School for Young Children

Inquiring Minds October 2018

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

From our Director Sue O'Donnell

School for Young Children’s 2018-2019 school year is off to a fantastic start! Teaching staff in the program use their expertise to prepare the environment, create classroom community and support children entering their classroom for the first time. Teachers with training specific to Early Childhood Education does make a difference – and your children reap the benefits!

Providing different opportunities for parents and adults to continue their understanding of early childhood development is an important aspect of our program. Throughout the year we will offer evening workshops on variety of topics. I hope you will take time to consider attending these workshops.

On Tuesday October 23 at 7pm we are hosting a workshop for parents. Justine Stagon and Molly Sexton-Read from Mary’s Place, a center for grieving children and families in Windsor will address the group on how to initiate difficult conversations related to death and dying with young children. Molly has a background in early childhood education which will enrich this workshop. Discussions related to death, dying and the emotional reactions people have are difficult for adults to initiate. Families will encounter situations that cause them to deal with the death of a family member, friend, or pet. Having strategies in place is helpful and will allow you to provide comfort and conversation during difficult moments and situations.

I am working to schedule someone from Yale’s Center for Emotional Intelligence to present a workshop on RULER. Teaching staff and children will share specific things they are discussing related to RULER that occur throughout the week. The workshop will allow you to utilize RULER strategies in your home and further expand children’s understanding of their emotions.

PAC Meeting

Wednesday, Oct. 3rd, 7-8pm

SYC Conference Room

Columbus Day

Monday, Oct. 8th, 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 Columbus Day, Oct 8th.

Priority Enrollment Begins

Monday, Oct. 15th, 7:45am

School For Young Children

Priority enrollment for current families, returning families and USJ employees for the 2019-2020 school year begins Oct 15, 2018.

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 12, 2018. Applications will be placed in your child's picture pocket shortly before Monday October 15th. Please return your completed application by Friday November 9th. There is no application fee required for current families.

We will be holding an Open House on Saturday October 27, 2018, 10-11:30AM for prospective families.

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.

Fall Festival Rooms 2,5,6,7

Monday, Oct. 15th, 9:30am-12pm

SYC playground

Rooms 2,5,6, and 7 will be celebrating Fall! Check out the PAC board for signing up to volunteer!

Fall Festival Rooms 1,3,4

Tuesday, Oct. 16th, 9:30am-12pm

SYC playground

Rooms 1, 3, and 4 will be celebrating Fall! Check out the PAC board for signing up to volunteer!

Family Conference Week

Monday, Oct. 22nd, 7:45am to Friday, Oct. 26th, 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.
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Open House for Prospective Families

Saturday, Oct. 27th, 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.

Children Learn Through Their Play

Play supports children's learning in so many ways. make sure your child has time to play to promote cognitive, language and literacy, physical, social, and emotional development.

Never underestimate the value of play! While playing, children learn and develop

  • Cognitive skills-like choosing the blocks to build a tower as high as possible
  • Language skills-like learning the vocabulary words they need for different play scenarios
  • Literacy skill- like writing an appointment in a pretend dentist's office
  • Physical abilities- like gluing a collage and running on the playground
  • Social skills- like playing together in a pretend car wash with workers and customers
  • Emotional skills- like waiting for a turn to be the pretend bus driver

Play is healthy

Play helps children grow strong and healthy. It can also help prevent child obesity through its active nature.

Play reduces stress

Play helps children grow emotionally. It is joyful and provides and outlet for anxiety and stress.

Play outside

Think about your won outdoor experience of building forts, sledding in the winter, or playing with other children in the neighborhood. Make sure your children create outdoor memories, too.

Play and learning go hand in hand

Play and learning are not separate activities but are closely connected. Think about them as a science lecture with a lab-play is a child's lab.

Play is a child's context for learning

Children practice and reinforce their learning in multiple areas during the play. For example, in playing restaurant, children write and draw menus, set prices, take orders, and play out roles. Play provides rich learning opportunities and leads to children's success and growth in self-esteem

by Laurel Bongiorno PhD, Division of Education and Human Studies, Champlain College

NAEYC Message in a Backpack, August 2018

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. A photo display of current student workers is posted in the hallway leading to the gym. Please introduce yourself to the USJ students!


Durkhanai Jabary is a Junior from Windham, CT, class of 2020! She is majoring in Nutrition and Dietetics. Durkhanai is a member of the Nutrition Club and plays Field Hockey. In her spare time, she likes to read and play tennis. The children at SYC call her DJ! Please introduce yourself to Durkhanai and our other wonderful student workers. Names and photos of all student workers are hanging in the back hallway.

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Music Classes at SYC!

Hello SYC Families,

My name is Michelle Russell and I will be making music with your children this year. If you have a returning student, I look forward to another musioc filled year together! If your child is new to SYC, I can assure you that they will have a great year. I meet with each classroom once a week for 30 minutes. During this time we sing songs, explore instruments, and move our bodies. We work on early childhood musical concepts of starting/stopping, fast/slow, and loud/soft. We support academic goals by using our music making time to work on turn taking, self regulation, and early childhood building blocks (colors, numbers, animals, seasons, feelings). Ask your child about music time with Miss Michelle!

Happy back to school!

Michelle Russell MA, MT-BC

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PAC News

Fall is in the air and with that come some great Fall activities that PAC has organized: the Fall Festival and our Fall Fundraiser (Lyman Orchard Pies).


The Fall Festival will be taking place on Monday, October 15th and Tuesday, October 16th, depending on your child's room (see below for the schedule). The Fall Festival will include an SYC pumpkin patch where your child will pick their very own pumpkin to decorate. We will have face painting, apple cider, an obstacle course, and other fun Fall activities. Families are welcome to join their child at their designated time. Siblings are welcome. Children whose Fall Festival day is schedule on a day that they are not normally in school are welcome to attend as long as they are accompanied by an adult. This event is a ton of fun and one of the children's favorites all year!


Monday, October 15th: Room 6--9:30-10:10, Room 2--10:15-10:55, Room 5--11:00-11:40, and Room 7-- 11:45-12:25

Tuesday, October 16th: Room 1--9:30-10:10, Room 3--10:15-10:55, and Room 4--11:00-11:40

Volunteers Needed: The Fall Festival cannot be successful without volunteers to run the various stations. If your schedule permits, we kindly ask you to sign up for a time slot and a specific station you would like to work at. Please make sure that you do not sign up for your child's time-slot so that you can enjoy the event with them. The sign-up sheet is posted on the PAC bulletin board outside the SYC office. Thanks in advance for your assistance.


The Fall Fundraiser (Lyman Orchard Pies) will be kicking off on Monday. Look for the order form in your child's picture pocket. Orders are due by October 15th and will be collected in the SYC office. Lyman Orchards will deliver our pies (frozen) to SYC on Monday, November 19th...just in time for Thanksgiving! Your order will be organized and ready for pick-up that morning. A reminder email will be sent closer to the date.

The money raised by our pie sales are used to fund the array of PAC-sponsored events such as our Fall Festival, Family Movie Nights and the Spring Picnic. Checks should be made payable to "The University of Saint Joseph." Lyman Orchard Pies make a great Fall gift or an even better Thanksgiving dessert!


Thanks for your support in advance and as always, please let us know if you have any questions. We look forward to seeing all of you at our first PAC meeting Wednesday, October 3rd at 7pm.

Melissa Bowman & Stephanie Dominello

PAC Co-Chairs


All children enrolled at SYC are required by the State of CT Department of Public Health to have an influenza vaccination between 7/1/18 and 12/31/18 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, 2018 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?

  • Saturday Nov. 3rd: Family Day at the USJ Art Gallery
  • Friday Nov. 9th: Prioroty Enrollment for 2019-2020 ends
  • Monday Nov. 12th: Open Enrollment for 2019-2020 begins
  • Nov. 22nd & 23rd: SYC closed for Thanksgiving Break: NO Preschool or Backpack in session
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Our SPECIAL ( Seniors & Preschoolers Engaging In All Learning) volunteer readers have started! Each class and backpack has a reader come in each week 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
  • raw peas
  • 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.


Dear School for Young Children,

We are so excited to have the SYC family join us as we start our fourth annual toy drive for Operation Holiday Child ( Our hope is to collect as many new toys to stuff in shoeboxes as possible before November 14th. Each shoebox will travel the globe and be the one special gift that a child receives for their birthday, a holiday gift or simply for a child who has lost everything to a natural disasters such as the recent hurricane Florence to the devastating mudslides in Japan. Hair clips, pencils and markers, a doll, a necklace, a baseball. Every item lovingly added to an Operation Holiday Child shoebox has the potential to impact a child. We hope you will join us!

Here are a few ways to help!

- Get your kids involved and pack your own shoebox!

- Select a few special gifts to donate and we will pack the shoebox for you!

- Make a donation we will do the shopping and packing for you!

Please remember that all toy donations need to be small enough to fit in a shoebox and all donations should be left in the designated bins at each SYC classroom.

Donation Ideas:

A “wow” item, personal care items, clothing and accessories, crafts and activities, small balls, beanie boos, cards, small lego sets, etc!

Please do not include:

Candy; toothpaste; used or damaged items; war-related items such as toy guns, knives, or military figures; chocolate or food; seeds; fruit rolls or other fruit snacks; drink mixes (powdered or liquid); liquids or lotions; medications or vitamins; breakable items such as snow globes or glass containers; aerosol cans.

​ Thank you so much for joining us!

Ava, Harrison and Lena Butler , Room 6

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The School for Young Children at The University of Saint Joseph

Have any comments, questions, or suggestions for our newsletter?

Contact Deidre Horan, Assistant Director at or 860-231-5562