UCDC Developments
April 2014

In This Issue
10,000 Tables
Shop. Grow. Cook. Eat. Together.

The Goal: 
One Year. 10,000 Tables.

Let's Move Pittsburgh has launched the 10,000 Tables pledge encouraging families throughout southwestern Pennsylvania to sit down together at least once a week for an entire year to enjoy a screen time-free, home-cooked meal.

Take the pledge today at www.letsmovepittsburgh.org 
Staff Appreciation Dinner
Save the Date!!!

The Annual Staff Appreciation Dinner will be held on Friday, May 30th at the Wyndham Hotel in Oakland. The event begins at 6:00 pm. 

Book your babysitter now so that you can be sure to be there to enjoy this stress-free evening with those that spend their days with your child.
For Your Information
Thanks so much! - We wanted to thank all of you that ordered shirts at our t-shirt fundraiser. 

Plant Sale - Our annual plant sale is happening now! This sale is one of our largest fundraisers and we're hoping that this long winter inspires more planting this spring. 

The order forms are due Tuesday, April 15th and the pickup is scheduled for Saturday, May 3rd. 
Answers to ECE Acronyms

ECE - Early Childhood Education

AAP - American Academy of Pediatrics

IFSP - Individual Family Service Plan

DPW - Department of Public Welfare

ECERS-R - Early Childhood Environmental Rating Scale - Revised

IEP - Individual Education Plan

DAP - Developmentally Appropriate Practice

CDA - Child Development Associate

ITERS-R - Infant/Toddler Environmental Rating Scale - Revised

HIPAA - Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act

NAEYC - National Association for the Education of Young Children

EI - Early Intervention

PennAEYC - Pennsylvania Association for the Education of Young Children

PAEYC - Pittsburgh Association for the Education of Young Children

OCD - Office of Child Development


Every profession has their acronyms. ECE, AAP, IFSP, DPW, ECERS-R, IEP, DAP, CDA, ITERS-R, HIPAA, NAEYC, EI, PennAEYC, PAEYC, and OCD are common language among the professionals in the field of early childhood education and there are many, many more! It seems like so much to keep up with and it's changing every single day. There is another acronym that is getting tons of attention in our field lately and that is STEM or STEAM. This acronym stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (with the "A," they have included Art). According to LiveScience, "STEM is a curriculum based on the idea of educating students in four specific disciplines - science, technology, engineering and mathematics - in an interdisciplinary and applied approach. Rather than teach the four disciplines as separate and discrete subjects, STEM integrates them into a cohesive  learning paradigm based on real-world applications." In other words, STEM is a way of thinking in order to help learners integrate knowledge across all areas in a holistic fashion, making it more connected for the learner. We know that children do not learn in isolation, so connecting their learning is the most successful way of helping them gain information.


At UCDC, we have always believed in this holistic approach to learning. We believe that they can learn so many "academic" skills in natural ways that are engaging and interesting to the learner. Putting the learner at the center of their learning proves success. That's a goal for our children at UCDC and one of the core pieces of STEM education.


We begin STEM education as early as infancy at UCDC. The activity choices engage the whole learner and allow the child to be an active participant in their learning. In the infant classroom, we allow them to explore their natural world by touching leaves, picking up sticks, and gazing at clouds while on a walk. These experiences allow the child to investigate the world around them. The toddler child may investigate how day is different than night and be challenged to determine these similarities and differences. Finally, in preschool, the teacher may focus on one tree on the playground for an entire year in order to show the effects that the seasons have on a single aspect of the environment. Being an active learner (as opposed to a passive one as in a child listening to a lecture or watching a video) provides much more understanding and depth of knowledge.


The great thing about STEM learning is that the young child is capable of it from birth. We don't have to teach them how to learn, but we need to learn how to teach them. Allowing them to explore, inviting them to question, and tapping into their natural curiosity are all ways in which we can encourage a child to learn. In this type of teaching, "what" questions are formulated to the child as opposed to "why" questions. "Why" implies that there is a correct answer and the child is being tested (e.g. "Why is the ping pong ball floating?") "What" questions open up a discussion between the adult and the child (e.g. "What is happening here?"). This dialogue lends itself to a deeper understanding of the concept being explored and opens up more opportunities for the teacher to facilitate learning while the child actively discovers.


As a more formal reinforcement to this important way of teaching, we dedicated last month's Professional Development Day to this topic. In order to more intentionally integrate STEM into UCDC's philosophy of play-based education, we decided the best way to open up this topic with the teachers was to have them play. So, thinking of STEM education and play-based learning, we all hopped on a bus to the Carnegie Science Center and we spent the morning playing.


We had an awesome morning! We had ample time to explore the entire Science Center including the SportsWorks. We were amazed at some of the teacher's agility on the trampoline and rock wall. We also witnessed some discoveries in the hands-on exhibits as well as the more passive activities. Best of all, the teachers worked together, felt a sense of community, and played together to discover science, technology, engineering, and math in a hands-on, play-based manner. Upon return to UCDC, the teachers debriefed in groups with guided questions in order to discuss their experiences and share big ideas. Finally, the teachers worked in their classroom teams to create plans for the children based on what they experienced and how they were inspired.


In order to deeper explore this idea of STEM based curriculum, we will be sending teachers to trainings on the topic and exploring other ways in which to integrate this type of learning into UCDC and our everyday experiences. We are very excited to learn more about this popular acronym and will keep you posted on our trials, successes, and experiments.



Jamie Wincovitch, Education Coordinator


On a side note, if you want to have a little friendly competition with yourself, the answers to the acronyms from the beginning of the article are to the left of this article.


How well did you do?


But It's My Baby...
By Heidi Kalsani, Infant One Head Teacher

When your "baby" turns one, often your first response is, "Where did the time go?"  This may be the time when you start thinking about their transition to a toddler classroom, but then you convince yourself that it is so far away. Before you know it, the day comes when you get the paperwork from your child's teacher indicating the upcoming transition.  So many emotions go through you.  You may feel nervous, excited, sad, or happy. These are all typical responses.  You may think, "My child seems ready to move on and explore, but it's my baby." 


You know that your child has such great teachers who know what your child needs now, and you may wonder, "What if they are sad in the new room?"  It is usually hardest for parents to move from the infant room to the toddler room because the infant classroom is where they dropped their "baby" off for the first time.  It will take time for the whole family to adjust.  Even if your "baby" seems fine with the change, there may be a time that they cry and cling to your leg as you try to leave them in a toddler classroom.  It will also take time for the teachers in the new room to get to know all your child's signals when they need something.  This is why the new classroom teachers meet with the parents, talk to the child's old teachers, and visit the new classroom with the child.  All of these practices help the new teachers to get to know you and your child better. 


It is also important to note that everyone's "baby" is different. Some children will run right into the new room and explore without looking back.  Other children will go in and not say anything, but look around the room before trying something.  Both responses are normal, it is just how your child processes new things.  Imagine how you feel when you are starting a new job in a new building. You do not know many of the faces, you aren't sure where things are and you don't know what is expected of you.  It takes time. This is why we try to give you time to process that your "baby" is moving to toddlers.  We also give the child time to visit with the new teachers while still in their current infant classroom. We may plan our gym times in order to play with the new class as well. If your child is adjusting easily, the transition to the new room might take a week, but on the opposite end, it could take up to a month.


Regression is also a typical reaction to a transition, so don't be surprised if they decide to cry when you leave them after a few weeks of good separations without tears.  They may miss their old classroom, teachers or friends. The feeling that they had in their infant room is comfortable, like their blanket is from home.  During a transition, it is also helpful to make sure that there are not too many transitions going on at home. Children struggle when too many things are changing at once. Another helpful hint to a successful transition is to adopt the same routine for saying goodbye as you had in the infant room when in the new toddler room. If you currently read a book to your child before you leave, then try doing that in the new room.  Find a routine that works for you and your child.


Also, the toddler classroom will look and feel different from the infant classroom.  Toddlers are much busier and they may express many more emotions as they try to gain more independence. The toddlers may also be bigger than your "baby."  Do not worry.  It will not take long for your "baby" to become one of the toddlers, with busy little fingers and feet. 


Just know that the teachers also understand that it is your "baby" and they are there to support you and your child through this transition time.  They will be able to listen and answer any questions that you may have. After your child is comfortable in their new toddler classroom and secure with their new environment, remember that the door to their old infant classroom is always open if your child wants to come by to say "hi" or to give their old friends a hug.




"Love, Learning and Routines" and "Reaction to Change"

from www.zerotothree.org 


Song Lyrics by Infant Two
Apples and Bananas

The children of Infant Two absolutely love this song. One child will go over to where the iPod is kept and say, "eat, eat, eat." Once it's turned on, all the children will usually drop what they are doing and go over to what we call the "dance floor." They spin around in circles, laugh and giggle. They've also begun to grab the hand of a friend and dance with them and some will also sing the lyrics!!!


Apples and Bananas


I like to eat, eat, eat apples and bananas I like to eat, eat, eat apples and bananas


I like to ate, ate, ate ay-ples and ba-nay-nays I like to ate, ate, ate ay-ples and ba-nay-nays


I like to eat, eat, eat ee-ples and bee-nee-nees I like to eat, eat, eat ee-ples and bee-nee-nees


I like to ite, ite, ite i-ples and by-ny-nys I like to ite, ite, ite i-ples and by-ny-nys


I like to ote, ote, ote oh-ples and bo-no-nos I like to ote, ote, ote oh-ples and bo-no-nos


I like to oot, oot ,oot oo-ples and boo-noo-noos I like to oot, oot, oot oo-ples and boo-noo-noos

UCDC Philosophy Explained
By Mary Beth McCulloch
Whose Shoes?

Parent Question: It seems like the teachers are always giving the children at UCDC choices, but when I do it at home it feels more like negotiating and that someone wins (my child) and someone loses (me!)


The definition of choice is: the right, power or opportunity to choose


The definition of negotiating is: to deal or bargain with another or others


The last place that you want to find yourself is on the bargaining end of a discussion with a 3-year-old.  Bargaining will often feel more like giving up control and/or not setting the boundaries rather than allowing children to have some control over the choices that you have given them. Striking a deal or a bargain with a 2, 3, or 4-year-old gives them the sense that they are in control or that they are in charge.  Bargaining usually ends up being on their terms because of an existing situation (being in the midst of wanting something or not wanting to do something). Before you put yourself in a situation where you are in the midst of all of this, the important thing to remember is that not everything in life is a choice and that sometimes an adult (parent, grandparent, teacher) has the option to make a decision or offer a choice.  Letting children make all of the choices all of the time gives them too much control and they are not capable of handling that much responsibility in making the "right" choices all of the time. An adult offering a choice is a well thought out plan keeping the control of the situation in the adult's hands, while giving the illusion of power to the child.


Sounds complicated, but it isn't too complicated.  Children need experience in making decisions and having choices, including those that are important to them.  At the same time, you should not allow children to make decisions that might harm themselves or others.  Choices must always be between acceptable alternatives. For example, you can invite your child to choose between wearing a green shirt or a blue shirt, having vegetable soup or tomato soup for lunch, or picking up blocks or puzzles first.  In these cases, either choice the child makes is a good one.  Experience and confidence from making small decisions, will help children be able to make bigger decisions as an older child. Alternatively, a choice should not be given regarding holding your hand while walking down the street or standing in the buggy in the grocery store.  If there are no other safe options or choices, this is when an adult can say, "This is not a choice, I want you to be safe so you have to hold my hand."  If a child is given enough opportunity throughout the day to make logical, safe choices, then engaging in a power struggle over non-choices will begin to happen less.  Everything does not need to be a choice, as children will not always make the wisest decision.  Sometimes you can compromise, but it has to be on your terms, not your child's terms.  Giving in or changing your mind often will be confusing to a young child and gives them power, not the illusion of power.


The teachers at UCDC are very consistent and creative about when they offer choices to children.  They always think ahead about the outcome of offering the choice.  This helps guide them in either making a decision for a child or offering a choice.  Helping children to learn to make decisions and choices can be challenging, but experience and the support of an adult will provide the foundation that children need for future success.  


UCDC Reads by Infant One
Moo, Baa, La La La! By Sandra Boynton

This is one of our favorite books in Infant One.  It is simple and silly all in one.  The children like to make the animal sounds and point to the pictures as we turn the pages.  It talks about the different sounds animals make and then it asks what sound you make.  When we read it and we get to the end, we pause to see what the children will say, sometimes they repeat an animal sound or they make up their own noise.  It is one we read over and over and over again.


Spotlight on Staff
Ciara Miller, Substitute Teacher
A substitute teacher's job is not an easy one. A substitute has to be extremely flexible with strong classroom management skills. She also has to get to know four different age groups, twelve different classroom routines, and 160 different children and families. This is no easy task! 

This month, we are highlighting Ciara Miller, one of our substitute teachers at UCDC. She started with us as a student, and was later hired as a very valued staff member. Take some time to get to know her better by perusing her interview.

If you were an animal, what kind of animal would you be?

I would probably be a cat. Since I'm full of energy and curious about things, but I also really enjoy time to myself and of course napping!


What is the last book that you read?

The last book I read was The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson.


If you could be a superhero, what would you want your superpowers to be?

Probably to stop time, since I could use it while fighting crime as well as I could use it to get all of my work done during the week!


If Hollywood made a movie about your life, whom would you like to see play the lead role as you?

Jennifer Lawrence, I really like her because of how genuine she is.


Which is the one television character that you simply adore?

Walter White. I'm so sad Breaking Bad is over.


What did you have for breakfast this morning?

Chobani peach greek yogurt and OJ.


What would you do if you had a time machine?

Tough question but I would use it to spend more time with my grandparents who passed away last year. I didn't really get to spend as much time I wanted to with them while I was finishing up school.


What was your most recent traveling experience?

Tennessee to see my sister and nieces. I love Nashville.


If you won $20 million in the lottery, what would you do with the money?

Pay off my student loans!! But then of course take care of my family and donate to others in need.


What's your first memory of UCDC?

I have so many great memories, but my very first memory was when I met Virginia who used to be head teacher in Infant 2. I remember thinking, "Oh jeez, this is going to be interesting" because she was so outgoing and pushed me to do things when I was unsure of myself or nervous. But I would have to say she turned out to be one of the biggest positive influences from the first day I started working at UCDC.