UCDC Developments
March 2014

In This Issue

I'm sure that you are all as ready for warm weather, outdoor play, and no snow as I am.  Our gyms have been busy these past few months!  We are all anxious and excited to get outside when the warmer weather starts.


Even though the weather has been less than desirable, wonderful things have continued to happen at UCDC. These past few months have been incredibly busy with visits from students and faculty of various departments on campus.  Over the past two semesters, we have hosted over 100 student visits, including students from the school of Dentistry, Instruction and Learning, Psychology, Early Childhood Education, and Nutrition, not to mention our wonderful visitors from Duksung University.  The cooperative learning that takes place between the University students and our staff and children is a wonderful opportunity for all involved.  The dental student visits and nutrition student visits are very popular with the children and a few families mentioned how often they had to make yogurt parfaits at home after the dietary students were here!  We hope that you enjoy the visits and talk to your children about them.  The link between these early years and higher education is very powerful, and it sends a great message to everyone that has a chance to be a part of these experiences.  We are currently in the process of hosting the Speech and Hearing screenings with the preschool children as well.


In anticipation of the warmer weather, the Gardening Committee has begun to plan for spring planting and will work on cooperative planting activities including herbs, sunflowers, and vegetables.  They will begin some plants inside and transplant when the weather cooperates!  We are also exploring the possibility of doing some composting in the building. If you regularly compost at home and have any tips, we'd love to hear about them.  Please email Jamie at jmw170@pitt.edu


Speaking of plants, we will have our annual PLANT SALE- benefiting our Staff Appreciation Dinner and continued upgrades to the playground.  Plant pick-up will be on May 3rd and order forms will be distributed and the end of March.  Our plant sale is one of our biggest fund-raisers, so please plan to buy and encourage  your colleagues, neighbors and families to support  this effort.


Our Annual Staff Appreciation Dinner will be on May 30th this year.  Please mark your calendar, arrange a babysitter,  and plan to attend to show your appreciation for the loving and supportive care that your child's teacher shows throughout the year.  This is a fun event that we look forward to every year.  Each year, new families report that they are impressed by the event and always have a great time!  We hope to see you there!


The center will be closed on March 13th for one of our three Professional Development Days.  On this day, staff will be completing fire-safety training, then boarding a PITT shuttle for an educational field trip to the Carnegie Science Center.  We will play, learn, explore, and think about science in the context of the work that we do in our classrooms.  Upon returning, classroom teams will discuss their experiences, develop science related activities and share with the larger group.   We will also celebrate staff awards this day- Stephanie, Heidi, Corrie and Amanda Sloan will each celebrate five years at the center, while Joan and Jennifer Rodella will celebrate ten years!  Congratulations and thank you for your many years of excellent teaching!


Also on Thursday, we are scheduled to complete upgrades to our elevator. New censors will be installed which will eliminate any possibility of a child getting hurt while entering and exiting the elevator.  This is a rather large upgrade and they are hoping to have the work done on Thursday, with no interruptions to service existing when we return on Monday.  Toddler 1 will also get a bathroom makeover, including a new changing table and shelves.  This work will likely not be complete by Monday but the Toddler 1 teachers will keep their families up-to-date on the status of the project.


Please remember that UCDC will be closed on Thursday, March 13th and Friday, March 14th.


We are also in the process of finalizing our UCDC t-shirt sale, an additional fundraiser that supports the Staff Appreciation Dinner.   This year, we will be selling both short and long sleeve t-shirts, adorned with art work from one of our preschool classrooms.  Samples should arrive shortly and will be on display so that you can complete your order form and show your school pride!


I hope this update is helpful and that you will mark your calendars for upcoming events. 



Mary Beth  


Encouraging Etiquette and Courtesy in Your Child
By Wendy Colbert, Toddler Two
Child on walk
Children function best when they know what is expected of them and what action to take.  This is as true for social situations as it is for more physical actions like getting dressed or riding a bike.  A child's sense of dignity is encouraged by knowing what to do in social situations and the routines of learning manners help children build empathy for others.

In order to help children understand and learn social expectations, we should treat children with the same respect that we offer adults. It is also helpful to model respect and empathy for others, explain social interactions and expected behavior, and explicitly teach the routines and rituals of manners if necessary. These actions will help to assist children in building the necessary skills that will give them a foundation for developing the skills and empathy of positive social interactions.


Social interactions can seem intuitive to adults but can sometimes be confusing to a child. To an adult, it may seem like greeting someone is a simple action, but young children observe many different types of greetings in the adults around them and may be confused about what should be said in each different situation.


Sometimes a child may need to be coached on a social skill through modeling or role play. Let's take greeting someone as an example. First, the adult can model the interactions they want to encourage in the child. This can be as simple as consistently saying the greeting and the other individual's name while looking at them. The child will be listening to the adult's words, intonation and body language. Another idea would be to role play. Children learn best through play and they love to pretend, so this is typically a fun activity for children. You may start by saying, "When you see your teacher, you can say, 'Good morning.' Let's pretend you are (use the name of your child's teacher in this example. I will use Janet in my example). Good morning Janet."   Then you may want to say, "Now I will be Janet and you can say 'Good morning' to me." If your child is reluctant, you can offer them a script again or try again another time with no pressure.  You can talk to your child about greeting people and you could let your child know that it makes people feel good when you greet them. You could also ask your child how it makes her feel when she is welcomed in the mornings. This discussion can be a good conversation starter about helping others to feel happy.


Before arriving at school the next day, you may want to say, "Do you remember how to say good morning to Janet when we see her?" This allows the child to feel and answer in the affirmative while offering an understated prompt to the behavior.

If your child does not use a greeting when you expect it, do not despair or call attention to this. At another time, practice the greeting again. Soon your child will be greeting others with enthusiasm and pride.


Other courtesy and etiquette skills that young children can learn are to close a door quietly, how to knock on a door and how to answer a knock at a door. It can be a great game to see who can close the door the most quietly, or to listen as each door in the house is closed quietly; do they all sound the same? These little details are interesting to young children and can be helpful in teaching new skills. Closing doors quietly, knocking on doors and answering the door are all ways of showing respect to others.


I am sure you can think of skills your child could use in social situations. Have fun teaching these skills and role playing with your child.


Some additional resources:


How to Teach Grace and Courtesy, Montessori at Home or School, Chitwood, Deb, ISBN 978-1-937683-06-1

UCDC Reads by Toddler Two
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr.

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, by Bill Martin Jr., is currently Toddler 2's favorite book.  In the story, the letters are climbing a coconut tree and having fun.  Suddenly, the tree becomes too full, and they all fall down, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom!  Comforted by their parents, the letters get untangled in alphabetical order.  At the end, A dares the others to do it again!  When the book is finished, we always sing the ABC's at the children's request.  Not only do they enjoy the rhyming, rhythm, and repetition of the story, the kids also love to play with the coconut tree and letters that go with it.  Toddler 2 can't get enough!  If you are looking for a fun book to read at home, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom will not disappoint.



Lactation Rooms at the University of Pittsburgh
It is clear that UCDC supports breastfeeding mothers by offering private spaces in the building, supporting on-demand feeding schedules for infants, and welcoming parents to nurse their children anywhere in our building. 


Fortunately, the larger University also supports breastfeeding by providing Lactation Rooms on campus. Click here for a list of spaces around campus.

Pajama Day at UCDC

In honor of the first day of Spring, UCDC will be holding another Center-wide Pajama Day! So, on Thursday, March 20th, don't forget to send your child to school in their pajamas!

UCDC Philosophy Explained - Field Trips
By Jamie Wincovitch, Education Coordinator

Parent Question: Why don't the children of UCDC regularly go on field trips?


Answer: There is no doubt that the city of Pittsburgh offers tons of opportunities for young children and families in a variety of venues. There is always something to do in and around the city at the Children's Museum, Pittsburgh Zoo, the plentiful Carnegie Library system, the Carnegie Museums, and there are a plethora of parks for outdoor entertainment.  So, you ask - why don't the children at UCDC get to take part in these adventures and activities while they are at UCDC?  


Great question.


I will paint a picture for you that may help to highlight the reasons that we feel taking large groups of young children on a group field trip may not be in the best interest of the individual child.


Teacher #1:

In a toddler classroom, the children are all very interested in dinosaurs. The teacher responds to this interest by planning a trip to the Carnegie Museum of Natural History. After she arranges the financial aspect of the field trip, she must get a few parent volunteers to assist on this trip (this part is easy!). She then packs a bag for this excursion that includes diapers and wipes, changes of clothes, snack, water, an emergency pack, cell phone...  


On the morning of the trip, the teachers make sure every child has used the bathroom and/or had their diaper changed. They then proceed to the hallway to get their coats on. When everyone is ready, inevitably, one of the children requires another diaper change. The hot toddlers wait in the hallway with their coats and hats on, while one teacher takes the soiled child back into the classroom and changes their diaper. When they are all ready to go, the teacher pairs up the children for the long walk. Of course, one of the toddlers isn't happy with their partner (remember, they are toddlers), so this takes another few minutes to organize the group. Finally, the group leaves the building and about halfway down Fifth Avenue, a toddler refuses to walk. More negotiation ensues and finally the group moves on. About an hour after this group started on their journey, they arrive at their destination. Of course, they are all tired and hungry. One teacher goes to the front desk to pay for the group while the other teacher settles the children down for a snack after taking off their coats (this takes a while as well). 


After almost an hour and a half since the children first put their coats on to get on this field trip, they are ready to see the dinosaurs. First, they walk through the room where the paleontologist is working with real materials. Unfortunately, they can't see so a teacher has to lift them up. All of them. And because there are so many of them, they must take turns. If you have a toddler, you know that taking turns isn't easy. Then the excitement ensues as they open up the doors to the dinosaur room. They see HUGE dinosaurs roaming the exhibit. And guess what? Three of the kids are scared! So, tears start rolling and teachers are needed for this one on one comforting, thus disabling any sort of educational interaction for the remaining seven toddlers.


I won't go on with this field trip - I think you get the point.


Teacher #2:

In a toddler classroom, the children are all very interested in dinosaurs. The teacher responds to this interest by taking the time before her work day starts with the children to borrow a variety of dinosaurs from different classrooms. After her working day, she stops at the Carnegie Library to check out several books on the topic that are age appropriate and interesting. The next day, she makes casts with the children that have dinosaurs in them. When they dry, the children will be able to use a chisel and brush (much like in a real dinosaur dig) to excavate the dinosaur. She then fills the sensory table with sand, tiny trees, rocks, and dinosaurs for the children to manipulate. In the gym, the toddlers crank up "We Are the Dinosaurs" by Laurie Berkner and march around the gym with wild abandonment. This unit of study lasts weeks with this particular group. They learn so much through hands-on experimentation, books, engagement, and play. This is how curriculum happens at UCDC.


So, we do agree that Pittsburgh is one of the best cities to raise children because it houses so many awesome opportunities. But, for the best interest of the children, we typically don't explore these opportunities on group field trips. It usually doesn't offer the child the best learning opportunity and experience in a group setting and it becomes more stressful than enjoyable for all parties involved.

Song Lyrics by Preschool One
Hi, My Name is Joe

Recently, the teachers in Preschool One introduced this song in the classroom and the children can be heard singing it not only in group but throughout the day and throughout the classroom.   What really makes it silly for this group of children is that one of the children's name in the classroom is Joey. When anyone says his name, there is always another person who begins to sing the song.  It makes everyone giggle. 


Here are the lyrics:


Hi, my name is Joe
And I work in a button factory
I got a wife and a dog and a family,
One day, my boss says, "Joe, are you busy?"
I said, "no"
"Then push this button with your right hand" / push an imaginary button with your right hand

Hi, my name is Joe
And I work in a button factory
I got a wife and a dog and a family,
One day, my boss says, "Joe, are you busy?"
I said, "no."
"Then push this button with your left hand." / push imaginary buttons with right and left hands


Hi, my name is Joe
And I work in a button factory
I got a wife and a dog and a family,

One day, my boss says, "Joe, are you busy?"
I said, "no."
"Then push this button with your right foot." / push imaginary buttons with right hand, left hand, and right foot

Hi, my name is Joe
And I work in a button factory
I got a wife and a dog and a family,

One day, my boss says, "Joe, are you busy?"
I said, "no."
"Then push this button with your left foot." / push imaginary buttons with right hand, left hand, right foot, and left foot

Hi, my name is Joe
And I work in a button factory
I got a wife and a dog and a family,

One day, my boss says, "Joe, are you busy?"
I said, "no."
"Then push this button with your head." / push imaginary buttons with right hand, left hand, right foot, left foot, bum, and head

Hi, my name is Joe
And I work in a button factory
I got a wife and a dog and a family,
One day, my boss says, "Joe, are you busy?"
I said, "YES!"

Spotlight on Staff
Infant Three Teachers
Infant Three has an amazing crew of teachers. They are a caring, empathetic, and energized bunch. Take a moment to get to know this team a little bit better.

My teaching style in three words:

  • "Facilitator, Observer, Snuggler!" - Shelley
  • "An ongoing, interactive process!" - Amanda
  • "Fun, creative, and caring!" - Karol

Favorite children's book:

  • "My mom and dad enrolled me in the Mickey Mouse Book Club. Every month I would get a new book based on Mickey Mouse characters. I loved getting a new book every month through the mail, it was so exciting to me!"  - Shelley
  • "There are WAY too many to mention...I am partial to books that feature squirrels, however." - Amanda
  • "Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr." - Karol

What I'm reading now:

  • "Memoirs of Dying Man, by S. Ray Cook.  We went to school together and it's his first book.  I also have been enjoying The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon." - Shelley  
  • "The Bible and the Hunger Games Trilogy (for the 2nd time)" - Amanda
  • "One Day My Soul Just Opened Up,  By Iyanla Vanzant" - Karol

Words of inspiration:

  • "I tried to look for a quote here, but I'm going to just use my own words.  I try my hardest every day to be the person--the wife, the friend, the teacher, the sister--that I wish I could always be.  I truly think if you want people to see you in a certain light, then you have to turn on that light and project it because people won't see you the way you want them to if you are always in shadow.  Supportive words, compliments, true care and concern, listening instead of lecturing-these are not always the easiest of attributes and it's easy to fail but it's important to me to keep trying.  You CAN be the person you want to be by just projecting that person.  Even if you don't believe it at first, putting it out into the world will help you succeed." - Shelley
  • "'Our children are watching us live, and what we are shouts louder than anything we can say.' -Wilfred A. Peterson" - Amanda
  • "The Serenity Prayer" - Karol

How I take care of myself:

  • "The usual I guess, I belong to a gym, eat those veggies, take my vitamins.  More so I think, I take time out for myself, spend time with friends and my family, and I do a whole lot of laughing!" - Shelley
  • "Prayer, exercise, LOTS of fruits and veggies (and wine, did I mention wine?)" - Amanda
  • "Pray, meditate, and spend time with my family." -Karol

Why didn't someone tell me about teaching:

  • "There is so much more to it than working with children!  You must be a constant learner, a confidant, a leader, a follower, and a role model.  You must know about accreditation, state rules and regulations, policies, and curriculum.  To be successful, you must be a good manager of time and a good communicator.  And you don't just work with children, you work with the whole family and sometimes whole communities to give children what they need and deserve.  You will work long nights and weekends to make materials, write profiles, and work on your accreditation criteria.  And at the end of the day, you will fall asleep knowing you are lucky enough to be blessed to do it again tomorrow!" - Shelley
  • "It's a 24/7 job. You NEVER stop thinking about how to do things more effectively and how to reach every child." - Amanda
  • "How time consuming it is and how close you get to the children." -Karol

My two cents:

  • "I'm rather tired of children being used as pawns in politics and the media.  Anytime someone needs a photo op for political gain, they are all over the news reading to kids or promising money for programs.  They will spend three and a half years cutting funds for children's programs and then a few months pretending to be friends of children and families.  Children deserve a good start in this world, stand up and start being an advocate!" - Shelley
  • "Be NICE!" - Amanda
  • Karol opted out of this question. For those of you that do know Karol, this is quite uncharacteristic. In my opinion, she has much more than two cents, closer to $200. She has advice for everyone and she wasn't able to scale it down to two cents!

Proudest accomplishment:

  • "Professionally, I would say it was being elected to the Board of Directors of the Pittsburgh Association for the Education of Young Children (PAEYC), the local affiliate of NAEYC." - Shelley
  • "Surviving three years as a single mother with two children under four years of age!" - Amanda
  • "Continuing to be there for my babies and hearing them laugh and giggle every day while knowing that I am doing my best to take care of them." - Karol

When I knew I had to teach:

  • "Probably when I was in elementary school!  I started out in business though, and each day I would watch the UCDC teachers with the children on the Cathedral lawn and my heart would just ache.  Thankfully I listened to my soul, I knew where I needed to be!" - Shelley
  • "As a student, I loved learning, so I wanted to help others learn." - Amanda
  • "From childhood when I used to play school with my cousins and I would always be the teacher." - Karol
Future goal: 
  • "To be more of an advocate for children, for families, and just for things in which I believe in general.  I've spent a lot of years honing my beliefs, I'd like to spend the rest of them making a difference in this world!" - Shelley
  • "I'd like to start a small organization that throws birthday parties for children in homeless and domestic abuse shelters. I'd also like to survive raising four children with at least a small portion of my sanity intact!" - Amanda
  • "To spend more time with my family back home." - Karol