July 2015
University Child 
Development Center

635 Clyde Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15260
(P) 412.383.2100
(F) 412.383.2120

Director's Corner


Being a parent is probably one of the most rewarding and most difficult jobs one can do.  Family time is precious and children need love, attention and supervision.  As children get older, talking and listening become valuable tools to understand and support your child.  If you take the time to talk and listen when children are younger, hopefully as children get older and venture out into the world more,  they will still want to share and talk to you about their day, their friends, and their life.  Keeping a strong connection to your child will help to ensure that they know they are loved and that you will be there to help keep them safe and teach them to take care of themselves and make good choices.


Close families take time to talk with and listen to each other.  This means giving your child your full attention when talking together.  Go to a quiet place.  Get down, eye-to-eye as you talk to them. Turn off the television, music, and electronics.  Spend the first few minutes at home after work and school together talking, laughing and playing rather than checking messages, the mail or doing other tasks. 


Ask about your child's day at school.  Often a parent will ask "What did you do today?" and receive the typical answer, "Nothing."  Ask your child questions such as, "What story did you read today?" or "Tell me what you built with the blocks."  When your child shows you a painting or something they made, ask them to tell you how they made it.


Cut down on television time. Take walks together, play games, do art, and read stories together.  Time spent in the car to and from school is a good time to chat and talk.  Tell family stories.  Children like to hear about what you did when you were little and they also like to hear what you remember about them when they were babies.   Children also love to look at pictures. Pulling out photo albums from when you were little or from when they were little will encourage lots of great conversations. 


Ask your child lots of open questions and ask their opinion about things.  "Tell me about your picture," "What else can you do with the playdough?" "What could you use to make the tower stand up?"  "What do you think would happen if_______?" "Is there another way to_____?"  It can be difficult to change the closed-end question habit, but when we ask open-ended questions, children reap great benefits as they think through their responses to express what they want to say.  And with their answers, we find out more about what they think and feel.  In explaining or describing, children also use language more fully, which also allows you to use new vocabulary and words with them as you engage in conversations.


Children also learn a lot when adults talk to them in the course of daily activities such as cooking, bathing and doing chores.  Riding in the car or on a bus, or when pushing the shopping cart are opportunities for parents to comment on what they see along the way.  When you plan a family outing or special event, talk about it with your child beforehand and afterward.  Anticipating and recalling experiences not only promote children's language development but also increase their knowledge and understanding.


We all know that the time that we have with our children is precious and goes by very quickly, but family times are important times.  This time spent with them, talking and listening build family memories for the years to come.  Make the most of that time when you are with them and enjoy the special moments. 



Mary Beth

Curriculum in the Classroom
Painting with Infant Two

One very important aspect of our philosophy of art education at UCDC is to present the children with open-ended activities that are more process based and less product based. 


For this experience, different colored paints and different types of brushes were placed on the table for the children. For the children that are just beginning to learn to hold things in their hands, we placed the paint on the table and let them explore the paint and then touch the box.


 After a while, the older children discovered that painting the table also made a design and they were just as excited with this as they were when they were painting the box. By what we thought was the end of the activity our entire table was covered with beautiful colors and our box was painted masterfully by the children of Infant Two. But this was not the end of the activity for the children. Typically, the children want to help us clean the tables and the floors. Today was no different. As the tables were being cleaned by a teacher the children were given rags to "help." Through the process of this activity the children were strengthening their fine and gross motor skills. They also created a science activity because the mixing of the paints creating new colors. Reasoning skills were also present as they asked themselves -  "What will happen if I use this particular brush or if I use my fingertips in the paint?" Every activity, whether big or small, is a learning opportunity for children. These skills they are learning through painting and play are skills that when correctly nurtured give the child the foundation of skills and confidence needed in each stage of life.


School Choice: Sacred Heart


Navigating the number of school choices that are available in the Pittsburgh area for your child can be a daunting task. There are so many private, magnet, and charter school choices out there. In our newsletter, we plan to highlight one school a month in order to help inform families. UCDC does not endorse the schools that are highlighted in this section - we are only offering the vast choices that are available. A great resource for finding options is the website - Great Schools 


As a Catholic school, Sacred Heart's primary purpose is the formation of the intellect within the context of faith as taught by the Catholic Church. As part of this spiritual mission, students attend mass regularly, have daily religion class, and are involved in service to the community and the world.


Academically, students study a rigorous curriculum that serves them well wherever they go after Sacred Heart. They learn early on to be responsible for themselves and keep track of their own work and assignments. Organizational skills and time management are emphasized, in part through use of planners provided to each student from second grade on. In class, both cooperative learning and independent learning are utilized. Teachers also individualize instruction through small-group work and other activities. Hands-on learning is important at all levels. All students take classes in music, library skills, art, and physical education. All levels also participate in service learning opportunities, participating in community service projects as part of a larger lesson on the importance of service to others. 

Spotlight on Staff


This month, we were curious to hear why our teachers love their job here at UCDC so we asked the question - What is your favorite thing about your career?

  • Favorite thing is the relationships with children and families and making a difference in the lives of others. - Cathy Baier, Preschool Three 
  • My favorite thing about my career choice is watching and supporting children as well as families develop, grow and learn together each and every day. - Joanne Stiller, Infant Four 
  •  Getting hugs - Jennifer Pezzula, Morning Subsitute
  • I love working with such amazing teachers, interacting with and hiring students from the University, and being able to take a break from it all at any given moment and get a hug from a child.  - Jamie Wincovitch, Education Coordinator
  • It's very hard to name just one thing! The students are my favorite part of being a teacher:) Their unconditional love, sweet smiles and love for learning make each day significant! - Michelle Mattys, Preschool Four
  • My favorite thing about my career is making children smile and greeting them at the door with thumb kisses and hugs. - Kathy Slater, Toddler Three


Monthly Family Gathering: Mellon Park

Each month, UCDC picks a family friendly location for families to meet and spend time together. UCDC teachers or staff may or may not attend, but this is a time for families to get to know each other and explore the city. UCDC will not host the event, but will just suggest a date, time, and location for families to spend time together.

On Saturday, July 18th at 11:00 am, we are suggesting that families meet at Mellon Park in Shadyside for a play date. This park has a playground, tennis courts, baseball field and sprinkler as well as some picnic tables. So plan to meet some UCDC families at Mellon Park on the intersection of Beechwood Boulevard and Fifth Avenue. Don't forget to bring sunscreen, snacks/lunch, and bathing suits (or at least a change of clothes)!


News to Know
  • 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. 
  • This is the time of year when the oldest children start to leave UCDC for their next step in life. Quite an emotional time for children, teachers, and families. After leaving UCDC, families will no longer receive the email updates or newsletters. Although, if you're still interested in receiving the UCDC Weekend Events, please let the office know and we will add you to our alumni list so that you can continue to receive these emails.
UCDC Philosophy Explained
By Jamie Wincovitch, Education Coordinator


Parent Question: I see tons of artwork at UCDC but my child never has anything to bring home. Why? 


Answer: UCDC offers a variety of outlets for creative expression through typical art materials as mentioned but also through block play, dramatic play, music and movement, as well as many other areas. The goals that are met through art experiences include freedom of expression, fine and gross motor skills, eye-hand coordination, social skills, problem solving, and the skills involved in math, science, language, and reading comprehension. Fortunately, these skills are also addressed as children build in the block area, participate in group time activities, play outside, and during many other experiences at UCDC.


At UCDC, we provide individualized programming for every child and therefore we do not require children to rotate through the various classroom learning areas. Instead, we provide well rounded programming in the entire classroom and children can freely rotate to each area as their interests grow and change. Although, if there is a child that has a very strong interest in blocks and that is where she spends an inordinate amount of her time, the teachers may promote pre-literacy skills by suggesting that she make a sign for her block tower or the teacher may simply add writing utensils to the block area and invite the child to incorporate these into her play. These simple gestures will encourage her to develop new and different skills in an area where she already finds comfort and feels safe.


Even though a child may never pick up a paint brush or crayon, rest assured that they are exploring creativity in other ways at UCDC. Creativity is tested as they design block creations, create play themes, dictate stories to teachers, or make a mud pie on the playground. There are many outlets for this expression and our teachers work hard to create experiences for the diverse set of learners at UCDC.

Did You Know?


Did you know that we have a basket of "take home" crackers in the office if your child needs a cracker to help with the commute home? Routine is very important for a young child (since they can't tell time conventionally with a clock, they tell time with the order of events). The children look forward to their afternoon "take home cracker" and the office staff equally loves this time to personally connect with each child. So don't forget to stop by the cracker basket at the end of your day! 


Preschool Wisdoms

This month, we decided to ask the four and five-year-olds in Preschool Two a worldly question. They were asked...


How would you change the world if you could?

  • The houses would be made of ice cream. 
  • A house was made of all lights. 
  • Giant flowers on everyone's house. 
  • It wouldn't be so cold in the winter. 
    "I want to change it to a big race car city." 
  • Sometimes me and Sydney pick up trash.
  • What if the world was one big house? 
  • If the whole world was bouncy and squishy. 
  • If the world was made of pancakes. 
  • What if the world was made of trampoline floors? 
  • A world covered in race tracks. 
  • My back yard is made of colors. 
  • If the world was full of books. 
  • I would change my world with race cars. It's all race cars racing. 
  • Make everything look like baked ziti. 
  • There would be mostly roller coasters.
  • With ice cream!