December 2015
University Child 
Development Center

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

Director's Corner


It's hard to believe that 2015 is quickly coming to an end and the New Year is right around the corner.  It always amazes me how quickly time goes once September arrives.  We welcome so many new families into the Center and transitions are happening within UCDC. During this time, children are growing and reaching new milestones. Before you know it, everyone is eagerly anticipating our long break, where we get to relax, regroup and hopefully spend time with our loved ones doing fun things!

This year has been quite busy at UCDC.  Not only have we welcomed many new families and children, we have also welcomed many new teachers and staff.  Elise, Jennifer, Shiloh, Rose, Skyy, Samantha, Sabrina, Michelle, Aimee, Carli and Jocelyn!  That is quite a lot of new faces and I'm pleased to say that everyone is settling in quite nicely, each bringing new and exciting things to the program.  Recruiting is always a challenge, as we want to find the perfect fit for the classroom and the Center each time we have to do it.  Here's hoping the New Year brings stability and consistency and less recruiting!

Over the past year we have had three successful Professional Development Days.  These days typically offer a variety of trainings, activities, and experiences for the staff and teachers.  As a Keystone STARS facility, each teacher is required to have 24 hours of training annually while employed at the Center.  Not only is it important that we maintain those hours, it is equally important that we continue to grow as educators, leaders, and caregivers.  Time to learn and reflect is a big part of the work that we do each day and it encourages growth as an individual and as a professional.  During our Professional Development Days we have talked about our philosophy, curriculum and practices while sorting out some of our policies and procedures so that everyone is on the same page.  We worked with a few different organizations and welcomed speakers who talked about language development, culture, food and nutrition. One very memorable speaker was Junlei Li, who discussed the importance of daily interactions with young children.  During these Professional Development Days, we also worked on team building activities and discussed process oriented art and positive discipline as it relates to our philosophy.  We remembered to have fun throughout all of this learning by playing team building games on the playground in August.  In November, we began our plans to execute a new strategic plan for the Center, having initial conversations and discussions which will carry over into our March Professional Development Day.   The level of participation and enthusiasm from the staff on these days is inspirational and confirms the ongoing commitment to excellence and growth that has historically always been a part of UCDC. 

UCDC was also successful this year in maintaining our NAEYC Accreditation status, had a very successful Department of Human Services inspections (perfect child and staff records and two minor environmental issues, which were addressed immediately), and we are currently waiting for a Keystone STARS re-designation visit. 

Currently, we are participating in the annual PITT winter clothing drive (hats, gloves, socks can be donated in the lobby), we completed renovations in our building and had a successful growing season with our gardening. We hosted over 100 student visits and we will once again host the Early Childhood students from Duksung University in Korea.  Four year old classrooms once again visited Chancellor Gallagher's residence to take hand-made pieces of art to put on his tree.  It was a fun visit!

We are looking forward to a very productive New Year at UCDC and hope to increase our parent participation and center-wide activities as a part of our strategic plan.  We are currently working on new menu ideas thanks to your online survey responses.  We will keep you posted on those initiatives.

As the year comes to a close, we wish you all a peaceful and joyful new year. Please remember that less is more for very young children and scheduling your activities and visits with their needs in mind is important during the holiday season. Keeping to schedules as much as possible minimizes melt-downs and tears.  Open ended toys and materials that promote creativity and exploration make the best gifts (keep the boxes for extra fun), and spending quiet time with close family is an important time to refuel and reconnect during what is typically a very busy and hectic time.

All the best to each of you and thank you for sharing your children with us! 

Mary Beth
Curriculum in the Classroom
Toddler One

"Each child went around the room looking for an item that was smaller than the leaf and one item that was larger than the leaf.
It's that beautiful time of year again, autumn.  As much as the adults enjoy the changing colors of the trees and the brisk fall air, our toddlers enjoy the many sights of the season as well. Sparked by the interest of the crunching beneath our shoes and the falling of the leaves on the playground, Lindsay was also inspired by an extra-large yellow leaf found by her car. This was the beginning of a child directed, exploratory, learning activity.
We first examined the leaf and discussed its traits; color, size, texture and scent. As a group, we decided that the leaf was yellow and brown, as well as bumpy and soft, and after smelling the leaf, it was said to of smelled like "pumpkin!" The children decided that the size was big, very big! This again sparked the perfect opportunity to compare the size of the large leaf to items the children use in the classroom. Each child went around the room looking for an item that was smaller than the leaf and one item that was larger than the leaf. A younger child found an item that was smaller than the leaf, but struggled with finding an item that was larger. Since we have older, very helpful children in the room, an older child assisted the younger child on the search for a larger item in which they were successful.
Through this simple, child inspired activity, the children were given the opportunity to be creative, inventive, and flexible in their thinking. They were also able to help one another when assistance was needed, which is very much encouraged in our toddler classroom.

School Choice
Glen Montessori 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 

The Glen Montessori School is located in the North Hills of Pittsburgh and it goes from 8 weeks old - grade 6!  In classrooms at The Glen you see children of different ages working at their own pace with materials they have chosen. The teachers blend in to the buzz of quiet activity as they take time to assess the children through regular observation. Teachers also make time to present new lessons to children who demonstrate readiness and spend one-on-one time supporting children who need a hand. The teacher's aim is to encourage hands-on, self-directed learning and that accommodates individual mastery and small group collaboration within the classroom community.

Looking for the Perfect Holiday Gift?
UCDC Cookbook

Embroidered Beach Towels
UCDC has beach towels and cookbooks for sale! These two items are fundraisers for our Center and would make the perfect gifts for your loved ones and family. The beach towels and cookbooks are only $15.00  each. Please stop by the front office for your towel or a copy of our cookbook!


UCDC Philosophy Explained

 What discipline model is used at UCDC?


holding hands

Positive Discipline is the discipline model that we use at UCDC that focuses on positive behavior. This model helps children to understand how to handle situations more appropriately in a calm and respectful manner. The use of positive discipline helps in the development of a conscience and helps children to develop self control. The model is rooted in secure, connected relationships with adults.


Positive discipline holds certain premises that all focus on the positive aspects of a child's behavior. During our most recent Professional Development Day, the teachers were guided through a series of these ideals and were asked to come up with several examples of how these were practiced in the classroom. Some of these include...

  • Treat children as you want to be treated.
  • Use distraction and substitution to guide behavior.
  • Understand the unmet need.
  • Treat every child as an individual. 
  • Create a "yes" environment.
The most important aspect of this model of discipline is rooted in the fact that discipline builds relationships, not damages them. At UCDC, the teachers work to create connected relationships with every child in order to best meet their needs and assist them in this important aspect of their social development.



Did You Know?


Did you know that UCDC has a Center library? It is located on the lower level of our building across from Toddler Four. Families are welcome to check out books with their children. Just stop by the front desk after your library visit and we will sign the book(s) out for you and your family.


Preschool Wisdoms


This month, we asked the four and five year-olds in Preschool Four this stumping question...


What was the hardest thing you ever had to learn?

  • Alice: My artwork. I draw very fast and tricky pictures.
  • Zoey: When I'm in Chinese school I learned a word that I didn't know.
  • Sasha: Playing laser tag. You need to point the laser.
  • Jack: Learning to read.
  • Ruby: Getting dressed. Learning to put on long sleeves and zippers.
  • Tumaris: Piano class on my home day. I just write some E F G words.
  • Adonis: Learning to be a good boy.
  • Maeve: Trying to tie my daddy's shoelace.
    "My artwork. I draw very fast and tricky pictures." - Alice
  • Ben: Reading
  • Kate: To fold towels
  • Rishi: Playing the violin
  • Fiona: Building
  • Joe: How to pump on swings
  • Christopher: Draw a human
  • Finn: Playing with my brother without fighting.
  • Wilder: Making a castle that my brother knocked over.
  • Hazel: My sissy taught me to do Rainbow Looms and my mom taught me to whistle.
  • Sam: Learning not to do dangerous things like babies do.