August 2015
University Child 
Development Center

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

Director's Corner

Where does your child spend their day?  Do they spend it in daycare? Or do they spend it in an early childhood program, child development center, childcare center, preschool or school?  This often proves to be an interesting question and one that sparks much debate among parents, teachers and child care providers.
Many (including myself) struggle with the term "daycare," as it implies that the teachers just take care of the day. But we know that the work that the highly qualified individuals do is to genuinely care for the child as a whole human being with thoughts, feelings, needs, and the ability to learn, no matter their age. It is sometimes implied that the work that our teachers do is not as important as the work that takes place when children go to a more formal school setting.  Child care professionals care for children, so we should call the work that they do "child care" or even better "early childhood education." The level of education, experience and expertise that is required to care for AND teach children so that they can succeed later in life, at UCDC is significant. UCDC has made a commitment to hire teachers that have degrees in Child Development, Early Childhood Education, Family Studies, Psychology or Elementary Education.  The teachers are experienced, dedicated, educated and true professionals in their chosen field of work.  They did not come by this profession by chance nor do they babysit.  They are trained individuals who worked hard to earn a degree so that they could provide excellent high quality care and education for your children.  
For many people, "daycare," unlike the term "preschool," conjures up visions of children warehoused all day in an uninviting, unsupportive environment. This stereotype has been fostered by the unevenness in quality of the early childhood care that is available. Unfortunately, there are terrible child care programs like this, but the best of them provide care that serves the child and the family far beyond the "day" and well into the rest of the family's life.

Statistically, it has been documented that during the earliest years of a child's life, brain cells make connections that lay the foundation for all future learning. These pathways must be maintained, through repetition and consistency, in order for the connections to be preserved.  What is learned when the windows are wide open to the appropriate stimulation will most likely be learned adeptly and for a lifetime.
When you observe an infant or a three-year-old playing, you immediately see the learning that is happening as her brain cells make the connections necessary for growth and development. As an infant discovers her hands or a rattle, she uses all her senses to learn everything about that object. The three-year-old stacking blocks or building a puzzle uses eye-hand coordination and past experiences to accomplish the task. 

Early childhood educators who have observed young children know that the early years are sensitive periods for young learners.  "While learning continues throughout the life cycle, there are 'prime times' for optimal development - ­periods during which the brain is particularly efficient at specific types of learning." (Shore, 1997).  Because of their knowledge base, teachers understand how important the things they do at UCDC are.  Planning activities, meeting early learning standards, challenging children, providing pre-literacy and emergent math skills activities, cooking, social studies, science, language development, emotional support, and physical activities are all a part of your child's day.  Factor in not only meeting basic needs but always doing more than would be expected and that is quite a busy day for teachers.  Do they "just play" with kids all day? Absolutely not.   Are they babysitters?  Absolutely not.  Their commitment and dedication and education, goes far beyond the ordinary and is in fact quite extraordinary when you sit down and really think about it. 
Curriculum in the Classroom
Planting in Preschool Two

When spring arrives, the children in Preschool Two become abuzz with all things gardening. To further encourage this interest, children are given opportunities to plant in our school garden and to plant their own seeds. Not only do these plants beautify our classroom, they also allow for natural opportunities in STEM development. As we sow and watch the seeds grow, math concepts are explored by the children. I recently planned a grass-growing activity which explored grass grown with sun and water, with sun and no water, and with water and no sun. I thought this would be the most interesting part; however, the kids had a different idea. Rather than focusing on the fact that the plant with no water did not grow at all, they got right to work sorting the grass based on height. And that is just fine with us! Bring on the ruler; it's time to compare! 


As children begin the planting process, we discuss science principles, such as "what do plants need to survive?" Planting with children is a hands-on way to approach the concept of taking care of the earth. In addition to feeding hungry bees and producing our own food, children reuse materials as part of the planting experience. Children rinse out used milk cartons after lunch and sort through broken CDs to save the cases. This year, we planted garden beans in reused CD cases. The children delighted in both caring for their own bean and watching as their peers' plants grew so large that they crept out of the top of the case. Most recently, to everyone's surprise and enjoyment, a bean sprouted! The first child's reaction: "Can I eat it?!" 

School Choice - Community Day School


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 


Community Day School is a nurturing, academically excellent Jewish day school for the 21st century. We inspire our students to love learning through innovative teaching and hands-on discovery. CDS is a welcoming community where Pittsburgh families who span the spectrum of Jewish belief and practice can learn and connect along with their children. As our students grow in knowledge, they grow as people-finding their passions, embracing their Jewish identities, and preparing for successful and meaningful lives. CDS is now accepting kindergarten applications for the 2016-2017 academic year. Contact Admission Director Sarah DeWitt at 412-521-1100 or to schedule a campus visit. Learn more at


Spotlight on Staff

This month, we were curious to find out more about what our teachers and staff love to eat. So we posed the question...


"If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?"


  • Pepperoni and Mushroom pizza from Bud Murphy's in my hometown of Connellsville, PA. It's absolutely the best! - Shelley Martin, Infant Three
  • BBQ ribs with mashed potatoes and carrots. - Jen DeJulio, Preschool Three
  • I love to eat so my meal would be:  soup, salad, well done prime rib, baked sweet potato, mixed vegetables, rolls, milk, and chocolate ice cream. - Maureen Sahr, Toddler Two
  • Peanut butter!  It's not a full meal, but I could eat it at every meal!  Because I can't eat it for breakfast during the week, it's an extra special treat to have peanut butter toast, peanut butter smoothies, or peanut butter waffles for breakfast on the weekends! - Katie Anglin, Infant Four
  • Since I just got back from vacation, if I could eat only one meal for the rest of my life it would be fresh Maryland crab meat with mashed potatoes and fresh corn on the cob:) - Cathy Baier, Preschool Three
  • If I could only eat one meal for the rest of my life I would have to choose pasta with red sauce, a salad and Italian bread. That's one meal that I've enjoyed all my life and I still enjoy it every time. - Michelle Mattys, Preschool Four
  • Pasta and my mom's meatballs! - Emily Marsh, Infant Two
  • Hands down, spaghetti!!!  Yes, I'm Italian so I need a good salad and bread to go with it!!!!  -Joy Tomasic, Toddler Two  


Monthly Family Gathering - The Water Steps
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.

This month, we are suggesting that families meet at the Water Steps on Sunday, August 16th at 1:00 pm. The Water Steps at the North Shore Riverfront Park are built of large sandstone blocks that are of varying heights starting from street level and going toward the river. The water flows down the fountain and collects at different levels in shallow pools. When it's hot, children and adults are welcome to wade in the pools of water. The water steps are free and it's a beautiful Pittsburgh attraction for families of young children. If you plan on attending, don't forget to bring bathing suits, towels, and lots of sunscreen!


UCDC Philosophy Explained: NAEYC Accreditation
By Jamie Wincovitch, Education Coordinator

I have heard that NAEYC Accreditation is a high mark of quality, but what benefits does it provide the families of the child care center?


UCDC is accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) which is one of the highest marks of quality that a child care center can achieve. The teachers and administration must prove this quality through very detailed portfolios as well as observations from the Academy. According to the Academy, a NAEYC Accredited Center must...

  • Promote positive relationships for all children and adults to encourage each child's sense of individual worth.
  • Implement a curriculum that fosters all areas of child development: cognitive, emotional, language, physical, and social.
  • Use developmentally, culturally, and linguistically appropriate and effective teaching approaches.
  • Provide ongoing assessments of each child's learning and development and communicate the child's progress to the family.
  • Promote the nutrition and health of children and protect children and staff from illness and injury.
  • Employ and support a teaching staff that has the educational qualifications, knowledge, and professional commitment necessary to promote children's learning and development and to support families' diverse interests and needs.
  • Establish and maintain collaborative relationships with each child's family.
  • Establish relationships with and use the resources of the community to support achievement of program goals.
  • Provide a safe and healthy physical environment.
  • Implement strong personnel, fiscal, and program management policies so that all children, families, and staff have high-quality experiences (

Clearly, the abovementioned points benefit families greatly as it provides the highest quality of care for the child and family. Read more here about the ten NAEYC program standards and the signs of quality in an early childhood setting.

Did You Know?


Did you know that our preschool classrooms each have a Samsung tablet to be used in the classroom to supplement the curriculum? The children see it as a resource to experiment with photography, further investigative studies, "see" things that can't be seen in the classroom, and investigate meaningful questions. At this young age, we use technology as a "tool" rather than a "toy." 


Preschool Wisdoms

This month, we decided to ask a highly emotional question to the children in Preschool Three. Read on to hear what love feels like to these young preschoolers.

  • "It feels great! It feels like Mom and Dad love me." - Anna
  • "Hugging my Mommy and Daddy" - Finn
  • "A hug from someone special." - Lena
  • "My Mommy and my Daddy and my baby and my Babja." - Adonis
  • "My baby and my momma and my sister and myself. My mom gives me hugs." - Jerry
  • "My mom hugs me and my mom kisses me. There's five in my family - Mom, Dad, Finny, me and Trouty." - Leo
  • "My Mommy and Daddy" - Lily
  • "New cars from Target." - Cole
  • "Playing with my Mommy and Mama" - Violet
  • "My brother and I call him George and I am Peppa Pig." - Kelly
  • "Kisses" - Stella
  • "My Mommy and Daddy play with me with the trains." - Francesco
  • "Sleeping with my Mommy and Daddy and cuddling." - Krishna
  • "My Mommy and Daddy and Chipmunk" - Remy
  • "My two cousins" - Fiona
  • "Mommy's hugs" - Kate