School for Young Children

Inquiring Minds October 2019

A monthly newsletter from the School for Young Children at The University of Saint Joseph

From our Director Sue O'Donnell


During the preschool years, children are developing foundational social skills they will build upon, develop and modify throughout their life. When children enter elementary school having the ability to attend to a task independently with focused attention and communicate their needs and emotions with peers and adults are examples of important social skills.

During the past six years teaching staff at School for Young Children have been utilizing RULER, a curriculum for emotional intelligence developed by the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence. RULER is an acronym for Recognizing, Understanding, Labeling, Expressing and Regulating emotions. Children are learning the different concepts within RULER during every aspect of their day at school and home. Teachers are beginning to integrate the Mood Meter into daily classroom routines. At the beginning of the day children place themselves on the mood meter in relation to how they are feeling. Each quadrant signifies a different feeling, Red-Angry, Blue-Sad, Green-Calm and Yellow-Happy. The emotions they are feeling at that moment are accepted by adults in the classroom. If a child signs into the Red quadrant, the teaching staff may talk to the child about why they are feeling that way and also offer strategies and suggestions to move into a more peaceful state. Children often move their picture into different spots during the morning based on how they are feeling after a specific activity or incident. This type of awareness is a critical factor in children’s understanding of their own emotions as well as others around them.

Teachers support children’s understanding of how language is connected to different emotions with intentionally planned book reading sessions and individual/group conversations. RULER strategies and the mood meter are also utilized during conflict resolution with peers. Children are encouraged to identify their own feelings as well as those demonstrated by their peers. During the beginning stages of this process, teachers facilitate conflict resolution by asking questions and sharing words to use. Learning how to get along with others and appreciate their unique qualities allows children to deepen their understanding of how to navigate themselves in their world.

I’m working to schedule an evening workshop for families with someone from the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence. I will keep families posted when a date is set.

PAC Meeting

Wednesday, Oct. 2nd, 7-8pm

SYC Conference Room

All are welcome!

Indigenous Peoples Day

Monday, Oct. 14th, 7:45am-5:30pm

School For Young Children

No Preschool classes in session

BackPack WILL be open. Please let Backpack staff know if your child will be attending on Indigenous Peoples Day, Oct 14th

Priority Enrollment Begins

Tuesday, Oct. 15th, 7:45am

School For Young Children

Priority enrollment for current families, returning families and USJ employees for the 2020-2021 school year begins Oct 15, 2019 and ends Nov 8, 2019.

Priority enrollment allows current and past SYC families as well employees of the University of Saint Joseph to apply for the next school year before enrollment opens to the general public on Monday November 11, 2019. Applications will be placed in your child's picture pocket shortly before Tuesday October 15th. Please return your completed application by Friday November 8th.

There is no application fee required for children returning for a second year. After November 8th, all applications will be counted as Open Enrollment.

If you know of anyone who might be interested in coming for a tour, please have them call the office for tour dates or check the SYC website,

Open House for Prospective Families

Saturday, Oct. 26th, 10-11:30am

238 Steele Road

West Hartford, CT

SYC will be open for prospective families to see our program, check out the classrooms and outdoor space, and talk with staff. Please share with anyone who might be interested.

Fall Festival!

Fall Festival will take place outside, weather permitting. In case of inclement weather, the Festival will happen in the gym. This is a time for parents, grandparents, guardians, etc, to join children in participating in Fall Festival events such as pumpkin decorating, face painting and other fall related activities.

Please plan on joining your child's classroom during their Fall Festival time slot. If you are able, please consider volunteering to help at the Festival before or after your child's classroom time. Check out the PAC board for volunteer opportunities and time slots.

Thursday, October 17th:

Room 3--9:30-10:10

Room 1--10:15-10:55

Room 5--11:00-11:40

Friday, October 18th:

Room 2--9:30-10:10

Room 4--10:15-10:55

Room 6--11:00-11:40

Room 7--11:45-12:25

Family Conference Week

Monday, Oct. 21st, 7:45am to Friday, Oct. 25th, 5:30pm

School For Young Children

Families will have an opportunity to meet with teaching staff this week. Teachers will be reaching out to families with schedules and sign up times. We strongly encourage you to participate in this opportunity to share information about your family and child with your child's teachers.
Big picture

Healthy, Fit Families!

Children need to move their bodies and eat healthy foods. Families can promote healthy habits by encouraging children to eat nutritious foods and get some exercise every day. Here are some suggestions.

  • Follow the nutrition guidelines for children under 6. Information on nutritious foods, portion sizes, and sample menus for planning snacks and meals are available free through the USDA.

  • Eat meals together. You’ll know what your child is eating, you can model appropriate choices and portion sizes, and you'll have fun talking and spending time as a family.

  • Steer your child toward healthier choices at fast food restaurants. Look for salads, sliced apples, baby carrots, and low-fat milk in colorful containers.

  • Offer fun, healthy snacks. Ants on a log (celery sticks with peanut butter or cream cheese topped with raisins), sliced fresh fruit on a skewer, or raw vegetables and low-fat yogurt dip are favorites of many young children.

  • Teach your child to listen to his or her stomach. When children do this, they’ll learn to know when they have had enough to eat. It takes 15 to 20 minutes after eating to know if you’re really hungry for seconds.

  • Plan a taste-testing event. Family members can taste and vote on new, healthy foods—veggie burgers, baby spinach, whole wheat pasta, kiwis, and the like. Then make the favorites part of your regular menu.

  • Give hugs and kisses—not food—for comfort and encouragement. This simple action helps children associate eating healthy foods with taking care of themselves. They are likely to grow up to be adults who avoid using food as a reward or a way to cope with stress.

  • Limit your children’s screen time. Instead of watching television or playing on the computer, spend time together—go for a run, kick a ball around, ride bikes (or trikes), or take a nature hike.

  • Walk instead of driving to nearby places. Leave the stroller at home. Park a few blocks from the store and walk the rest of the way. Get off the bus a stop or two away from your destination and walk the remainder.

Source: Adapted from the Message in a Backpack for L. Colker, 2008, "Trends in Children's Well-Being," News from the Field, Teaching Young Children 1 (4): 20–21.

Audience: Family

Age: Infant/Toddler, Kindergarten, Preschool

Classroom Candids!

Babysitter List!!

The babysitter list is available in the main office. The list is comprised of current SYC student workers from USJ. The list is intended for SYC families only. Please do not share names and contact information.

Thank you!!

University Student Workers @ SYC!

University Student Workers support our programs in various ways. Sometimes they are integrated into the classroom setting and interact and play with the children. At other times, teachers may assign tasks to the student ranging from cleaning and set up to making playdough and laminating classroom signs. We are fortunate to have USJ students working with us at SYC!


Kelvin Canton is a Sophomore from East Hartford, CT, class of 2022. He is majoring in Child Study with a minor in Math. Kelvin is a member of the Men's soccer team at USJ. In his spare time, he is a referee for youth soccer and he enjoys spending time with his family. Please introduce yourself to Kelvin and our other wonderful student workers.

Big picture

Music Classes at SYC!

Hello SYC Families,

My name is Michelle Russell, the owner of Musical Moments Music Therapy Services and a Board-Certified Music Therapist. Over the past 18 years, I have had the pleasure of working with individuals from as young as 6 weeks old up to 107 years young!

I am excited to offer early childhood music classes for the students at The School for Young Children this school year. Early childhood is an amazing time of growth and development. I look forward to working again this year with returning students as well as getting to know the new students!

I will unite movement, instrument play, and singing at each session. During each class, your children will explore sound, creativity and cooperative play. We will learn to work as a group and have fun while we do it. I look forward to sharing the joy of making music with your children here at The School for Young Children.

Michelle Russell MA, MT-BC

Big picture

PAC News

Thank you for a great start to the year with a fun family picnic. Although we had to move the picnic to the rain date, it was a beautiful evening and was very well attended.

Our first PAC meeting is scheduled for October 2nd at 7pm in the conference room. We will be discussing upcoming events and volunteer opportunities, and brainstorming new ideas. It is a great way to get involved and be a part of the SYC community. We would love to see new parents and get some fresh ideas to make the upcoming year the best yet.

Our Fall Fundraiser featuring Lyman Orchard Pies will begin the first of October, and the pies will be delivered just in time for Thanksgiving! Ordering information will be placed in your child’s cubby. Pie sales raise funds for PAC events throughout the year, so please do what you can to support the cause!

Our Fall Festival is only a couple weeks away! This family-favorite event will take place during the school day on Thursday, October 17th for rooms 3, 1 and 5 and Friday, October 18th for rooms 2, 4, 6 and 7. We will need many volunteers to help run the festival so please check out the sign up sheet on the PAC bulletin board. This is an extraordinary event filled with pumpkin decorating, face painting, fall activities and lots of play! If your child is scheduled for a day they do not attend school, you are welcome to bring them in to join their class. Siblings are welcome as well!

There are lots of other upcoming events/fundraising opportunities to keep your eye out for, such as our annual Placemat Project, our winter service project, family fun night at the beginning of November, and more! Stay tuned for more information on how you can help. The PAC bulletin board, located outside the office, is our primary method of communication. Please check it every so often for information on upcoming events and to sign up to volunteer. We hope everyone will find a way to be involved!

We are looking forward to a wonderful year with our SYC community!

Stephanie Dominello & Kelley Pellegatto , PAC Co-Chairs

Yoga Classes at SYC!

Hello parents! My name is Becca Barnard and I am a certified 200-hour yoga instructor who specializes in children’s yoga.

My training began in 2008 when I completed the Next Generation Yoga teacher certification program with Jodi Komitor. Following that I completed the 200-hour teacher training at West Hartford Yoga. Subsequently, I attended the Yoga for the Special Child teacher training with Sonia Sumar. After that training, I ran yoga classes for children who were on the Autism Spectrum.

During the past 10 years I have taught and continue to teach WHY Kids yoga at West Hartford Yoga, as well as worked with local educators to bring yoga into the schools.

In 2017-2018 I taught Mommy and Me yoga classes at CCMC and Hartford Public Library through WHY Outreach, Inc.

Over the course of the school year, your child will learn new breathing techniques (“pranyama”), yoga poses (“asana”) and creative movements, followed by deep relaxation (“savasana”) and meditation. Each class will incorporate a theme such as “What is Yoga?,” “Attitude is Gratitude,” and “Toe Yoga,” to name a few.

Big picture


All children enrolled at SYC are required by the State of CT Department of Public Health to have an influenza vaccination between 7/1/19 and 12/31/19 unless they are religiously or medically exempt. Please return the flu vaccine form that was put in your child's picture pocket as proof of immunization or bring in a signed note from your child's pediatrician, to the main office.

Please note, Medical Exemption forms need to have a doctor's documentation supporting the exemption.

Religious exemption forms are required to be notarized.

Both medical and religious exemption forms can be found in the main office.

Please keep in mind that your child will not be able to attend school after Dec 31, 2019 if we do not receive proof of flu vaccination or medical/religious exemption forms. All forms are to be returned to the main office. Please call (860) 231-5560 or stop by the office with any questions

What's Ahead?

  • Friday Nov.8 : Family Fun Night
  • Friday Nov. 8: Priority Enrollment for 2020-2021 ends
  • Monday Nov. 11: Open Enrollment for 2020-2021 begins
  • Nov. 28 & 29: SYC closed for Thanksgiving Break: NO Preschool or Backpack in session
Big picture


Our SPECIAL ( Seniors & Preschoolers Engaging In All Learning) volunteer readers have started! Each class has a reader come in weekly or bi-weekly to spend time reading to the children and interacting and chatting! We are fortunate to have this "SPECIAL" program at SYC. If you know of anyone who might be interested in being a SPECIAL volunteer, please have them contact Deidre Horan @ 860.231.5561.

Safe Food Policy

Just a reminder to families with 3 year olds:

In accordance with NAEYC standards staff do not offer children the following foods due to high choking risk:

  • hotdogs (whole or sliced into rounds)
  • whole grapes(please cut grapes sent in lunchboxes)
  • popcorn
  • hard pretzels
  • spoonfuls of peanut butter
  • chunks of raw carrot or meat larger than what can be swallowed whole

This applies to both foods served by SYC as well as foods sent in from home for all 3 year olds. Please help to observe our Safe Food Policy by not sending in the above foods for your three year old.

Thank you.

Some Friendly Reminders...

Teachers and Staff would like to remind families to:

  • Please lock the gate fully on the playground when entering and exiting. Children can push the gate open if it is not properly latched.

  • When using the playground afterschool, 1-1:30pm, please do not use the bikes and riding toys. Helmets are not available for children to use and teachers and children have cleaned up the playground to be ready for children in backpack to use in the afternoon

  • The reserved parking spot is for Ellie D and her family only. They are the winners of the spot from last years auction. Please refrain from parking in this spot.

  • Please remember to shut your engines off in the parking lot. Idling cars is bad for the environment and against the law!
Big picture