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.

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

A Glimpse Behind the Scenes

Posted on May 18, 2017 in category Director's Blog

You come to school every few days and see what’s happening in the classrooms:  the loving attention of our teachers, the excitement of playing with peers, the conflict that comes from differing opinions and the resolution that often comes after, the freedom to create.  You see the play, the safe place to express all emotions, the chance to take risks – whether social, emotional, cognitive or physical.

But you might not see everything that goes on behind the scenes to make all this happen.  As we wrap up the year, we thought you might like to get a glimpse of what goes on behind the scenes:

  • A group of teachers worked together to create a new structure to the fall SYC Parent Orientation with more focus on building community within classes.
  • Based on the responses to the fall orientation, we designed and hosted a New Family Orientation in April to give families who are just joining the community a chance to learn about SYC’s philosophy, practices and the day-to-day details of coming to school here.
  • We had our first Family Play Date last September which was a huge hit – we hope to replicate it this fall (and would welcome your help!)
  • 38 new families joined us this year, with 30 more new families on track to join us this fall.
  • Over $12,000 in scholarship money was raised through your generosity both at the Scholarship Auction and through other donations and was allocated to 14 families
  • We received a very generous donation from former SYC teacher, Gene Ackerman, which will go to more scholarships in the coming years.
  • Teachers travelled to Baltimore, MD to see how one school supports child-led learning.
  • Teachers engaged in an in-depth study of several different child development philosophies and how they related to SYC, as well as workshops supporting racial and gender diversity and children with special needs and their families.
  • Teachers renewed their certification in communicable disease prevention and ODJFS rules training.
  • Several teachers have worked to prepare for our NAEYC renewal visit sometime next year, including vast documentation of the learning that happens every day in our classrooms.
  • We learned and adapted to the new child care licensing rules adopted by ODJFS in December.
  • We were visited by educators from Toledo who are starting a program for children who are kicked out of other preschools and wanted to see how we work with social and emotional development, an educator from Chicago who had read It’s OK Not to Share and wanted to see us in action, a team from Nationwide Children’s Hospital who support children and preschool programs who are struggling, and a person from Marysville who wants to start her own nature-based preschool.
  • We’ve had observations from a number of OSU students as well as long-term internships from Columbus State, CAHS, and Upper Arlington students.
  • Two retired SYC teachers have volunteered regularly while a few more have made occasional visits to help out.
  • We’ve used: 600+ bandaids, three gallons of glue, 1,800 feathers, three giant rolls of paper, and 35 rolls of masking tape.
  • We’ve had 9 fire drills and 3 tornado drills (sometimes called emergency practices), one visit by Dream Shop, three visits by the firefighters, and many visits by parents and caregivers sharing their skills/interests with us.
  • We’ve hosted four parent education nights, eight parent coffees and one kindergarten info night.
  • Teachers have had countless emails and conversations with parents, consultations with outside experts, referrals, articles/books read, smiles and hugs given/received.

Wow.  Sounds like a lot when you put it all down on paper!  And it is a lot in addition to all the hard work that happens in the classrooms each day, but it is all lovingly and willingly done to keep the SYC program and philosophies alive and well.  If you’d like to help keep us going, please be sure to keep an eye out for the volunteer sign-ups that will come in the fall.  We’d love to have your help!


…Susan Roscigno, Co-Director


Risk Taking for Preschoolers

Posted on February 21, 2017 in category Director's Blog

Risk Taking for Preschoolers

What do we know about risk taking for preschoolers?

This is what we know…risk taking and risk assessment is a vital role in a person’s growth and development in life.  

For an adult, it might look like taking on a physical challenge of stepping up to a barbell to try and lift a heavier weight, asking someone out on a date, giving a speech to a large crowd, or sharing a viewpoint that may not be popular.

For a preschooler, it may look like climbing a tree. The child senses what it feels like to hold on to a branch with their hands as they feel around to place their foot and decipher which branch is sturdy enough to support their body.  Putting hands into a sensory table to experience an unknown sensation and determine if that’s a feeling they like or dislike, asking a classmate to sit next to them at lunch, offering an idea at a circle time in front of the large group, attempting to write one’s name, or using a saw at the workbench are other ways a preschooler may experience risk taking.  

More recently, our society has become more risk averse. Parents, teachers, caregivers fear children will be hurt or uncomfortable.  Society has even labeled some of us as “helicopter parents”.  By being risk averse, we miss that “sweet spot of where the magic happens.”  We miss the opportunity for growth and we deprive kids of risk assessment.  This risk assessment helps them match their skills with the demands of the environment.  If children do not have the practice of risk assessing, they will look to others to decide what’s safe (peers and adults).  Children need to become competent in their skills with the opportunity to take age appropriate risks. Taking a risk or a chance means that they might make a mistake.  The more opportunities for risk and mistakes gives children confidence about taking chances and helps them rebound and learn flexibility when things don’t work out exactly the first time. Hazards are different from risks and require a watchful eye and feedback from caregivers. Hazards are invisible risks that children can’t see like a broken tricycle or pieces of glass shards on a playground. It’s our job as adults to assess for hazards.  

As parents, educators, and society how can we support our preschoolers in taking risks?  We can stop saying “be careful”.  “Be careful” is not a useful saying as it gives no information. Giving specific feedback is more useful.  We can provide kids with opportunities in a safe space to explore risks by looking for hazards and staying close by.  By remaining calm, we can show the kids that we trust their ability to problem solve and risk assess.  If children succeed, they gain the confidence in mastery of their task. If they make a mistake, they gain information about what didn’t work and they gain the ability to try it again a different way.  
Now is the time to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.  It will led us to growth: personal, societal, and family.

…Amy Rudawsky, Co-Director

Lottery Results for 2017-18

Posted on February 19, 2017 in category SYC Announce

2017-18 School Year

Updated 02/19/2017

Class Spots Available # on waitlist
MW am 2’s 0 13
TTh am 2’s 0 11
January Fri 2’s 0 8
MWF am 3’s 0 25
TTh am 3’s 0 19
TWTh pm 3/4’s 0 21
MWF am 4’s 0 27
TTh am 4’s 0 12
TWThF pm 4/5’s 0 13


After the preliminary priority and non-priority lottery processing, some of the waitlists appear lengthy because several children are on two or three watilists. Please keep in mind we usually have some waitlist movement between February and the beginning of the school year in September.

If you are interested, we are continuing to accept applications for the 2017-18 school year.  Enrollment materials can be found on our Enrollment page.