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.

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


A Letter from an SYC Visitor

Posted on April 25, 2013 in category SYC Announce


SYC recently received this letter from an early childhood professional from San Francisco.  We thought we would share her wonderful words.


Dear SYC Staff,

Thank you so much for allowing me to visit your center earlier this month.  After reading It’s Ok NOT to Share, I found out the SYC was in Columbus, I knew I had to visit, as I’m from Dayton and was heading back to Ohio shortly.  So, lucky for me, about 2 weeks ago I got to visit your lovely school on a Friday afternoon for a few hours.  I was so impressed by the teaching staff and the environment they had set up for the children.  But what stuck me most about the SYC was over and above everything else was the high quality of teacher-child interactions.  In child care, we certainly can’t emphasize enough how important it is to speak with children in a respectful manner.  I shared all the photos I took and the information I gleamed from my visit with my staff last night at our monthly meeting and they were so interested to hear about it.  We’re considering reading the book for our professional development next school year.

Then when I found out on my visit that SYC staff had just met with Celia Genishi, who was my supervising professor in Grad School, I realized why I was attracted to the book and your school in the first place.  Like minds do eventually find each other!

Thank you so much for providing the environment that put this book out there in the public eye, we’ve recommended it to all our families at the Children’s Campus and I’ve let all my mommy friends know as well.  The children and families at your school are very lucky.

Keep up the good work,

Kelly Dotson


Kelly Dotson, MA

Children’s Campus Program Manager

San Francisco State University