teacher

  7. Non-competition

  8. Cultivation of inquisitiveness

  9. Accommodation of mistakes

  10. Discipline of body, speech, and mind

  11. No blame

  12. Not afraid of sharp edges

  13. Celebration

  14. Basic Goodness

  15. Sacred world

To read more about Alaya's Principles of Practice please visit our blog.


Parent Involvement

The parent community is an important aspect of Alaya Preschool. Parents are encouraged to participate in their child’s classroom for special activities (music, dance, cooking, etc.); accompanying the class on a field trip; or just connecting with their child’s day. We require one caregiver's participation on Environment Day (once per year) which is a time when Alaya parents and staff have the opportunity to spend a few hours working together on some aspect of improving or maintaining the facility and environment. We also require that each family volunteer 10 Service Hours  each year toward a wide array of activities such as the planning and organization of our annual fundraising campaign or simply helping out around the school. Parents may choose to pay a fee in lieu of participating in Environment Day or service hours.


History & grounds

Alaya was founded by a group of parents and teachers in 1976 under the direction of the late Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, a Tibetan Buddhist teacher who also founded the organizations known today as Shambhala International and Naropa University. Alaya continues its affiliation with Naropa University to this day, and many of Alaya's teachers are Naropa alumni. Our school benefits from the participation of students and researchers (not included in child-teacher ratios).

Our school is located in its original building – a sprawling ranch style house on an expansive, tree-shaded acre lot just a few minutes from downtown Boulder. Each "wing" of the house is dedicated to one of our age groups, with our kitchen and office centered in the heart of the building. Our fenced in play yard is divided into four dedicated areas – one for each class plus a shared front yard that hosts our school garden and yurt.


We hope you'll keep exploring our website to learn more about Alaya classrooms, teachers, enrollment information and more. You can also search this site for whatever you're looking for.

Resources and Insights into the World of Preschoolers on Our Blog