About Us
For over 130 years, Columbus Early Learning Centers (CELC) has been providing high-quality early learning and care to Columbus children. Our tradition of affordable access to high-quality early childhood education has strengthened the lives of thousands of children, families and the communities in which they live.

On January 23rd, 1887, Columbus Early Learning Centers welcomed their very first students. After months of planning by dedicated members of the Columbus community, a one room nursery was established to serve low income families at the Women’s Educational and Industrial Union at 65 South Fourth Street. A day nursery allowed mothers to work and older siblings to attend school, while their children and younger siblings spent the day in a safe and stable environment. At the end of the first year, the daily average at our nursery was five children and tuition was a mere five cents per day.

In the 130+ years since our creation, we have more than outgrown that first one room nursery on South Fourth Street. We currently operate four centers in the Linden and Near East neighborhoods of Columbus, and we are looking forward to expanding into Franklinton in the Fall 2019. We use a play-based curriculum and positive discipline in our classrooms to meet the needs of our 300 students. Our student to teacher ratios exceed state requirements, allowing our teachers to provide more attentive care and individualized instruction to prepare every child for kindergarten. Our centers are accredited by the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services Step Up to Quality Program.

More information about our program is available in our 2018 Family Guide.

Our Mission

Doing what it takes to deliver the best early learning experiences and family support so every child succeeds in school and in life.

Our Values

  • Accessible to all families through affordable tuition
  • Accessible to children at risk for later school challenges
  • Respectful environment where children, families and staff work together towards success
  • Nurturing family atmosphere in which children, families and staff are physically and emotionally safe and secure
  • Committed to diversity in people and ideas
  • Evidenced-based curriculum emphasizing meaningful play, exploration and discovery
  • Continuous professional development of qualified staff
  • Community collaboration
  • Responsible, efficient financial and business practices
  • Relentless advocacy for children, families, staff and early childhood education

Take a Look Around

Days at Columbus Early Learning Centers are fun-filled. See what fun we've been up to lately.

Learning about bees!
Learning about bees!
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Our therapy dog, Scarlet
Our therapy dog, Scarlet
Working on fine motor skills
Working on fine motor skills
What will you be when you grow up?
Water day for the Gators class
Water day for the Gators class
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Sharing our poems with Ms. Caitlin
A visit from the fire truck
A visit from the fire truck
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Our Main St. Location Playground
Our Main St. Location Playground
Enjoying a morning walk
Enjoying a morning walk
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Reading with volunteer, Mr. Pete
Reading with volunteer, Mr. Pete
Washing our trikes