December 2016
Director's Corner
Dear Families,

It's hard to believe that another year is coming to an end.  I know that personally, this year went by very quickly.  There were a few hurdles yet plenty of things to be thankful for.  My daughter is doing well in school, we overcame some minor illness and celebrated her milestone 21st birthday.   We spent time with family over the summer and early fall, and got to see relatives that we haven't seen in quite some time.  I'm very grateful for the abundance of wonderful things in my life and try to remember that when things get difficult.

At UCDC, we are once again fully staffed, minus one part-time substitute teacher that should be filled very soon.  We had a busy year with staffing changes, but now all is well.  We enrolled a lot of new families throughout this year and are excited to have them here with us.  Children are thriving and learning and staff are engaged and happy.

We ended the year with our final Professional Development Day in November. This day was planned around the needs of the staff and was intended to be an inspirational and reflective day.  Most of our Professional Development days include trainings that relate to or reflect the needs of children. Throughout these learning opportunities, self-care for parents was always of high priority. With that in mind, we recognized the importance of teachers taking care of themselves (and us taking care of them) so that was our focus this November.  We started the day off with classroom team meetings followed by a whole staff meeting.  Immediately following this, we had a wellness/nutritional coach come in to talk to us about eating and energy, recognizing that it takes a lot of energy to do our best work with the children.  She was quite inspiring and provided great tips about staying healthy (we had a very healthy breakfast and lunch) and being energized. To finish out the day, we broke into three groups and watched three different documentaries; Happy, The Beginning of Life, and The Kids Menu. To end, we spent time reflecting on each of the documentaries and how we related to them as an individual and as a teacher.  As an added bonus, we were able to wrap it up by 3:00, so that staff had a chance to get home and begin their holiday break. 

As a final component to the day, I asked the teachers to answer a few questions that would provide feedback about our day.  One of the things that I asked them to share was what they are grateful for at UCDC.  I thought that some of their responses would be a lovely thing to share with you, as these are the people that your children spend their days with.  I hope that you are as grateful for them as I am.

The UCDC Teacher are Thankful For...

The children and their families * Wonderful kids, parents and coworkers * The great people/families * People always helping when we need it * Respect for the children and families * I am so grateful for the easy going, kind staff * The staff and of course, my toddlers * Great teachers, parents, children and families * The people and how they work to provide what's best for the kids through teamwork * Smiles and hugs from children * The wonderful teachers I work with, everyone is so loving and supportive * Everyone's willingness to help * The very supportive staff here; We work together and help each other when needed * The kids! Families! Staff! Our philosophy! Art supplies! I am grateful that I genuinely smile more every day than I ever thought possible * My awesome co-workers, kids, families * Warm and caring staff * Supportive and caring co-workers who add laughter and smiles to my day * Kindness between co-workers, and staff, children and parents * Grateful to be a part of the UCDC family and the wonderful joyful children I work with * The feeling of community * The staff helping me learn everything about UCDC, it is such a welcoming and friendly environment to work in * Our dedicated and helpful office staff * Resources, materials, play-based philosophy, expression of appreciation from parents and leadership * Our wonderful senses of humor!

Wishing you a warm, relaxing and rejunvinating holiday break,
Mary Beth
"A few children decided several times along the way to 'dump' their bags because they were too heavy. Once the items were 'dumped' they started collecting items again."
Curriculum in the Classroom
Toddler One

Here at UCDC, in the Toddler 1 classroom, the teachers follow the children's interests and abilities when guiding and planning activities. On recent fall walks, the children had wanted to pick up and collect, in their pockets, leaves and acorns along the walk. We talked about how we could collect fall items and what we would do with the items once we collected them. With the teachers support the children decided to collect items on a "fall walk" in small brown paper bags. Each child would carry and collect their items. The children loved stopping along the way to pick up items for their bags. A few children decided several times along the way to "dump" their bags because they were too heavy. Once the items were "dumped" they started collecting items again. After the walk, on the following days, the children decided to paint their leaves with a variety of beautiful colors. They enjoyed these activities immensely! This is just one way that the teacher's guide and focus the children's interests and abilities to create positive hands-on learning experiences.

"On the following days, the children decided to paint their leaves with a variety of beautiful colors!"
As parents, you are the biggest supporters of your children's learning. You too can make sure they have as much time to play as possible during the evenings and weekends to promote cognitive, language, physical, social, and emotional development. Play and learning go hand in hand, they are not separate activities, and they are intertwined. Do you remember your own outdoor experiences as a child building forts, playing outdoors games, taking walks, playing in the park or in the woods, sled riding in the winter, or playing with other children in the neighborhood? Make sure your child or children create awesome outdoor memories too.

Good Eats

Cauliflower and Broccoli Soup 
by Maureen Sahr (Toddler 2)

6 cups of chicken broth
1 head of cauliflower
1 bunch of broccoli heads
1 big onion
1 pound of carrots

Put it all in a pot after cleaning and peeling and let it cook for at least one hour after it boils and you turn down the heat to simmer until the vegetables are done.

Spotlight on Staff

What quality/trait do you admire most in others?
  • If I had to pick one characteristic I admire I'd say "positivity." - Cathy Baier, Preschool Three
  • I admire people who can instantly make you feel at home;  the type of person that is able to engage even strangers and show true interest in their stories, leaving you feeling really good after talking to them! - Shelley Martin, Infant Three
  • The ability to show compassion and kindness to others. - Marlene Schenck, Business Manager
  • I admire people who show empathy for others and those who can see the bright side of things. - Jamie Wincovitch, Education Coordinator
  • The characteristics I most admire most in others are positivity, compassion, and integrity. - Kelly Breit, Infant Two
Lost and Found

Missing anything? Here are some recent additions to our lo st and found here at UCDC. If any are yours, please stop by the front office to pick them up!
Baseball cap
Striped scarf
Fingerless gloves/mittens
UCDC Art Gallery

Highlights from the hallway...

Preschool Hand Stamping
Infant Leaf Painting

Preschool Trees

Welcome to UCDC!

We'd like to welcome Kait Wakefield to Infant Three as the new Associate Teacher. Please read on to learn a little bit more about our new addition to the UCDC family.

"I am so pleased to have joined the staff at UCDC! I have been working with children in some capacity since I was 12 years old when began babysitting, and later teaching swim lessons when I was 15. I attended university in Halifax, Nova Scotia where I earned two degrees; one in history and one in Elementary Education with an endorsement in early childhood. Last year, I worked at Pittsburgh Montessori, and realized that my heart really belongs in an early childhood classroom!   I grew up in the high desert of New Mexico and have traveled the world extensively. My husband, Aaron, and our cat, Findlay, and I found our way to Pittsburgh last year. Aaron is working on his Ph.D, at Duquesne University.  Thank you for the warm welcome I have received from parents and staff, and I couldn't be more thrilled to be part of the UCDC family!"
  • UCDC will be closed for Winter Recess from Friday, December 23rd to Monday, January, 2nd. We will reopen on Tuesday, January 3rd. 
  • Parking Lot Information
    • Sometimes waiting to drop off or pick up your child can be a lengthy exceed ten to fifteen minutes of time in the mornings and evenings. We have asked parents to minimize their time in the classrooms dropping off and picking up their child during these times (especially if there's a line of cars waiting). In the event that you are in the line of cars waiting to enter the parking lot, please be patient. For the safety of all, please follow the one-way pattern of our parking lot using the first entrance to enter and the second one to exit only. This practice will help to keep our parking lot safe for all of the parents and little children that use this space.
    • Also, please be cognizant of your time spent in our parking lot during times of high activity. After you have dropped off your child and gotten into your vehicle, please make sure you that you exit the parking lot quickly. We know that life is busy with young children and once alone, it seems like a perfect time to check your phone.  But please refrain from spending that time in our lot after drop off or pick up since there are so many others waiting.
UCDC Philosophy Explained
By Jamie Wincovitch, Education Coordinator

"Small steps may appear unimpressive, but don't be deceived. They are the means by which perspectives are subtly altered, mountains are gradually scaled, and lives are drastically changed." 

Here at UCDC, there is no pressure to achieve to a standardized mark. Children are taught at their own pace and learn at their own level of readiness. This is evident most clearly in an infant classroom where the babies are all on very different places on the continuum of development but aren't rushed to catch up with their peers or achieve at a different pace. They are also the most determined little people, evident as they attempt to master any skill. Take walking for example; these determined and resilient little beings try over and over and over again to walk only to repetitively fall down over the course of weeks and months! What determination! Think back to the last time you worked so hard at a task and didn't give up (I know I can't recall a time).

Here at UCDC, we praise attempts and efforts and determination. We help the children to take pride in the trying and the "getting there" as opposed to the end goal. We don't rate children by a standard, but work with them from where (and who) they are. 
"Building snowmen" - Finn
Preschool Wisdoms

This month, we asked the four- and five-year-olds a question about their sleep habits. Read on to hear what preschoolers dream about.

  • Going to Disney World for my birthday! - London
  • Princesses - Violet
  • I don't remember - Krishna
  • Fairies and princesses - Lily
  • I don't know - Sophie
  • I dreamed about octopuses and trucks - Owen
  • Building snowmen - Finn
  • Whitman! - Jasper
  • Going on trips - Alex
  • I never sleep because I keep playing with Pikachu! - Whitman
  • Dinosaurs and sharks - Daniel
  • Trucks and cars and dinosaurs - Jacob
  • Frosty the Snowman and gymnastics - Lena
  • Trains! - Nolan
  • Having Pokemon battles and superheroes - Jules

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 |