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.

The SYC Way

Posted on October 23, 2013 in category Director's Blog

Our staff had a lovely retreat last weekend in the Hocking Hills. Our retreats are usually fun-filled playing together with a little work mixed in. I don’t know of other preschool staffs that take time to really socialize and have fun together but it’s been a tradition to have several staff retreats each year since the school started in 1969.

The professional development portion of our retreat was a discussion of different personal styles of teaching and being with children. All of our teachers work together to be consistent using the SYC philosophy but we are individuals who bring different strengths, talents and joys to our teaching. So while each of us may go about dealing with situations in our own style, we each have the same goal — to support the development of each child.

Through the years of working with and learning from each other, we have developed a way of talking and listening that could be call the “SYC way.” I think this general style is really just listening and responding to children with respect and focus to determine what support might help.

Parents sometimes tell us they wish they could consistently handle their own children this same way. But no one — including us — can do things “the SYC way” 100% of the time. During our classes teachers usually have enough help and support to be able to respond and focus for our 2 1/2 hour class periods, but as parents ourselves we cannot always do the same thing in our own families.

SYC philosophy is a great framework to guide us, but we all bring our own personalities and styles and enjoy learning new ways to approach teaching from each other through work and play.

… Stephanie Rottmayer, Director

Emotional Beginnings

Posted on August 29, 2013 in category Director's Blog

We are looking forward to beginning the school year on September 9th. New beginnings bring out lots of emotions in all of us. One of SYC’s favorite California early childhood educators, Bev Bos says “Parents always tell me they just want their children to be happy. But don’t they want them to have the full range of human emotions?”

Negative emotions are part of being human. But of course fear, anger and sadness are much harder for adults to deal with than happiness. One of the major tasks at SYC is to help children express how they are feeling and letting them know that all feelings are okay. Accepting all feelings does not mean accepting all behavior. It’s alright to be really angry but it’s not okay to hit or hurt someone or destroy property of someone else.

At SYC we want to help children learn to express strong emotions like anger in non-violent ways. We often talk in class about what you can do when you are angry or sad. Teachers are there to help them through upsets and to make sure school is a safe accepting place. Once they know their feelings will be respected, they can begin to learn problem-solving skills that will serve them well for the rest of their lives.

So off we go into the adventure of the new school year!

…Stephanie Rottmayer, Director

What a year!

Posted on May 16, 2013 in category Director's Blog

I love looking back on everything that happened here at SYC.  The teachers are offering their view of the year from the classes.  Watching from the office windows, Adele, Holly and I often leapt from our seats with the camera to capture the unbelievable events happening around the school.  It’s hard to concentrate  on budget spreadsheets when children are creating a brand new cardboard city right outside your window.  And not that the weather is warm and our windows are open, we have regular window visitors stopping by to chat.

It always reminds me that the reason we have all come together in this special community of families is to provide a natural, safe environment for the children to explore, learn and develop in their own unique ways and in their own time.  We adults feel honored to be present to watch all these personalities as they bloom, to offer a hand here and there as needed but more often to just stand back in awe.

For our staff, the year was also consumed with documenting how children learn at SYC to meet the standards of the National Association for Young Children in order to become re-accredited.  For me, the whole reason to go through this process was to prove that our child-centered, free-play curriculum provides the basics in all areas of growth and development as well as in the social and emotional areas.

It was also the year of the “SYC Book” by Heather Shumaker, the new climber on the 3’s playground and Ann Rigney receiving the “Ohio Teacher of the Year” award.  All in all, it was a stellar year.

We had a really active and dedicated group of parents on the SYC committees who took on lots of hard projects – our silent auction was a wonderful event, but some of the other important duties of the committees are not visible but critical for keeping SYC going – the budget advisers, the fundraising and tuition assistance decisions, the maintenance and communication projects, the delicious treats from hospitality chair efforts and all the other details that come up and need attention.  Thank you all so much for all your work this year.  It’s so important to the running of the school that we have your perspective and support.

The end of the year is always bittersweet.  If your family is graduating on into the next exciting stage in the world, please stop in for hugs and to let us know how things are going for you now and then.  We will miss you.

-Stephanie Rottmayer, Director

Ann Rigney’s Ohio Teacher of the Year Acceptance Speech 4-26-2013

Posted on May 02, 2013 in category SYC Announce

Thank you to everyone involved.  I am most grateful.  I was completely surprised by the announcement that I was the winner because I didn’t even know that I had been nominated.

When a teacher from our preschool won this award a few years ago, she wet her pants.  I didn’t wet my pants, but I did have to sit down suddenly.  They called me out of the classroom to receive a special phone call.  I couldn’t even understand what I was told on the phone because I was so distracted by the sight of my husband, fellow teachers, retired teachers and director surrounding me with balloons and cameras.

I’m extremely honored to receive this award.  I am representing the many creative and wonderful preschool teachers, past and present, at the School for Young Children and also the many excellent teachers statewide who work with young children.  But this award is especially meaningful because it honors a school I’ve devoted my life to — the School for Young Children and its play-based philosophy.

At the School for Young Children, we know that kids need time and space for free play without teachers telling them what to do.  That wrestling matches in the classroom are OK.  That boys can wear princess dresses.  That kids can paint their arms and feet purple.  This type of play helps kids develop socially and emotionally.  That’s the core of our preschool program, and it has remained strong for the past 43 years, despite many national swings of the pendulum.

The School for Young Children was started in 1969 by two forward-thinking women.  It has made a profound difference in my life.  When I first encountered the preschool I was a struggling new parent.  I felt uncomfortable with my children’s feelings, unless they were happy.  I soaked up knowledge from mentors at the School for Young Children, became a teacher, and stayed.  Forty years later, I am still learning.

I feel so lucky to have found this very supportive and loving community of teachers and parents.  Both my son and daughter attended the preschool and they are here tonight.  Both my children are writers, and my daughter felt so strongly about the School for Young Children that she wrote the book It’s OK Not to Share, which summarizes its philosophy.

There are a lot of expectations that pressure young children these days.  When in doubt, trust your own instincts; trust your children’s play ideas, and Let Kids Play!  Thank you.

Ann Rigney

Ohio Teacher of the Year