Early Childhood Overview

  • Columbus City Schools’ Early Childhood Education Program is a developmentally appropriate program that provides comprehensive services to preschool age children and their families in the following areas:

    • Education
    • Health Services
    • Social Services
    • Family and community partnerships

    For the 2024/2025 school year, the Early Childhood Education Program is being offered tuition-waived for families in the Columbus City School district.  

    Every child we serve will be successful and prepared to enter kindergarten ready to continue learning as a result of being in a program that:

    • Believes every child can and will learn
    • Sees promise, hope and potential in each child
    • Employs highly qualified and dedicated staff members
    • Monitors its programs to ensure continuous improvement
    • Provides ongoing professional development for its staff
    • Involves and values parents as partners in their child’s education
    • Aligns an appropriate curriculum and assessment with state and national standards 



    The years between the ages of three and eight are critical ones in a child's education and should be viewed as a developmental unit. To a great extent, the foundation that is laid during these years determines what happens in later life. A strong early childhood education program can ensure that this foundation is firm and secure.

    Young children between the ages of three and eight think and learn in ways which are related to their stages of development and which differ from those of older children and adults. Research and Child Development theorists (Vygotsky and Piaget) have documented that children learn best when they construct their own knowledge. Interaction with people and objects in the environment is essential to childrens' construction of knowledge.

    There is agreement among many early childhood educators that teachers of young children should implement practices that are developmentally appropriate. A strong early childhood education program is grounded in many concrete experiences which young children must have before they can negotiate abstract learning. This type of early childhood program is predicated on a philosophy based on research and knowledge about how children think and learn.


    The mission of Columbus City Schools’ early childhood education program is to provide a strong foundation for all children- a foundation that prepares each student for the next level of learning and beyond. This mission is based on the over arching mission and vision of Columbus City Schools: Each student is highly educated, prepared for leadership and service, and empowered for success as a citizen in a global community and a vision of 100% Student Success.

    We believe that creating a vision that says, “Every child that we serve will be successful and prepared to enter kindergarten ready to continue learning.” is an action that will inspire and rally the many forces of change within our city to become our partners in providing high quality education for all of Columbus’s children. We further believe that caring parents, teachers and other individuals with professional expertise will be united by this vision and be a constructive voice and advocate for Columbus ‘children – a voice that says, “this is the kind of education our children need for today and for tomorrow.”


    The future of our nation depends on the strength of its young people. A majority of children spend a significant part of their early years being educated and cared for away from home. Those who care about the well-being of young children must make certain that these settings provide all children with the support that is essential to their healthy growth and development. High quality early childhood education programs can prevent the failure that many children experience later in school. A child’s early years are at a time when the most rapid mental and physical growth occurs. Many research studies point out the significance of the first five years of life in determining the child’s ultimate level of intellectual growth and functioning.

    Historical Perspective

    The Columbus City School system has a history of providing early childhood programs for its students. With ESEA Title 1 funds, the district operated a Pre-Kindergarten Program as part of its efforts to enhance primary language development. These programs operated in the late sixties and early seventies. In addition to earlier Pre-Kindergarten Programs, Columbus City Schools initiate All-Day Kindergarten in January 1972 as a supplementary program in selected Chapter 1 “high priority” elementary schools. These programs were designed to provide extra help to the neediest students. In 1992, Columbus City Schools implemented Full-Day Kindergarten in all of its elementary schools, as a result a Levy Promise to voters.

    In January 1989, the Board of Education commissioned a 40 member community and professional task force to study the K-8 programs in Columbus Public Schools. In December 1989, the task force delivered its report to the Board of Education. One of the Task Force’s principal recommendations asked the district to develop strong early childhood programs, especially for pre-kindergarten children. In January 1990, the Board approved a proposal to establish a Department of Early Childhood Education. Columbus Public School recognized the importance of early childhood education by establishing a Department of Early Childhood Education to oversee programs and practices for children, ages three through age eight. An outgrowth of the focus on early childhood was the establishment of the Early Childhood Education Reform Committee. This committee, made up of administrators, teachers, parents and community representatives, developed a philosophy statement and recommendations for board policy in order that all efforts in early childhood education are coordinated and in keeping with guidelines of the NAEYC (National Association for the Education of Young Children.)

Contact Us

  • Early Childhood Education
    Central Enrollment Center
    430 Cleveland Ave.
    Columbus, OH 43215

    Southland Center
    3700 S. High St.
    Columbus, OH 43207

    Special Needs Preschool
    (Phone) 614-365-5204/5205
    (Fax) 614-365-8745

    Terra A. Baker Ed.D.
    Division of ECE, Director

    Rochelle L. Wilkerson
    Division of ECE, Supervisor

    Lindsey S. Kubli
    Division of ECE, Supervisor

    Rhonda Childs, Ed.D.
    Division of ECE Principal/Supervisor at Linden Park Neighborhood Early Childhood Education Center

    Full Personnel List

  • Pre-K Enrollment

    The Columbus City School system is dedicated to offering tuition-waived Pre-K. For more information on Pre-K enrollment, click here.