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.

History of SYC – Throwback Thursday

Posted on September 01, 2016 in category Director's Blog

History of SYC - Throwback Thursday

To understand SYC as it is today, it is important to know a little of how the school came about.  The two women who founded the school, Lee Row and Janet Stocker, had a dream of creating a school that would meet the developmental needs of young children.  Both women have previous teaching experience with preschoolers and were eager to put their creative energies into building a school of their own.  They envisioned a school where large periods of the time would be allotted to free play and where art material would be available all the time.  They wanted to encourage creative thinking and problem solving in young children.  

In 1969 the First Unitarian Universalist Church opened its doors to Janet and Lee by sponsoring the preschool as a social outreach program to the community.  The church’s Sunday School classrooms were spacious, with ceiling to floor glass windows, and the grassy areas outside made for a lovely setting for playgrounds.  The founders and their teachers developed ideas for the program by imagining they were children and imagining what kind of preschool they would want to be in.  These early teaching teams attended to enter the child’s world and build a program which allowed children to interact with each other in rooms filled with developmentally appropriate play materials.  It seemed to the founders that children’s interaction with each other, with materials in the classroom, and with the teachers were the fertile soil through with young children could grow and develop.

Lee and Janet noticed that the first step to becoming an autonomous playing child was for that child to separate successfully from parents.  Strategies for helping children feel safe at school and for helping families deal with feelings aroused by separation were developed to smooth the entrance to school.  Retired master teacher Shirley Cheney says, “The process of setting positive patterns and coping styles for separation are an important part of SYC’s  philosophy and curriculum.”

Another area of special concern to Lee and Janet was the protection of children’s rights.  Lee says, “When teachers do consistently set proper limits, it isn’t simple case of reading children their rights.  These rights have to be reinforced each time they have been violated.”  The rules of the classroom becoming a living reflection of children’s rights.

Children have a right:

  • To feel safe
  • To non-interrupted play
  • To keep a toy or a piece of equipment as long as they are using it
  • To play with whomever they want and discontinue playing whenever they want
  • To not be abused by someone emotionally or physically
  • To have possessions not be destroyed intentionally
  • To bring an object brought from home and not have to share it
  • To have the consistent support of teachers in the enforcement of these rights

Furthermore, said the founders, everyone is responsible for his/her own actions and the effect she/he has on other people.  Many devoted teachers, along with parents and children,  have contributed to the development of the program in the last 20 years.  The guiding force in the program’s development of the program in the observations of the children and the teachers’ assessment of the children’s reactions to art activities, play, classmates, materials in the classroom,and the teachers’ assessment of themselves.

SYC has grown from two classes with 40 students to nine classes with 147 students.  We have 15 part-time teachers, an office administrator, and co-directors who also teach a class.  Those of us who presently work at the school see SYC as a dynamic, exciting place to work.  We never stop learning; we never stop creating, and we stay focused on maintaining a school that is truly for young children.  To enter SYC’s doors is to enter the world of the child–to see, to hear the noises, and to feel the excitement and warmth of participating in what the children are capable of doing, to hear the noise of what children are capable of doing.  

…Jan Waters, SYC Director Emerita

Teacher Renewal

Posted on August 19, 2016 in category Director's Blog

Teacher Renewal

While spring is traditionally thought of as a time of renewal, summer plays that role in the life of a teacher.  It’s a chance to step back from the routine of the school year to catch your breath, to spend time with family and friends, to renew and ready yourself for the year ahead.  Sometimes that renewal comes from time alone or with old friends.  It may come from travel to new places or return visits to special places or simply time at home.  But the result is hopefully the same – that we come back together at the end of the summer ready to be in community once again.

This summer I found renewal – both personal and professional – at the Green Mountain Teachers Camp in Dummerston, VT.   Attending camp was a big step outside of my comfort zone – I knew no one there and wasn’t sure what to expect.  I was reminded of what my students might feel like on their first day at SYC:  Where do I put my stuff?  What if it all gets wet in the rain?  Who will I sit with at dinner?  Will I find my place?  Will I belong?

Fortunately, the other teachers at the camp were very welcoming and easy to talk with.  I met teachers of all stripes – preschool, elementary and even college – from all over the US including Alaska. We talked about the role of mindfulness for both teachers and children, and ways to get more play into the classroom.  We discussed the role of technology in our personal and professional lives and used the framework of photography to examine the lenses through which we all view the world, including the lives of our students.  We sang every day, laughed and talked at meals, shared stories of our schools, hiked to a waterfall and swam in a river, and created beauty.  It wasn’t always easy – there were moments when I had to take a deep breath and make myself approach someone I hadn’t talked to yet, times when I forced myself to say yes when I could have easily said no – but it was so worth the effort and I grew both as a person and as a teacher, renewed with appreciation for the amazing community of SYC and for the year ahead.

As we welcome the teachers and families back to SYC, we hope that your summer has left you with a sense of renewal and an eagerness to rejoin the community.  It’s not always easy to start things up again and sometimes we have to step outside of our comfort zones to welcome others and allow change to happen.   But it’s so worth it when we do!

…Susan Roscigno, SYC Co-Director


Cabin at Green Mountain Teachers Camp

Cabin at Green Mountain Teachers Camp




Posted on July 31, 2016 in category Director's Blog


Summer offers different opportunities for kids and families.  Swimming at the pool, trips to the zoo, visits to local parks, day camps, festivals and fairs.  It’s a great chance to make some wonderful family memories.  But, it can also feel exhausting trying to be the cruise director of your summer “break.” Building in unstructured time and time to be bored into your summer plans is also important.

Having the unstructured time kids will usually find something interesting to do with it.  Play is children’s work and they thrive with self-directed play.

They need time to:

  • move their bodies, to jump, climb
  • play out their emotions and experiences in creative ways
  • decompress and reflect from a day full of activities
  • tinker and discover new interests
  • catch fireflies
  • swing on swings and climb up the slide 😉
  • build mud pies
  • stare and wonder
  • run barefoot in the grass

This time allows them to develop and enhance their imagination and to become more creative.  When they have the chance to wonder what to do they may discover a new passion or master a task, gaining confidence in new and old skills.

So allow yourself to resign from pre-planning all the activities and let some of the summer just be.  Memories will still be made and probably more messes.  But nothing a garden hose can’t wash off.

It’s hard to believe that a new year of SYC will upon us in about 6 more weeks.  In this newsletter we have provided a listing of this year’s classes and teachers.  We haven’t yet staffed our Friday 2’s class.  We’ll let you know as soon as we have those two positions filled.

Be sure to watch your e-mail for lots of information that will be arriving as we begin another year of playing.

Enjoy the rest of this HOT summer!

…Amy Rudawsky, Co-Director



Posted on May 20, 2016 in category From the Office

Julie Ballinger

Julie Ballinger


Denise Jacobs

This year we also say goodbye to two teachers who will be taking a break from SYC.  Julie Ballinger, who has taught at SYC for 12 years, will be taking classes at OSU full-time next year as she pursues her degree in occupational therapy.  Denise Jacobs, who has been a teacher with us for 13 years, will be taking a hiatus to care for herself.  Both Julie and Denise may come back to SYC in the near or distant future, as helpers, subs or classrooms teachers. Until then, we know that SYC will always be with them, in their hearts, as they will be with us.