School for Young Children

Inquiring Minds November 2019

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From the Director, Sue O'Donnell

During the upcoming months people often think of ways to demonstrate acts of kindness within the community. At School for Young Children we look for opportunities to help children understand how to help others in different ways throughout the whole year. Many of our service projects are related to hunger and clothing. Through children’s own life experiences, they can understand the concept of what it is like to feel hungry, be cold or need dry, warm clothing.

A collection basket will be placed in the entry foyer for our annual coat drive. Please consider donating gently worn children or adult size winter coats. We will bring our donations to French Cleaners and they will launder them before sending them to local community organizations.

We will also be creating a Tree of Kindness on the PAC bulletin board. One of our SYC families works for the Salvation Army and asked if we might consider partnering with them for their upcoming drive. We will be sponsoring a family with seven children who has endured some hardship during the past year. Leaves will be posted on the tree with the family’s “wish” and basic clothing items. Please consider taking a leaf and including your child in the shopping process to select the item you’ve chosen to buy and donate.

During the winter we will connect with a service project sponsored by the Unitarian Church on Fern Street. They have a program that sends children home with a backpack filled with food items on Fridays for the weekend. SYC will collect food and children will be involved in filling backpacks.

Children are observing our actions and listening to our conversation with others all the time. Helping children understand the importance of reaching out to others and spreading kindness is something we can articulate with them each day. Simple gestures such a making a meal for an elderly neighbor, or thanking the person who bags your groceries are perfect learning opportunities that impact children’s understanding of sharing kindness. What seems like small actions actually have a huge impact on children and others.

Please feel free to share any organizations that might benefit from the kindness the SYC community may have to offer!!

Family Fun Night

Friday, Nov. 8th, 6:30-7:30pm

University of Saint Joseph Mercy Hall First Floor Crystal Room

Cristina Perriello, room 5 parent and West Hartford educator, will be hosting a Family Fun Night for SYC families. Join us for a family evening of mindfulness and movement focused on promoting a sense of calm, gratitude, and connection with your family members. Through interactive read aloud, yoga, and movement you will play with your child and focus on working together. You’ll also learn a bedtime yoga sequence and browse some favorite picture books that you might want to check out at a local library. Please dress comfortably!

Signs will be posted for parking in the lot near The Gengras Center. Sue and Deidre will be outside to guide your way!

Thanksgiving Holiday Closing

Preschool and Backpack will be closed on November 28th and 29th in observance of Thanksgiving.

Enjoy the break!

PAC Meeting

Tuesday, Dec. 3rd, 7-8pm

SYC Conference Room

Please join us for our PAC meeting in the conference room. All are welcome!

CCMC PJ Day for the Kids: Dec 13

For a $1 or more donation, SYC staff and children can wear their PJS to school on Friday December 13th. All donations will go to CCMC to benefit the Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders. Each classroom will have a donation container.

Kids at CCMC have to wear their PJs all we will wear ours to support them!

Holiday Break

Monday, Dec. 23rd, 7:45am to Thursday, Jan. 2nd 2020 at 5:30pm


All programs and offices at SYC will be closed for the holiday break, Dec 23, 2019-Jan 1, 2020.

We will also be closed January 2, 2020 for a Staff Development Day.

All programs and offices will re-open January 3, 2020 at 7:45AM.

Classroom Candids!

Ready or Not Kindergarten, Here We Come!

Sammy was a bit of a late bloomer. Maria, his mother, spent a lot of time helping him with the kindergarten readiness activities, but she wasn’t sure if he was really prepared. The morning of the first day of school was a whirlwind for the family. Maria dropped Sammy off with a kiss, then made her way to work, where she worried about him off and on all day.

While many of us focus on the basics of letter and number recognition or reading skills, kindergarten readiness encompasses more than a few isolated skills. We need to look at the whole child and all the skills and strengths each child has developed. That’s what makes them unique. As an example, Sasha may love books and have exceptional reading abilities, but she struggles with shyness that prevents her from engaging with other children. Joshua might be very strong socially but still has difficulty holding and using a pencil correctly. Emma can do both these things, but she can be very silly and wiggly and gets distracted in group settings. Despite these differences, all of these children are ready for school.

Here are some tips to help you prepare your child for Kindergarten:

  • Help him to develop independence at home. Encourage your child to dress himself, take his coat on and off and hang it up, use the bathroom without assistance and wash his hands without constant reminders, and put on his own shoes. Provide serving spoons so your child can serve himself at the table and clear his own dishes. These skills will take him from the coatroom to the lunchroom and beyond.
  • Focus on self-help skills. Your child should know how to wipe her face after lunch without prompting and blow her nose without assistance. But be sure she is also comfortable asking an adult for help when necessary.
  • Teach responsibility. Start transferring small responsibilities over to your child, if you haven’t already. After a family trip to the pool, you might put your child in charge of emptying the backpack, refilling the water bottles, or hanging up his wet swimsuit. Even when it may be easier for you to complete these tasks, let him accept the responsibility.
  • Develop and follow routines. Set up morning routines that will transfer into a school setting. Getting up around the same time every day, getting dressed, and having an early breakfast together is a great way to transition to school.
  • Read aloud to your child. Get your child a library card, take her to the library to check out books, and be sure to read to your child every day. Read a variety of books, read the captions under pictures in the newspaper, even share the comics. Just read!
  • Engage her in meaningful literacy activities. Encourage your child to help you with thank you cards, shopping lists, or notes. They may start with scribbles or pictures, move into scattered letters, and finally some recognizable words as they enter school. Appreciate their attempts and watch their skills develop with practice.
  • Acknowledge his feelings. Avoid talking about school too much, or wait until the end of summer is near. Your child may express being nervous, not wanting to go or, alternately, feeling very excited to start school. Whatever they feel, take time to appreciate where they are.

Rather than worry about whether your child is ready to read and write, think about his or her skills as a whole. What can they do well that will help them succeed? The quiet child who has reading abilities will find her way to the social butterfly that needs help writing his name. The silly, wiggly child will find a spot as the classroom helper. Rest assured, they will all navigate kindergarten together.

Tracy Galuski is an associate professor and mentor at Empire State College where she shares her experiences as a mother, teacher, and child care administrator with her early childhood students. She teaches online courses in child development and classroom environments.

Flu Vaccines

Please hand in your child's flu shot paperwork to the office as soon as possible. This is a requirement from the State of Ct. Documentation of the flu vaccine or Medical or Religious Exemption must be received by Dec 20, 2019 or your child will not be able to return to school for the duration of Flu Season, January 3, 2020-March 31, 2020.

Please see the main office if you need another form or have any questions.

Thank you for your cooperation.

Message from PAC

The kids had an amazing time at this year’s Fall Festival! A huge thank you to Catherine Ribeiro, Sarah Dolan, and Erin Sullivan for chairing and organizing the festival this year - your hard work did not go unnoticed, and the children had a blast. A special thank you to all the parents, teachers, staff and student workers who volunteered and made the event such a success!

The Fall Fundraiser of Lyman Orchard Pies was a huge success, raising over $1,500! Many thanks to all the families who placed orders! The pies will be delivered and ready for pick up in the morning on Monday, November 25. Please keep an eye out for volunteer opportunities on this morning, and for details about pick up as the date approaches. Thank you to Amy Bieniek for organizing our pie sales!

The first Family Fun Night of the year will be on Friday, November 8th on the USJ campus. Enjoy a fun night with the whole family and your SYC friends in your PJs! Thank you to Cristina Perriello, a Room 5 parent and West Hartford teacher, for running this event for us!

Also this month, we are getting the annual placemats project underway, which will be ready in mid-December. These placemats are a really nice keepsakes for the children, and feature pictures of your child’s classmates and teachers. Example placemats are posted on the PAC board. Kate Pascucci (Room 5) and Sarah Colonese (Room 2) have graciously offered to co-chair this project/fundraiser. If anyone else is interested in helping out, please let Kate or Sarah know. Thank you to those who have already volunteered to help! Be on the lookout for order forms in your child’s picture pocket in the next couple of weeks.

Be sure to mark your calendar for our upcoming PAC meeting on Tuesday, December 3rd at 7pm. This is a great opportunity to get updates from our SYC director, get the inside scoop on what PAC has planned, and let us know what you’d like to see at SYC! Please continue to check out the PAC bulletin board for updates and volunteer opportunities, and keep an eye out for our emails. Feel free to reach out anytime with any questions.

-- Stephanie Dominello & Kelley Pellegatto, PAC Co-Chairs

Emergency Closings

In the event of inclement weather or a non-weather-related emergency, the School for Young Children closing/delayed opening announcement will be sent out on the USJ emergency alert system. We recommend that you sign up for text message and/or email alerts from SYC. Please visit

If you signed up last year for the alert system, please check that your are still signed up and edit any contact changes as necessary.

School may close for non-weather-related emergencies (power outages, no water, etc) so be prepared!


Please consult the following TV stations or their websites for closing or delayed opening announcements:

NBC 30 TV or

WFSB Channel 3 TV or

We are listed as Sch. For Young Children and/or School for Young Children, West Hartford

Please be advised that when school is delayed, all schedules are delayed. For example, in the case of a one-hour delay, Backpack will open at 8:45AM and Preschool will begin at 10:00AM

Backpack News

Just a few reminders for Backpack families:

  • If a different person is picking up your child, please check to see if he/she is on your pick up list and let the office or your child's teacher know the name of the person. Also, remind the person to bring an ID.
  • When picking up your child from outside, please securely lock the gate using all of the locking pieces. If you need help, please call to a teacher to show you how to lock the gate.
  • Also, before taking your child from outside or inside, please be sure he/she has cleaned up the bikes or toys that he/she was using.

Thank you for helping to keep the children safe and for encouraging them to assist in cleaning up!


Priority enrollment for the 2020-2021 school year runs until Friday November 8th.

Priority enrollment allows current and past SYC families as well as employees of the University of Saint Joseph to apply for the following school year before enrollment opens to the general public on Monday November 11th. There is no application fee for currently enrolled children, however, there is an application fee of $50 for siblings of currently enrolled children.

Please get your applications in as soon as possible!

What's Ahead?

  • January 1, 2020: SYC Closed, NO Backpack and Preschool: New Years Day

  • January 2, 2020: SYC Closed, NO Backpack and Preschool: Staff Development Day

  • January 8 , 2020: PAC Meeting 7-8pm

  • January 20, 2020: Martin Luther King, Jr Day: Backpack OPEN, NO Preschool

  • January 21, 2020: Family Conference Day: Preschool and Backpack CLOSED