School for Young Children

Inquiring Minds December 2018

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From the Director: Sue O'Donnell

During November and December there is a great deal of focus on the practice of “giving” to others in need. At School for Young Children we look for opportunities to teach children about acts of kindness towards people they know and people they may not know within our community. During the past month class groups baked cookies for the firefighters that visited our school and made banana bread and a card for Isaura who cleans our school. Preschoolers are still egocentric in their emotional development and these small acts of kindness support their understanding of how to be empathetic towards others.

Many of the service projects we become involved with during the year are associated with food and clothing. Preschool children can understand from first hand experiences how it feels to be cold or hungry. During the next two weeks we will be hosting a coat drive for both children and adults within the Greater Hartford community. This is a good opportunity to include your child in gathering coats that are too small or that you no longer wear to donate. French’s Cleaners will launder the gently used coats before they are distributed within the community.

In February we will collect hats, gloves and mittens for children and adults. There are many soup kitchens and shelters that distribute these items to people on a daily basis throughout the winter months.

If you have ideas for other organizations that SYC might assist, please feel free to contact me. Thanks ahead of time for your contributions!

Coat Drive

SYC will be collecting gently used coats for adults and children. French Cleaners will clean the coats and distribute them to various social service agencies in the Greater Hartford area.

Donation bins will be in the foyer and

will be accepted Dec 3-Dec 18.

Thank you for helping to keep others warm this winter season!

PAC Meeting

Wednesday, Dec. 5th, 7-8pm

SYC Conference Room

Join SYC parents for this month's PAC meeting in the conference room.

Contact information:

PJ Day for the Kids!

Friday, Dec. 14th, 7:45am-5:30pm

SYC Classrooms

Donate a $1 or more and wear your PJS to school! Join SYC teachers and staff as we raise funds to support children at the CT Children's Medical Center. Canisters will be in each classroom. All funds collected will be donated to CCMC to benefit the Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders.

Thank you for your support!

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Pizza Friday

Session 2 of Pizza Friday will begin on Dec 7. The cost of session 2 is $44. Session 3 begins on Mar 1, 2019. The cost of session 3 is $48. You can pay for each session or both sessions now. There is an envelope in the main office.

Questions? Contact Deidre, 860.231.5562


Movie Night was a huge success! Thank you to everyone who attended and brought non-perishable food items. There were over 70 food items donated to the West Hartford food pantry.

The placemat project is wrapping up. A huge thank you goes out to those class volunteers who helped create and design placemats. Stay tuned for delivery information, as we aim to have your placemats distributed in time for holiday break. If you have any questions please contact Kate Pascucci who is graciously heading up this project.

Thank you again to everyone who participated in the Lyman Orchard Pie fundraiser and to the parent volunteers who were there bright and early on pick-up day to help organize and distribute the pies. We hope everyone enjoyed their pies over the holiday.

Be on the lookout for our spirit wear order form in your child’s pocket. This year we'll be offering baseball t’s, sweatshirts, t-shirts and car magnets to show your SYC pride!

Each year PAC organizes a community service drive during the holiday season. Not only does it help those in need, but it is also an excellent opportunity for our children to learn more about the world around them and how they can contribute. This year we will be collecting coats for children and adults. French Cleaners will clean them and then distribute to social service agencies within with Greater Hartford area. Drop-off boxes will be in the Resource Room through December 18.

Our next PAC meeting will take place on Wednesday, December 5th at 7pm in the SYC Resource Room. We will begin to discuss the Spring Fundraiser/Auction. As one of the biggest PAC events of the year, we are already looking for volunteers and ideas to make this year a success. Please join us to hear more about how you can get involved with this or other PAC activities.

Melissa Bowman and Stephanie Dominello, PAC Co-Chairs


  • Dec 24th-Jan 2nd: SYC CLOSED for the holiday break
  • Jan 2nd: SYC CLOSED for Professional Development
  • Jan 3rd: Preschool and BackPack REOPEN
  • Jan 9th: PAC meeting 7-8pm
  • Jan 21st: Martin Luther King Jr Day: Preschool CLOSED, BackPack OPEN
  • Jan 22nd: Family Conference Day: Preschool and BackPack CLOSED


Please have your child's FLU Shot paperwork submitted to

the main office by December 21, 2018.

If we do not have the paperwork,

your child will not be able to return to school until April 1, 2019

Please see Kharisha in the main office with any questions.

Thank you!

Reading to Your Child

The time you spend reading to your child tells him or her that you value reading and time spent together. Here are some tips to help make this experience more fulfilling.

  • Remember the "snuggly" factor. Of course book content is important, but so is the one-to-one coziness of storytime. This warmth enables your child to associate wonderful feelings with the experience of reading.
  • Choose good books.
  1. Select good literature.
  2. Look for quality illustrations and/or photographs.
  3. Find story lines that deal with the kinds of feelings and situations your child is experiencing.
  4. Check books for antibias values
  5. 'Look for boos that you both can enjoy.

  • Look over each book beforehand. Is the story the right length? Do the words correspond to the illustrations? Children are drawn to pictures, so make sure they are appealing and will hold your children's attention.
  • Once you have chosen a book, familiarize yourself with the story. Your comfort level has a great deal to do with your child's enjoyment. the better you know the story, the easier it will be for you to stop at a particularly interesting point and ask dramatically, "What do you think might happen now?"
  • Try to match your reading to your child's mood and comfort. If a story is interesting but your child is getting restless, don't hesitate to say, "I really like this story, but it is getting a little long. Let's finish it tomorrow." On the other hand, if your child is content and involved , take the opportunity to stop during the reading to talk about what a character might do or discuss how you would both feel in a specific situation.
  • Ask questions that call for a variety of responses. Pose questions that will inspire your child to use imagination and thinking skills and don't have a right or wrong answer. For example, "What are some other ways we could make this story end?"
  • Your child's relationship with books and reading changes with age and development. Infants enjoy being read to, but as your child gets older his or hers tastes, attention span, concerns, experiences, and sense of humor change. many toddlers enjoy board books with a word or two on each page and clear, logical illustrations. Older children begin to recognize specific characters and remember them even when the book isn't around. Gradually children are ready for longer sitting times and longer stories.

Source: Pre-K Today Parent Communication Tips

S.P.E.C.I.A.L. Reader Volunteers

We are truly lucky at SYC to have SPECIAL Reader volunteers! SPECIAL stands for

Seniors and Preschoolers Engaging Collaboratively In All Learning.

Volunteers come into the classrooms or BackPack once a week to read stories with the children. They also will engage in activities that are happening in the classrooms. Please say "hi" and "thank you" if you ever get the chance to meet our very SPECIAL Readers!


As the holidays draw near, we would like to take a moment to remind families of our holiday philosophy. At the School for Young Children, we strive to preserve our normal routines during holiday times. We approach the holidays by focusing on the essence of the holiday season. Groups may spend time exploring the concept of generosity during the winter holiday season and friendships during the Valentine season.

In keeping with SYC's focus on science and nature, we study seasonal changes and explore various elements of nature such as snow during the winter. We welcome families to visit classrooms and teach children about cultural or family traditions at any time of the school year. Please talk to your child's teacher if this interests you. For more information about SYC's holiday philosophy and for our full curriculum document, please visit the Families section of our website.


In the event of inclement weather or a non-weather related emergency, the SYC 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 for SYC. Please visit School may close for non-weather related emergencies (power outage, 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 Child 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 would open at 8:45am and Preschool would begin at 10:00am.

Cold Weather is Here!!

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 of mittens or gloves
  • snowboots
  • a snowsuit or snowpants

Even after the snow melts, our playground can still be muddy enough to require a snowsuit. Winter gear must be taken home each day and returned to school the next day. Carry snow clothing to and from school in your SYC reusable bag. Please 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.

Family Snack

Thank you to all families who have donated snack to their child's classroom. The children and teachers appreciate this gesture of kindness. If you would like to bring in snack or a birthday treat, please check with your child's teacher. We are asking families to please remember to provide healthy, low sugar snacks. Some ideas are:

  • bite sized fresh fruit
  • veggies
  • cheese and crackers
  • low sugar baked items
  • raisins
  • rice cakes and nut butter

Please provide your teacher with the original packaging or list of ingredients of a home baked item, for allergy purposes.

When in doubt about what to bring, ask your classroom teacher for guidance, thank you!

The School for Young Children at The University of Saint Joseph

Sue O'Donnell, Director