March 2017
Director's Corner

Have you ever experienced a significant change in your routine, day or your life?  No matter how organized or "scheduled" you may be, there are those times that something big or different happens and the "normal" that you knew might become a new normal.   Moving to a new house or a new city, getting a new job, welcoming a new baby in the house (maybe even two), hosting relatives visiting, going to a new doctor, experiencing a death, etc.  There are so many variables in our lives that it's often hard to plan for and manage the many changes that could take place.

As adults, we are equipped to understand and manage change. We might not like it but we are much more capable of coping and asking questions to understand what the changes will mean. We are able to refer to old experiences and use those experiences to put the new one into perspective. We are able to use our skills and strengths to manage the emotional and cognitive strain that the changes might create.  We use the information that we need to manage the event in a positive and pro-active way.  In other words, we have the developmental capabilities to manage the impact of the event.

Now, take a moment to think about changes, monumental events, or even small events as they relate to the children in your life. I imagine that it is quite possibly a long list. A move to a new house or something as small as new shoes can make the morning routine more challenging. Your children don't have the skills, coping mechanisms or experience to deal with change as well as adults may.

Here are some things that you can do and a few things to remember when your family or child is faced with a change:

  • Do not talk about it too much.  Too much information is overwhelming and while adults need and can understand a lot of information, children typically only need to know the basics. Answer the questions that they ask (and no more) or explain to them what is relevant in that moment. Over informing a child doesn't help as much as it might help an adult. It can actually cause more stress and anxiety in some instances.  You want to prepare a child and be honest, but try to maintain a balance of how much you share.
  • Telling children about an event that is not actually going to take place for a long time can be counterproductive.  For example, if you tell your child about their new house months before you are actually going to move, your child may feel overwhelmed or anxious about it for months, which will cause all of you more stress.    
  • Maintain routines and rituals and try not to add another change, no matter how small until your child has had time to adjust to the first one. Routines are important so that children can maintain some control, which is especially important to toddlers and preschoolers.
Change itself can come quickly or slowly, but adjusting to the new state of things takes time. Make sure you give yourself and your children the luxury of having time to adjust. Don't expect too much too soon.  Some changes are easy to adapt to and some aren't.  Some children adapt quickly and some children don't. There may be tears and tantrums, changes in sleep patterns and eating habits, so be prepared and be patient.  Children will eventually adjust and move forward, adapting to the change. 

Curriculum in the Classroom
Toddler Two

Our environment is made up of shapes and in Toddler Two, the children have been exploring these concepts. The children became interested at lunch one day when the teachers were identifying the shape of the plates (circle) and napkins (square). After we identified these common shapes, one of the teachers folded the napkins into triangles and rectangles to show them how shapes are actually made of other shapes. The children also experimented with folding their own napkins. By folding the napkins, the children are learning that they can affect their environment and control their motions to execute this task.

In response to this interest, we introduced magnetic shapes on the door and larger floor shapes that our children can identify, match and/or combine into new shapes. Through play, the children discovered that two triangles can make a parallelogram or a square. With a teacher's close guidance, they also found out that one square and two triangles can combine to make a trapezoid. Immediately following this discovery, we showed the children how to put two trapezoids together to make a hexagon.

We have also gone on shape hunts in our classroom and the children found a lot of triangles. They discovered them everywhere - in the block area, as pieces of our climber, as the pulls on the drawers in the dramatic play area and many more.

Finally, as part of this investigation, we introduced a set of geometric solids to the children. The children were able to identify the triangles in the tetrahedron and the squares in the cube. We also showed the children an interpenetrated tetrahedron, which is made out of card stock. The children respected this fragile object and everyone learned how to handle it carefully and gently while exploring it.

In order to reinforce the home-to-school connection, you could have a shape hunt at home. You may be surprised at how many shapes your children can find in your own environment! 

Happy hunting!
Good Eats

Pineapple Banana Smoothie 

This simple recipe was submitted by Preschool Four. They made this and the children absolutely LOVED it! What a great way to get more fresh fruit in your child's diet.

Serves 3-4
1/2 Fresh Pineapple
2 Large Bananas
2 cups juice (pineapple, apple, or whatever you have handy)
Ice as you prefer

Blend together the ingredients until you reach the consistency you prefer. Enjoy!
Spotlight on Staff

This month, we wanted to know how the people that care for your children were as children themselves. So we asked, "How would you describe yourself as a child?"

  • Messy - Julie Brennan, Preschool Three
  • Just one word??? I'd have to say talkative! I think this is why I don't like to talk now. I did it all as a child.  - Tiffany Robinson, Infant Two
  • Shy - Jamie Wincovitch, Education Coordinator
  • If you ask my mother she would say "chatty." If you ask my siblings they would say "destructive" because I was too afraid to speak up for myself so instead I would break their toys when I was mad or upset with them. - Ammie Ribarchak, Preschool One
UCDC Art Gallery

Sewing with Preschoolers (Preschool 1)
Name Art (Preschool Three)
Footprint Art (Infant Three)
Saran Wrap Painting (Infant Two)

  • On March 22nd, UCDC will be hosting a visit from the Dental School. The students from the University will visit the preschool classrooms during the morning of March 22nd to teach the children about dental hygiene, good foods for teeth and when to expect when visiting a dentist. This visit is always a popular one for our preschoolers!
  • This month, we will also be finishing up speech and language screenings for the preschoolers. Most of the screenings were completed in February, but there is one make up day scheduled for this month. 
UCDC Philosophy Explained

Talking to Your Preschooler about School

Sometimes it's hard to get more than one or two words out of your preschooler about their day at UCDC. You know they spent over eight hours here but when you ask how their day was, all you get is "good." Trust me, they have LOTS to share, but aren't proficient in summarizing just yet. When an adult is asked about their day, it's easy for them to focus on highlights, summarize major events and decide on an adjective that feel like a best fit. That's no easy task for a preschooler so they typically tell you "good" or "fun" or some other short and non-detailed answer.

If you want more from your child than a one-word summary, change up your questions. Instead of "How was your day?" try some of these:

  • What was fun today?
  • What was the worst part of your day?
  • Who did you play with?
  • Who did you sit next to at lunch?
  • What book did your teacher read to the group?
  • Who was your partner on the walk?
Any specific question works and from there your child will hopefully get rolling. This type of dialogue will help you to learn so much about their day and their relationships with others.

"I'm really good at making cookies."
- Whitman
Preschool Wisdoms

This month we asked the children of Preschool Two to let us know what they feel that they do well. It looks like they have a really talented crew!

Building - Austin
Making art - Finn
Building Legos - Daniel
Running - Jasper
Skateboarding - Jules
Ballet class because I practice a lot - Kate
I'm really good at running. - Krishna
Reading - Lena
Drawing pictures - Lily
Swimming - London
When I grow big, I'm good at driving trains. - Nolan
I can ride a blue two-wheeler. - Owen
Beading - Sophie
Riding bikes! - Shay
Art - Violet
I'm good at making cookies. - Whitman
Doing 'knock knock' jokes - Jack
I'm really good at drawing. - Sam
Writing, art and stapling stuff - Jacob
Our Philosophy

Markers on Hands 7.11
UCDC utilizes a child centered, extended family approach that is fostered by supporting the developmental needs of all children. We foster children's self esteem, creative abilities, sense of belonging and success by implementing a developmentally appropriate curriculum based on NAEYC and Keystone STARS standards, through a play-based approach to learning. We support families and partner with them to provide an environment that welcomes their collaboration and supports both cultural and family preferences.

University Child Development Center | University of Pittsburgh
412.383.2100 |