April 2016
University Child 
Development Center

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

Director's Corner


Creating a wonderful facility and child care program for families and children is a very complex endeavor.  There are so many things to take into consideration; materials, environment, outdoor space, programming, nutrition, safety, development and learning and individual needs.  These are just some of the things that distinguish one facility from another, and the list could go on and on.  One of the conversations that we often have is; what is the actual facility or program the children attend and what exactly does that imply?  The following article was written by Tiffany Robinson, one of our amazing teachers, and the article expresses what most of us feel and believe.

Despite the millions of people who must use child care outside the home, for many people, "day care," 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 that exist, 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 and 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 plan and implement 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, social skills, 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 (but enjoyable) 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. 
I couldn't have said it better!

Mary Beth 
Curriculum in the Classroom: Exploring Science
Infant One

Children are natural scientists.  They love exploring their environment using their senses and experimenting to figure out how the world works around them.  Doing lots of hands on activities helps the children to use their five senses to gain knowledge about the world around them.

In Infant One, the children have become very interested in playing with the soap and water while washing their hands. Because of this new interest, we opened up our sensory table and we decided to fill it partially with water. To engage in their interests, we added dish soap to the water. They had so much fun splashing to make more bubbles, scooping up the bubbles in cups and pouring the water back into the table.  We came up with multiple activities to do with the children so we could explore this new fascination. For the first activity, we brought out scoopers. The children were engaging their gross motor skills by filling the scoopers and dumping them back into the water to create more bubbles. For the second activity, they took plates from the kitchen area and the children pretended to wash them. When the children wanted to play with the soap and water a third time, they brought over the toy animals and put them in the water. Seeing they had an interest in the animals in the water we talked about the different animals that live in the water. 

The children love using their senses to explore. By opening up the sensory table this allowed the children to explore their interests and learn about the world. They were learning about wet versus dry, cold water versus warm water, and aquatic animals. The children were in charge of what they were learning. Their one interest in soap and water peaked many other interests they could explore using their senses.
School Choice


Choosing a school for your child in Pittsburgh can a daunting task. There are so many different options in the Pittsburgh area, which makes us fortunate, but it can be overwhelming.


If you are in the Pittsburgh Public School system, there are so many different schools and it can be confusing. A place to start would be finding out your child's home school based on your home address using this tool. From here, you can explore your child's home school and begin to make decisions about the educational path you choose for your family, whether it be public or private. 


Spotlight on Staff

This month, we were curious to hear how our teachers would spend their days if money was no object...

  • If money were no object I'd do all the things I'm not able to do often now. Like pamper myself and friends. Hair, manicures, pedicures, massages, and shopping. I'd also would want to somehow help those that are less fortunate. But the bulk of my time would be spent doing NOTHING!!!! - Tiffany Robinson, Infant Two
  • If I had many days, I would travel to places I've never been. If I had only one day, I would probably go out to eat for every meal, pay off my student loans, and get some new tattoos :) - Emily Marsh, Preschool Two
  • If money was unlimited, I would like to spend most of my day buying what I thought my family and friends needed and wanted.  Then, sending money to charities that I support.  The rest of the day, I would enjoy with everything that I would want:  great food/drink and environment.  Did you notice that work was not mentioned?  -Maureen Sahr, Toddler Two
  •  I would travel to all the places I have wanted to see and also do volunteer work with children's' charities. -Cathy Baier, Preschool Three
  • If money were no object, I would open my own coffee shop that serves coffee every way it can be made--coffee press, drip, percolated, espresso machine, Turkish coffee, etc.  I'd educate others (and myself) about the different ways to prepare it and the countries from which different varieties come.  I'd be so much better than Starbucks because I'd charge a cheap price just to get people in and interested, and they could all hang out and talk to each other (no free Wi-Fi, learn the art of conversation!) and it would be a little community of really wide-awake people! - Shelley Martin, Infant Three

In and Around Pittsburgh: 
Blue Slide Park

The weather is starting to warm and for children, that means more time outdoors! There are so many parks and playgrounds in the Pittsburgh area to explore. 

One of the favorites of a lot of the families at UCDC is Blue Slide Park. This playground is unique due to it's hillside slide made out of cement. Make sure you bring a cardboard box to slide on when you visit! Frick Park at Blue Slide Playground is located near the corner of Beechwood Boulevard and English Lane. 

News to Know
  • On Thursday April 7th, we will be hosting 5 Educators from Beijing and the NOBO - No Boundaries School, an international preschool education research institution.  The Children's School at CMU will be hosting the group for two weeks and we are joining 4 other local schools and centers in hosting the group for the day.  They will do a tour of UCDC and observe in classrooms while they are here in the morning and afternoon.  We will be joining two faculty members from the School of Education for lunch and  when we return,  the educators will spend time with our teachers for dialogue and a Q and A.  There will be two Directors, the head of the NOBO School, and two educational researchers and supervisors in the group.   We are very excited to welcome them to Pittsburgh and to UCDC and look forward to sharing our vision of Early Childhood Education as well as learning about their school and programs.
  • Don't forget to hand in your plant orders! This is one of our biggest fund raisers and the proceeds from this sale allow us to purchase creative materials for the Center. Please consider buying and please ask your family and neighbors as well. The plants are always top quality! 
  • A safety reminder - If you take a short cut through the Byzantine Church parking lot to get to Clyde Street PLEASE pull out of that lot slowly and carefully every time.  Our children walk down Clyde Street and turn into that lot and it can be quite dangerous if drivers are not alert to people on the sidewalk due to the placement of the shrubbery on the corner.  The classrooms also walk through the lot daily so if you go through the lot please reduce your speed especially if you see any of our groups walking through.  I have asked the teachers to make sure they are diligent regarding the traffic when walking that way, but we do appreciate your consideration if you use the lot.

Nutrition Update: 
Iron Deficiency
By Amanda Maiello
 Iron deficiency is the most common nutritional deficiency and the leading cause of anemia in the United States. Young children and women who are pregnant or breast-feeding are considered high-risk populations for this nutritional deficiency. To help you and your children prevent iron deficiency, eat a healthy balanced diet. Some of the best dietary sources of iron are animal proteins. Some of the best plant sources of iron are beans, dark green leafy vegetables, fortified breakfast cereals, enriched rice and whole grain and enriched breads. Although you absorb less iron in plants, combining vegetarian sources of iron with vitamin C in the same meal will enhance iron absorption! 

Did You Know?

Did you know that we're getting closer to our new lunch menu? Our student intern, Amanda Maeillo, has been working hard to create a child-friendly, healthy, and diverse menu for UCDC these past two semesters and the choices are looking delicious! We spent a lot of time working on this as we took into consideration parental wishes, children's choices and teacher's feedback. Balance this with cost, logistics of receiving catered lunches and feeding the diverse needs of children of very different developmental abilities. Quite a daunting task, but we're looking forward to the outcome in the next few months! 

Preschool Wisdoms


With the hot topic of the presidential election happening in our adult world, we thought it might be interesting to ask our preschoolers a relevant question. Who knows, after reading their answers, you may have a different choice for the upcoming election!


We asked the little ones in Preschool Two...


If you were president, what rule would you make for our country?


  • Never go out when there is a fire without a grown-up. - Raelyn
  • Never push or shove other people. - Kelly
  • Learn their ABC's - Leo
  • Make sure everyone is safe. - Violet
  • Make sure your friends get safe. - Didi
  • Don't tell lies about me. - Cormac
  • That people don't get hurt. - Vikram
  • When you get hurt, you have to have a Band-Aid. - Fianna
  • Be respectful to people's drawings. - Francesco
  • Be respectful of people's hearts. - Annika
  • Hold hands all the time. - Finn
  • Never cross the street when there's a car. - Krishna
  • Never go into anyone's lane. - Zoe


The University Child Development Center | 635 Clyde Street | Pittsburgh | PA | 15260