About SYC . . .

School for Young Children Welcome to the website of the School for Young Children in Columbus, Ohio. Our program was founded in 1969 as a part-time preschool program.  Our philosophy has remained consistent through the years; that children be allowed to develop at their own pace in an atmosphere of free play enriched with a variety of creative materials and the support of teachers who respect them as individuals.

As a community outreach program of the First Unitarian Universalist Church, we are a welcoming school--we do not discriminate upon the basis of race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, economic status, or cultural background of parents or children.

NAEYC Accreditation

Posted on October 17, 2017 in category Director's Blog

NAEYC Accreditation

SYC has been accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children since 1989.  Every five years, we undergo a renewal process that includes a site visit (which we had recently), classroom portfolios that show evidence of how we support children’s learning, and a program portfolio that indicates how we’ve structured the program to keep kids safe and learning.  It’s an arduous process but one that we’re proud of and would like to share with you.

The NAEYC lists over 150 criteria that have to be represented in each classroom portfolio, some more than once.  Our teachers were tasked with finding ways to visually represent the learning that happens in the classrooms in ways that are true to how we do things at SYC. Because children are freely choosing their play, we can’t predict ahead of time what they’ll be learning.  But what we can do is carefully watch and observe, see what learning is already going on and explore ways to expand and further that learning.  And we can introduce areas of potential learning through small group and rug time activities.

These criteria cover all areas of teaching and learning:  relationships, curriculum (literacy, mathematical skills, science, social studies, problem solving, safety), assessment, families, and physical environment.  The way we’ve chosen to represent children’s learning in the portfolios is by describing an activity children may engage in (playing babies) and the learning that has happened during that play (caring for others, safety, writing signs, reading books, singing, differences in families, counting bottles, etc).  Below you can see one example from each of the 2s, 3s and 4s classroom portfolios to give more of an idea about how rich with learning child-directed play can be.

 

2’s portfolio page

3’s portfolio page

4’s portfolio page

 

Please stop by the office and take a look at the entire portfolio when you have a chance.  You might be amazed at the amount of learning that can happen during play.

For even more information about learning in play, please consider attending our “Hands on Learning” Parent Ed on Thursday, 10/26.  We’ll talk about how to see the learning that’s happening when children play, and ways to encourage that learning without getting in the way.

We’re proud of the work our teachers have done in working toward our NAEYC reaccreditation, and even more proud of the work they do every day to build relationships with children and families, to carefully observe each child’s play, and to meet children’s needs for autonomy in their play while providing support and enhancement when needed.  NAEYC accreditation is just icing on the cake.

 

…Susan Roscigno, Co-Director

 

Scholarship Auction

Posted on September 29, 2017 in category SYC Announce

*^* SYC Scholarship Auction *^*
SAVE THE DATE : Friday Nov 10th
Just six weeks away!

It’s a silent table auction of hundreds of items ranging in value from $5-$100+

Mingle with friends from the SYC community, have good food and a drink, snag some awesome and unique things for yourself or to give as gifts.


Enter 50/50 raffle to take home half the pot!


If you want to help organize, have donation ideas or just need to know more, call Holly in the SYC office at 614-267-0254.


The auction is responsible for raising the majority (or at least half) of the scholarship fund that helps SYC families send their kids to school that otherwise might not be able to. 


Plus it’s a ton of fun!


Rachel Kraut
Auction Chair

SYC’s Social/Emotional Umbrella

Posted on September 14, 2017 in category Director's Blog

SYC's Social/Emotional Umbrella

When we give tours and talk to people about SYC, it’s always a bit hard to describe who we are and what we do. We mostly play so we call ourselves “play-based” but that has come to mean so many different things: from all play all day with no structured parts of the day, to a brief time when kids are allowed to “play” in certain centers with certain materials in a certain way until a bell rings. It’s hard to describe exactly what SYC is – maybe you’ve found that to be true, too. And while the core of who we are has remained the same, sometimes we’ve found it helpful to reexamine how we define ourselves in relation to other programs out there.

Each year, usually in the spring, our staff engages in professional development that might involve attending a workshop or conference, visiting one or more schools, or meeting with other early childhood professionals to discuss what we do and why. These experiences offer our staff more than just the few hours spent observing and listening. They bring on conversations among our staff that challenge and question what we do and why we do it.

We’d like to tell you about three of these recent visits, the conversations they sparked and what we’ve learned about ourselves in the process.

A few years ago, our staff travelled to Cincinnati to tour and meet with the staff of two project-based schools where kids engage in months-long investigations of a particular topic. It’s not what we do, but it was interesting to see. During the course of the conversations with the other teachers, we tried explaining how what we do is different. We talked about acknowledging all feelings, about setting and listening to limits, about learning to get along in a group. At one point, one of the Cincinnati teachers said, “Oh, I see. Social and emotional development is your umbrella – everything you do is seen through the lense of social and emotional development.” Yes! That’s who we are and what we do, though it had been a while since we put it in those words. Having that framework, though, has helped us see ourselves in relation to other programs as well as to make sure we’re maintaining the focus within our own program.

Last year, we visited a preschool in Baltimore whose focus is totally on child-led play. They believe that children need a place and time where there are few if any limits to what they can do. Their program has no structured parts of the day: no small groups, no rug time or story time, no sit-down-snack. When seen through a lens of child-led play – their umbrella – this totally makes sense – they don’t want to have anything impact the time that’s set aside for play. In the weeks and months following the visit, our staff has reaffirmed our belief in play as well, and our desire to to save aside as much time as possible for it. However, through the lense of social and emotional development, we also see value in the small communities formed during small groups, in the shared experiences of story time or rug time. This visit encouraged us to examine if there are ways that we could devote more of our day to play without sacrificing the social and emotional support provided by the few structured parts of our day.

Finally, this summer the two of us visited Roseville Community Preschool in Sacramento, California. Roseville was the home of Bev Bos, a mentor to several generations of SYC teachers. Bev believed that, given the freedom to explore and play, children will learn exactly what they are ready to learn, they don’t need adults pushing them onto the next task. Our visit reconfirmed our belief in the individuality of each child and our trust in their learning process. We were reminded of the importance of an engaging and inviting environment, and again of protecting the time for play while maintaining our umbrella of social and emotional development.

Upon returning home from our most recent trip and as we began to prepare our office for the school year, we stumbled upon some of the historical SYC documents. One written by Julia Sonner Sheppard called “S.Y.C–School for Maturity” in her article from 1976 she describes SYC as such :

“Janet Stocker and Lee Row, co-founders of the preschool, begin with the premise that preschool is for individual emotional and social development rather than for academics or ‘school situation’ training. A child who has his own feelings sorted out, his own sense of identity, his own self-control and his own self-direction can go on to academics with the fewest stumbling blocks. It is much more difficult for a child to be faced with academics while he is still struggling with basic emotional and social development. Try teaching the alphabet, for example, to a child who is on the verge of tears because his mother has abandoned him to unfamiliar teachers and strange surroundings.”

“Verbalizing his own needs and feelings and listening to the needs and reactions of others demonstrate cause and effect to the child. The opportunity to make choices also teaches him the results of his decisions. Recognizing the consequences for his actions is of the the steps in a child’s learning responsibility.”

The culmination of these experiences has us looking carefully at what we are doing, making sure that we’re making the best use of the little time we have together in a way that aligns with our philosophy. As we continue to learn and grow, some classes may tweak their schedules or their structured parts of the day in order to maximize the time set aside for play, while keeping our social/emotional umbrella in mind. As a staff, we’ll be talking with each other about what we’re doing and how it works, we’ll be sharing ideas and support. We’ll keep you informed and welcome feedback as we go. Ask questions, make suggestions. This is your community, too.

 

– Susan Roscigno and Amy Rudawsky, SYC Co-Directors

Reigniting the fire and carrying the torch…

Posted on July 30, 2017 in category Director's Blog

Reigniting the fire and carrying the torch...

Recently Susan and I traveled to Sacramento, California for a unique opportunity to learn from some lifelong advocates of play.  Sitting right on the Placer County fairgrounds is the Roseville Community Preschool (RCP), made known by passionate play advocate Bev Bos in the 1960s.

Many years ago our own SYC mentors visited RCP for a very similar conference held by Bev and her son-in-law, Michael Leeman, the current director.  Over the years SYC staff have viewed pictures and heard stories of their experience at the conference.  SYC leaders formed lasting personal and professional relationships with both Bev and Michael, and even invited them to SYC one year to co-host an event advocating for play in our community.  Sadly, Bev died in Feb 2016, before many of our current staff ever had a chance to meet her.

When Susan and I saw that this year they would hold a new conference we jumped at the chance to immerse ourselves in learning and playing with other like-minded professionals. We attended workshops on Peter Gray’s work on the value of play, and on the value of loose parts: materials that can be moved, carried, combined, redesigned, lined up, and taken apart and put back together in multiple ways, materials with no specific set of directions that can be used alone or combined with other materials.  We also heard about the importance of creating a sense of belonging for all the children in your program, presented by Dan Hodgins.

We were given several opportunities to tour the preschool followed by an open discussion with the Roseville Preschool staff.  It’s hard to put into words of the experience of entering the classroom.  It was the feeling of joy, freedom, and creativity, and of being immersed in nature throughout the entire indoor and outdoor space.  It was a place I wanted to stay in, to play in.

During the interactive conference we connected with other professionals from all over the country, sharing and learning from others who also passionately believe that play-based learning is what’s best for kids.  Surrounding ourselves by this unique community has reignited our fire to carry the torch that Bev lit so many years ago, and that Jan Waters and Stephanie Rottmayer passed on to us. We can’t wait to share what we’ve seen with the rest of the SYC staff when we come back in the fall.

We’ve returned from California refreshed and even more confident that the work we do at SYC is the right work.  We insist on creating a safe space for all kids, with opportunities for movement, creativity, and freedom.  A place where kids want to stay and play.

We look forward to playing in September.

…Amy Rudawsky, Co-Director

Amy with Michael Leeman, Director of Roseville Community Preschool

Amy and Susan in front of Roseville Community Preschool