Our early learning centers are the cornerstone of the work we do. We serve children between the ages of 6 weeks and 5 years at our five child care facilities in the Near East and Linden neighborhoods of Columbus. Our centers use a play-based curriculum (The Creative Curriculum) and positive discipline in our classrooms to meet the individual needs of each of our students. Our child-to-teacher ratios exceed state requirements, allowing our teachers to provide more attentive care and individualized instruction. Our teachers are well-educated in the field of early childhood education and child development. All of our centers are rated 4 or more stars by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services’ Step-Up to Quality Star Rating System.

Our Approach

Responsive Care Giving

Promoting Secure Attachments and Healthy Relationships

The heart of a high-quality early learning environment is the relationship among adults and children, and children and their peers. At Columbus Early Learning Centers we know that young children are not only developing knowledge and skills as they grow, but also feelings and attitudes about themselves as learners and citizens of a community. We value children’s creativity, imagination, wonder and joy. We believe that young children are worthy of our nurturing care and respect.

Our teachers help children build warm, positive, consistent relationships by:

  • Developing strong partnerships with families.
  • Respecting each child as a unique individual.
  • Being sensitive to children’s individual needs by observing closely and learning the cues children use to communicate.
  • Nurturing children with gentleness, affection, comforting assistance and shared experiences.
  • Responding appropriately to children’s strong emotions;
  • Encouraging clear, open communication.
  • Being positive and enthusiastic about learning.

From infancy, through toddlerhood and into the preschool years, healthy relationships help children develop the attributes of active, confident, effective learners. It is through responsive caregiving and healthy relationships that children truly develop the foundation for success in school and in life.

Intentional Teaching

Promoting Meaningful Learning Experiences

Intentional teachers act with knowledge and purpose to ensure that young children acquire the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in school and in life. At Columbus Early Learning Centers we know that meaningful learning doesn’t happen by chance—it is thoughtfully planned and purposefully connected to specific goals.

Our teachers intentionally plan for the:

  • Physical environment — providing a safe, healthy, engaging and organized classroom.
  • Emotional environment — respecting differences and planning for individual needs.
  • Learning environment — promoting play as the best way to learn, planning for both child-guided and adult-guided experiences and integrating learning in all domains.

At Columbus Early Learning Centers we implement a comprehensive curriculum and assessment system, Creative Curriculum and Teaching Strategies GOLD. This research-based curriculum is grounded in the understanding that play is the primary way children learn about the world and is aligned with Ohio’s Early Learning and Development Standards.

Our teachers understand that by listening to children, observing them at play, and providing them with appropriate environments and materials, the curriculum is constructed. It is of primary importance to the successful growth and development of each individual child that the curriculum meets them where they are and helps them progress in their own time.

Our Locations

The physical environment is one of the most important elements in an early childhood program for facilitating exploration and discovery. Our locations are intentionally planned from our child-sized sinks to our loose parts on the shelves to support independence, relationship building, and learning through play.

Alum Creek Drive

Opened in April of 2021, this center is a unique partnership between CELC and Bridgeway Academy, a PreK-12 school for children with autism and other developmental disabilities.

1350 Alum Creek Dr.
Columbus, Ohio 43209
at Bridgeway Academy & Therapy Center

Broad Street

Located just east of Downtown Columbus, our center at Broad Street Presbyterian Church is a favorite for parents working in the city. Our partners at Broad Street Presbyterian Food Pantry generously work to provide a monthly “CELC Family Food Night” for all of our families.

760 E Broad St.
Columbus, Ohio 43205
at Broad Street Presbyterian Church

Champion Avenue

Located in the heart of the Near East Side community, our Champion Avenue Center has been open since March of 2014. This center is a part of a partnership with The Ohio State University and National Church Residences to bring different generations together in a structured learning environment. Each week, our young children and National Church Residences’ older adults participate in creative activities like art-making, singing, and tai chi.

240 N Champion Ave.
Columbus, Ohio 43203
at Champion Avenue Intergenerational Center

Main Street

The largest of our four centers, we have called this location home since the summer of 2016. This center is partnered with Central Community House, a comprehensive, neighborhood-based community center that serves the near east and near south neighborhoods of our community.

1150 E Main St.
Columbus, Ohio 43205
at Central Community House

Myrtle Avenue

Located in the heart of the South Linden community, our Myrtle Avenue Center has been open since October of 2016. We enroll children from 4 years through 5 years of age. This center is the result of an innovative partnership with the City of Columbus, Columbus City Schools, and the Child Development Council of Franklin County, Inc. We are grateful for the funding provided by Early Start Columbus that makes this partnership possible each year.

1400 Myrtle Ave.
Columbus, Ohio 43211
at Linden Park Neighborhood Early Childhood Education Center

A Typical Day

Our teachers use an emergent, child-centered approach to curriculum with intentionally planned experiences and an emphasis on play and interaction. Children spend much of the morning and afternoon engaged in activities of their choice. Daily routines also include circle time, building or outdoor walks, and gross motor play. Each day’s schedule is relaxed, allowing staff to spend time engaged with the children in activities as well as providing them with an opportunity to spend as much time as they want with specific activities.

Infant/Toddler Program

Routines and experiences are at the center of the framework that guides our infants, toddlers, and twos curriculum. This is because the routines and experiences that structure each day, and the responsive care and teaching provided during these times, are what enable children to develop a secure attachment with the important people in their lives and gain confidence in themselves as learners.

Routines offer the opportunity to build positive relationships with children and promote trust. Too often, the time spent diapering and toileting, feeding,
dressing, and helping children fall asleep are missed opportunities for development and learning. Our teachers and caregivers use routine times to nurture children’s curiosity, help them feel secure, and create a language-rich environment full of warm, loving, and meaningful interactions. This is what helps build the foundation for children’s future success in school and in life.

Additionally, we are intentional about providing daily experiences to engage children in playing with toys, imitating and pretending, enjoying books and stories, creating with art, and much more.

Preschool Program

We believe that the best way to help children succeed is to teach them to be creative, confident thinkers. That means offering them opportunities for hands-on exploration and discovery that help build lifelong critical thinking skills and foster confidence.

Days in our preschool classrooms include teacher-led and student-structured time indoors and outside. Children gather in the morning for a whole group class meeting to build community and investigate their current study. Later in the day, they gather again to share a read-aloud. In between children work in the classroom interest areas (library, dramatic play, toys and games, discovery, sand and water, art, music and movement, and blocks) and in teacher-led small group lessons.

Studies are hands-on, project-based investigations of topics that are relevant to children’s everyday experiences. The study approach is a method of integrating content learning through children’s in-depth investigations of a meaningful topic. Children raise questions about the topic, and through exploration and discovery, they find answers to their questions. Studies are exciting and engaging. They tap into children’s natural curiosity, resulting in a learning environment that is both fun and intentional.


Are you interested in enrolling in one of our centers? Complete an enrollment inquiry to be contacted by one of our team members about becoming apart of our CELC family.