February 2014 - In This Issue:
This past month offered us a very valuable experience with early childhood educators on the other side of the world. We had the unique opportunity to host two early childhood students from Duksung University in Seoul, South Korea. This experience touched the lives of many including the cooperating teachers in Preschool Two and Preschool Four, the preschool students in both of these classes, the UCDC host family that graciously welcomed these two women into their home for two weeks, and all of the other teachers at UCDC that had a chance to interact and learn from these young women.
In addition to daily interactions with Seungeun Cho and Coungmin Namgung at UCDC, this experience also included Falk, Carlow, and CMU. Each early childhood center hosted students as well and after the students spent a full day in the classroom at each respective school, the evenings were full of events that included all twelve of these young women as well as representatives from each of the schools. Culture was shared as food was sampled from both countries at various events, customs were discussed through formal and informal activities, and many memories were created through diverse experiences throughout the city of Pittsburgh and beyond. Some of the favorite activities included a night out at Mitchell's Fish Market at the Waterfront, a trip to the Fred Rogers Center in Latrobe, shopping at various locations in and around Pittsburgh, and a look at some of the museums in our city. These women will continue on to visit other locations in the United States as they finish up their winter vacation (yes, they chose to do an internship on their time off!).
We thoroughly enjoyed our time spent with the students from Duksung University as well as the collaboration between the schools in Pittsburgh. What an awesome way to start off the new year and we look forward to many more collaborative experiences in the future!
Jamie Wincovitch, Education Coordinator
Top Ten Things Your Preschooler Wants You to Know
By Cathy Baier, Corrie Anderson, and Joan Thompson (Preschool Three)
1. I live up to your expectations of me. When you expect that I will be able to manage them, then I will follow rules and routines.
2. I can do it myself. While we are in a hurry sometimes, I know you may think it's easier for you to do it. But I want to learn how to do things for myself. I like when I can do things by myself and it makes me feel proud!
3. I feel discouraged when you fix what I have done. If I dress myself and my pants and shirt don't match, that's okay....I have my own unique style. When I make my bed, it doesn't have to be perfect. I feel successful when I do it myself and, in the process, I'm learning!
4. I want to try to solve problems by myself. If you always do it for me, then I won't learn to resolve my own issues. Trying to work out problems enhances my negotiating skills.
Ellen Galinsky (2010) expresses the importance of giving children the opportunity to work through challenges, "Life is full of stresses and challenges. Children who are willing to take on challenges (instead of avoiding them or simply coping with them) do better in school and in life."
5. I like to do big kids' jobs. Let me help with chores like putting away the laundry or setting the table. Being a helper makes me feel capable and an integral part of the family.
6. Tell me when I make good choices. When you are responsive to my actions, I'll continue doing the things you admire me for.
As described in the National Association for the Education of Young Children's (NAEYC) journal, Teaching Young Children (2013), giving your child both verbal and nonverbal feedback, noticing details in his or her accomplishment, highlighting success, and encouraging next steps are ways to point out your child's accomplishments. These ways promote learning and help the child understand and comprehend his or her successes.
7. I like routines a lot. I like knowing what is expected of me and what will happen next. Routines help me feel secure.
8. I like being silly. Humor makes routine tasks fun. Singing as we work is also a good way to accomplish tasks together.
Not only do humor and music make daily activities enjoyable, they, along with the use of puppets, are strategies that can be beneficial in the use of transitions (Degel Sanchez, Steece-Doran & Jablon, 2013).
9. Give me warnings when a transition is coming up. I like to have time to finish what I am doing. Let me know what we are doing next, I feel more secure when I know what to expect of my day.
10. I need unstructured play time with materials like dress-ups, paint and paper, or a big cardboard box. I can use my creativity and imagination. Unstructured play allows me to focus on my own ideas and creativity. It's not about the product of my play, my focus is the process.
Degel Sanchez, Steece-Doran, & Jablon (2013). Planning for positive guidance: Powerful interactions make a difference. Teaching Young Children, 6(2). Retrieved from http://www.naeyc.org/tyc/article/planning-for-positive-guidance
Galinsky, E. (2010). Mind in the making: The seven essential life skills every child needs. New York, NY: Harper.
National Association for the Education of Young Children.(2013). 10X: "Good job" alternatives. Teaching Young Children, 7 (1). Retrieved from http:// www.naeyc.org/tyc/article/good-job-alternatives
Song Lyrics - Hokey Pokey
By Toddler Two
Toddler Two has been doing the Hokey Pokey recently. We gather and make a toddler circle. A teacher begins to sing and anyone joins in. Toddler Two children participate in the Hokey Pokey with great gusto. Most of the children have a big smile on their face as they move their bodies. The cold winter gives us a good reason to move and exercise inside. Toddlers learn their body parts and left from right as they move. We have fun and usually as toddlers do someone yells, "AGAIN!," when we finish.
Here are the lyrics in case you want to try this at home!
You put your right hand in,
You put your right hand out,
You put your right hand in,
And you shake it all about,
You do the hokey pokey
and you turn yourself around
That what it's all about.
- left hand
- right foot
- left foot
- back side
- whole self
UCDC Philosophy Explained
By Mary Beth McCulloch, Director
Parent Question: What are the differences between infant and toddler classrooms? My child is transitioning soon, do you think she will have a hard time?
The most visible difference between the infant and toddler classrooms is the group size. Group size increases from eight children to ten children when moving from infants to toddlers. Also, the children in the toddler room range from 18 months to three years of age, so there is a possibility that the children in the classroom could be on the older end of a "toddler" (meaning that some of the children can be close to three years old). This is a very large age range, but we are very committed to having children stay with their teachers for longer periods of time in both the infant and toddler classrooms. This practice allows us to individualize our approach to care and learning for each child, which is part of our Center philosophy. We want to get to know all of the children really well so that we can customize our curriculum to meet everyone's developmental needs and individual interests. Infant and toddler rooms each have three full time teachers, which helps to support our individualized approach to learning by allowing interactions with small groups of children or one on one as much as possible.
Another big difference is how independent the children are in the classroom. They are learning so much from their peers and they are always eager (once they are adjusted) to venture out and try new experiences and new activities. While we are always supporting and encouraging more independent behavior in the toddler room, this does not imply that we won't help your child with any tasks that they need help with. We will not let children become frustrated in their efforts to accomplish something, but we will allow them time and space to practice and eventually be successful, guiding them and helping them when needed.
The children in the toddler room are often much more physically active than the children in the infant room. Sometimes in an infant room, only two or three children are mobile, but in a toddler room, all ten are constantly in motion! Language is also continuing to emerge and children are encouraged to use their words and practice language throughout the day. Sometimes this can be frustrating for children because they want to be understood and their language skills may not be at a level that allows constant comprehension. Another aspect of a toddler room is the play. Most of the children in a toddler room are still engaging in solitary play (playing alone) or parallel play (playing with the same toy next to a child), which means that you might not see as many small group interactions as you might expect even though the children are older. As they get a bit older, you might see associative play taking place, which is when the child is interested in the people playing but not in the activity they are doing, or when there is no organized activity at all. In associative play, there is a substantial amount of interaction involved, but the activities are not coordinated. A more sophisticated type of play is cooperative play, which emerges when children are older.
Another thing that you might notice is that teachers are busy in a different way in the toddler room. In an infant room, teachers might be sitting to bottle feed or sitting on the floor engaged quietly with one or two babies. You may even see them sitting with older infants who are playing in the sensory table. These are all signs of a teacher being responsible to children's needs and they reflect appropriate interactions. Alternatively, in a toddler room, you might see one teacher with six children at the table using finger paint, another teacher dancing to music while children play instruments, while another teacher is supervising block building with a small group of children. The big difference in these activities for the teachers is the level of supervision required while extending and supporting the play. It's difficult to step away from block building with toddlers, because blocks can tumble and hurt someone. On the other hand, supervising six children paint gives teachers the chance to ask open ended questions to the group, use new vocabulary, encourage turn taking, and observe the skills that the children have and are developing. These observations help teachers plan new activities that meet the needs and interests of the group as well as work on their individual developmental assessments.
In a toddler room, children's physical interactions may begin to change as well. Developmentally, children are starting to think about control and power. They are still very egocentric and are not yet very empathetic or aware of consequences. This means that their interactions with one another might include physical interactions, which differ in intensity from the infant room. Children are rarely trying to hurt one another but a shove or a squeeze might be their only way to get their very important point across. Factor in that the group size is bigger and the kids are bigger and it might seem like a very different environment from the infant room. Children are not being malicious or trying to cause trouble, it's just a toddler's way of figuring out his space and how he fits into that space both physically and emotionally.
The transition from infants to toddlers can be the most difficult transition that children will make while at UCDC. Most infants have been with the same caregivers for a long time and have formed a very healthy attachment to them. This creates a bond that is typically hard to manage when they are visiting and transition to the toddler room. They miss their old teachers and the routines that they know so well. They might also miss the other children in the room and the safety and security of the environment that was so comforting and welcoming to them and their families. Parents often struggle with this transition for the very same reasons. You've placed a lot of trust in the teachers that took care of your baby and now it's time to move on! You and your child will have to work at getting to know the new teachers and forming a new relationship. This takes time and might feel different than when you were getting to know the infant teachers. Rest assured that it won't take long for both you and your child to feel comfortable and secure. New experiences and activities will support your toddler's growth and development and you will be amazed at the growth and change that will happen - all in a good way!
UCDC Reads by Preschool Three
Knuffle Bunny Too: A Case of Mistaken Identity by Mo Willems
This is a favorite of the children in Preschool Three right now and they like to have it read to them over and over. They relate to Trixie who brings her bunny to school only to find out that a classmate has brought a similar toy. During the course of this humorous story, the bunnies get mixed up and Trixie and Sonja become best friends. Some of the children know the story well enough that they read it on their own. At the epilogue of the story the children ask their own questions when they look at the picture of the fathers: "What do you think they are thinking?" Then they answer their own question: "They are thinking that they hope Trixie and Sonja don't get their bunnies mixed up again!"
Spotlight on Staff
Take some time to get to know the teachers of Preschool Four. They are a dynamic and energetic group of teachers!
My teaching style in three words:
- "Calm, caring, and consistent" - Claudia
- "Understanding, Individualized, and Playful" - Katie
- "Firm, fair, and fun" - Justin
Favorite children's book:
- "The Mitten Tree and Slowly, Slowly, Moves The Sloth" - Claudia
- "The Paper Princess by Elisa Kleven" - Katie
- "My favorite children's book growing up was the series of Berenstain Bears books, and Dr. Seuss books. Both books I enjoyed for very different reasons. The Berenstain Bears books were witty and rather hilarious to me when I was younger, while the rhyme schemes in Dr. Seuss books seemed to always keep me hooked. To my knowledge, I believe most of my childhood books are in my house to this day." - Justin
What I'm reading now:
- "I haven't started anything new for a while but I would like to read the new book by Sue Monk Kidd. She also wrote The Secret Life of Bees." - Claudia
- "Textbooks!" - Katie
- "Anymore, the only reading I do consists of old texts from school, to brush up on my knowledge to become certified as an elementary level teacher. The study guides and practice tests are really the only thing I have time to sit down and actually read. Although, after recently seeing the new Hunger Games movie, I would not mind reading the next part of that series to see what happens in the story line." - Justin
Words of inspiration:
- "Play, Play, Play! Enjoy the time you have with your kids because time goes by so quickly." - Claudia
- "'Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.' - Benjamin Franklin" - Katie
- "Inspirational words for me sometimes come in quotes. For example, one quote that always inspired me to achieve greatness is from the famous hockey player Wayne Gretzky. He said, 'You miss 100% of the shots you don't take.' Basically to me, it means if I don't at least try, I will never get to where I am satisfied with my life decisions. You always have to keep an open mind, which brings along another quote, 'When one door closes, another opens.' This quote is also inspirational to me because for me, it is the absolute truth. I have lived it on a few occasions in my life and I stand by the quote." - Justin
How I take care of myself:
- "I try to do as much walking as I can." - Claudia
- "Finding time to break bread and laugh with my friends and family." - Katie
- "I try to eat as healthy as possible, but it is hard sometimes when you are on the go. I also play adult ice and inline hockey on a week to week basis." - Justin
Why didn't someone tell me this about teaching:
- "That I would always be so busy." - Claudia
- "There is no other job in the world where you are greeted every single morning with cheers and hugs from the group of people you spend your day with - it's such a wonderful job perk!" - Katie
- "Having peers have a conversation about their problems with work, or with other students can often lead to greater accomplishments, and how powerful the art of time sharing is in the early childhood educational settings." - Justin
My two cents:
- "We could really use a winter thaw! I can't wait to get the kids outside to play in the snow!" - Claudia
- "An important lesson I've learned over the years is that teaching doesn't require patience. Instead, it requires understanding. If an adult can truly understand why a child has come to behave or function in a certain way in a given circumstance, accepting that behavior and approaching a child on her level becomes effortless." - Katie
- "The staff here are incredibly warming and welcoming, especially to a newbie and only male teacher. I hope I accomplish what I set out to do." - Justin
- "I am very proud of my own children. It's so exciting to see them growing into very accomplished young adults. I am really trying to enjoy this stage of their lives." - Claudia
- "It's hard to identify my proudest accomplishment, but one of my most recent accomplishments is learning how to refinish and update antique furniture. It's become a very practical hobby!" - Katie
- "Graduating college was big for me because I knew that after that moment, my life was about to change for the better." - Justin
When I knew I had to teach:
- "Probably not until sophomore year of college." - Claudia
- "I have felt the call to work with young children for a very long time. One of my first jobs in high school was working for an afterschool program with the YMCA. In college, I served with Americorps for an early literacy program called Jumpstart. I have been working with young children and teaching preschool in the nearly ten years since. I can't say when exactly I knew I had to teach because there has never been a time when I didn't know." - Katie
- "To be honest, my fourth grade teacher in my elementary teacher inspired me to become a teacher because, in my opinion, she was the perfect combination of fair, firm and fun.
- "My future goal is to try to do something creative. Maybe a little writing!" - Claudia
- "To continue learning about learning through completing the Applied Developmental Psychology Masters program at Pitt... I'm halfway there!" - Katie
- "To become an educator at the elementary level, and truly make a difference in somebody's life." - Justin