Inquiring Minds

January 2019

The School for Young Children at The University of Saint Joseph

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From the Director, Sue O'Donnell

Happy New Year! The first half of the school year has certainly gone by quickly!

SYC uses the CT Early Learning Standards (CTELDS) as a guide for good practice and curriculum development. During the past two years the Office of Early Childhood has been developing an assessment tool to support the CTELDS. On our January 2 Professional Development Day SYC staff had our first training on the CT Documentation and Observation for Teaching System (CT DOTS) tool. During the next few months teaching staff will begin utilizing the tool as they plan curriculum, assess children’s skills and have conversations about children’s development with families. A second training will occur on our next Professional Development Day in June.

An important feature of the CT DOTS is strengthening the collaborative relationship between teaching staff and families in relation to children’s developing skills. During the next few months we will be revising the family information sheet that is sent to families prior to children’s first day of school. At the next PAC meeting on January 9, I will ask for family feedback on what additional information should be contained on this form. Please plan to come to this meeting to share your thoughts and ideas.

We will also be revising our conference report sheet for the upcoming school year. The form will continue to share important narrative information about your child’s strengths and growth. Teaching staff will create a plan for next steps in learning and development, but we will also include a section to articulate a collaborative plan between home and school.

The staff at School for Young Children value reflective practices that allow them to grow, develop and strengthen their ability to serve children and families. We appreciate your input and support in this process!

Winter Coat Drive

Thank you to all who donated coats to our Winter Coat Drive. We dropped off 40 coats to be cleaned and distributed!

PAC Meeting

Wednesday, Jan. 9th, 7-8pm

SYC Conference Room

Martin Luther King Jr Day

Monday, Jan. 21st, 7:45am-5:30pm


Preschool is CLOSED

Backpack is OPEN

Family Conference Day

Tuesday, Jan. 22nd, 7:45am


Family conferences will take place in classrooms. Please look for sign- up times in your child's classroom.

There will be no Backpack or Preschool.

SYC Car Magnets for Sale!!

Would you like to to buy an SYC car magnet? We have some in the office for $5 each!

Show your SYC pride and get a car magnet!!

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Coming Up: Dates to know...

  • Feb 18-19: Winter Break: Backpack OPEN, Preschool CLOSED
  • Feb 23: Open House for Prospective Families: 10-11:30am

PJ Day for the Kids!

SYC participated in CCMC's PJ Day for the Kids on Dec 14th. Staff and children wore their PJs to school and raised funds for Connecticut Children's Medical Center. We raised $252.70

Way to go and thanks to all who participated and made donations!!

Five Ways to Nurture Compassion in Kids

There are many stories about people who have made a difference that come from individuals or groups that have experienced hardship as they strive to overcome those hardships. For your child, this might be what inspires them to action, but it doesn’t have to be. Everyone has the potential to make a difference in their own way. Some children and adults feel comfortable raising their voices in a loud way, while others prefer a quieter approach.

Making a difference might mean speaking up or taking action when you see an injustice, doing something to take care of the environment, letting someone know that you care about them, or playing an active role in your community in other ways.

By exposing your child to many different role models in real life and in stories, you can show your child examples of the many ways people can make a difference.

Learning about others through stories can help children learn about what is possible and give them opportunities to practice thinking about other people’s feelings and learn words and actions they can use as they reach beyond themselves.

Teaching your child compassion is also an opportunity for you to grow as well, as you strive to be the role model you would like your child to have. AS you continue to have conversations with your child aimed at building compassion, consider the following strategies:

1. Use words that you would like to hear your child use now and in the future. As you choose the words you say to your child and to others, imagine how you would feel hearing those same words from your child. Taking a moment to consider how the words you use would sound in your child’s can help you be intentional with your own word choices and help you choose to think and speak with compassion.

2. Live each conversation beyond your words. Do more than have conversations about being compassionate with your child, look for ways to act compassionately at home and in your community. Explain to your child what you are doing and why so that your child hears what you are thinking and brings a compassionate perspective to their own thought process.

3. Look for role models and examples of compassion in your own community. Seek out examples of individuals and groups in your community that are working to make your community a better place. Point these activities out to your child and talk to them about the needs and challenges faced by your community as well as what others are doing to be helpers.

4. Recognize that building compassion takes time. Just like any set of skills, building compassion takes time and lots of practice. You may feel discouraged at times when you see your own child acting out or struggling to think about someone else’s feelings, but this is normal. Developing compassion is a lifelong process that is easier for some people than others, and one that is challenging for everyone.

5. Learn from your child along the way. As you and your child find your voices together, take time to listen to and learn from one another. You may be surprised by the insights your child offers. Your child might think about other people’s feelings in ways that you may not consider. When you learn something new from your child, let them know that. With all the ways they learn from you, they will love hearing that you learn from them, too!

Shauna Tominey, PhD, is an Assistant Professor of Practice and Parenting Education Specialist at Oregon State University. She currently serves as the Principal Investigator for the Oregon Parenting Education Collaborative, an initiative to provide high-quality parenting education. Previously, Dr. Tominey served as the Director of Early Childhood Programming and Teacher Education at the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence.

School is back in session and we are all very busy at SYC!! Happy 2019!

Off To Kindergarten!

West Hartford Public Schools will be holding a Kindergarten information night.

January 28, 2019


Town Hall

50 South Main Street

email RSVP to:

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We play outside every day during the cold weather. Please make sure to send your child to school each day with:

  • a warm coat
  • a hat
  • a pair (or two) of gloves or mittens
  • snow boots
  • a snowsuit or snowpants

After snow has melted, our playground can still be muddy enough to require snow clothes. Please take winter gear home each day and return it to school the next day. Children can carry snow clothing to and from school in their SYC reusable bag. Make sure to LABEL everything with your child's name in order to prevent lost items.

Afternoon Backpack Families:

Please send in an extra set of labeled mittens for the afternoon, as mittens used in the morning tend to be too wet for reuse in the afternoon.



Happy New Year and welcome back to school!

Thank you to everyone who donated to the coat drive, we had a great response! Donations were taken to French’s cleaners and then distributed to those in need in our community. A special thank you to Sue and Deidre for organizing the coat drive.

Placemats were delivered before the winter break! A huge thank you goes out to Kate Pascucci and Amy Bieniek for organizing this project and making it a success, as well as all the parent volunteers who created these masterpieces. The placemats all turned out amazing and we are all looking forward to enjoying them at our dinner tables.

Spirit Wear orders were delivered before winter break. We hope you and your children are enjoying your new SYC wear!

Upcoming events to keep an eye out for:

  • On January 21st, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, preschool will be closed. Backpack will be open.

  • Family Conference Day is on Tuesday, January 22nd. The Staff Appreciation Committee will be providing healthy snacks to keep the teachers energized for the day! We are looking for volunteers to bake, setup and cleanup. Please see the PAC bulletin board to sign up to help with this event.

  • On Family Conference Day, preschool and backpack will be closed. We are planning a meet up for SYC families at Kidcity Children’s Museum in Middletown. Be on the lookout for more details in your email, and on the PAC board.

Mark your calendars for this year’s Spring Fundraiser/Auction, which will be held on Saturday, April 27th at SYC! It is our biggest fundraiser of the year and a fun night out for parents. It is a parent-planned and parent-run event so please consider volunteering to help make it another successful year! Sign up sheets and more information will be provided in the upcoming months on the PAC bulletin board as well as via email.

Our next PAC meeting will take place on Wednesday, January 9th at 7:00pm in the SYC Resource Room. We will begin planning for the Spring Fundraiser, and discuss other upcoming projects and events at SYC. Please join us to find out ways to help make this year a success!

Please continue to check out the PAC bulletin board and check your email for updates and volunteer opportunities! Do not hesitate to contact or stop us in the hall at any time with any questions.

Melissa Bowman & Stephanie Dominello- Pac Co-Chairs

Smile...It's Paul Cryan Time! (Save the Date)

Paul Cryan Photography will be here on Feb 4th, 5th, and 6th, 9:30am-12:30pm

A class list will be posted for you to see when your child's photo is happening.

Also, PAC will be posting a sign up sheet on the PAC board for parent volunteers to help during the photo shoots.

Great by 8

Great by 8 is a community based early childhood collaborative. Meetings are held at Charter Oak International Academy. Consider attending this months meeting to hear about how the West Hartford community is working to ensure that all children and families are supported.
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The School for Young Children at The University of Saint Joseph

Sue O'Donnell, Director