January thru March 2018           
Playgroups, Support Groups, Parenting Seminars, Special Events
As part of First Connections' Mass. Dept. of Early Education and Care grant, we will be sending newsletter recipients a short survey as part of a required Community Needs Assessment. We appreciate all feedback from families on services we provide or do not provide that you feel are needed. Surveys will be able to be completed online, or can be mailed by request.   

Very Important Donation Thank You's

Postpartum Support International Out of the Darkness Walk:  $6,708

This funding allows us to continue to provide expanded first-year-of-life programming such as the New Mothers Group, Emotional Wellbeing After Baby Group, and home visiting.

NAMMA Families West Acton Fall Fair: $52

Trinitarian Church, Concord, grant: $4,000

Metrowest Chamber of Commerce Holiday Breakfast: $166

Laura Mills: $100

The Weekday Moms Playgroup: Extremely generous donation of Amazon Wish List books, toys, support group refreshments and cleaning supplies!  



or call 978-429-8284
We will confirm your registration!
Thank You! 

brain building


Expanded Resource!
This support group will now be offered at two times to serve more specific groups

Miscarriage/Early Pregnancy Loss Support Group
This pilot group will run for 3 months and possibly beyond. The group is for those who have experienced early pregnancy loss and are seeking support from others with shared experiences. 
Meets from 5:00-6:15 p.m.
Jan. 8, Feb. 12, March 12

Infant and Pregnancy Loss Support Group:
This free monthly group is for those who have experienced the loss of a pregnancy at any stage or infant loss shortly after birth and are looking for support from others with shared experiences.
Jan. 8, Feb. 12, March 12,
6:30 to 8:00 p.m.

 Both groups are facilitated by an advanced practice nurse with experience supporting families whose pregnancies have ended unexpectedly or whose infants have died.

Both groups held at First Connections
179 Great Road, #104A

Individuals are encouraged to contact the facilitator, Katie Stockman, NP, at 
or 978-287-3422 before attending, though this is not required. Please email Katie for confirmation the group is running in the event of severe weather.  
News About Childcare
Parents who would like to know if they are eligible for a childcare subsidy should call 877-211-6277, or go to www .mass211.org
This free service will help you find childcare that works for your family by providing referrals to licensed child care centers, family child care providers, preschools, and out-of-school time programs. This free service is available 7 days a week, 24 hours a day.

Subsidy Update
There are currently 25,000 children on the wait list for a subsidy to help pay for the cost of child care.
If you are already on the subsidy wait list and have recently moved, changed your phone number or email address, please be sure to contact the office  below serving your town to update your record:

 978-602-8650 or mrodriguez @sevenhills.org


 800-660-2868 or
register online:
If you would like an updated listing of child care centers and home child care providers in the First Connections catchment area, we can easily send that to you. The list includes programs that accept vouchers, as well as scholarship information for preschool.
Just email lmatthews@jri.org  
Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Support Group now held in Acton

Come share the rewards and challenges of raising your grandchildren. Learn from other grandparents and experts about legal strategies and practices. Discover ways to relieve the stress. Benefit from the resources available from the Commission on the Status of Grandparents Raising Grandchildren and hear about State agencies which can provide assistance. If you are interested in joining, contact Joe O'Leary at 978-760-0360 or j.j.oleary@comcast.net
Held on the 3rd Tuesday of each month, 11-12:00 at
Acton Senior Center
30 Sudbury Road, Rear
Public School Early Childhood Program Registration News



Kindergarten Info Night

Monday, January 8

7:00 p.m. 

High School Auditorium

General meeting for families with a child beginning kindergarten in September 2018. Online pre-registration for incoming kindergarten students begins  January 10.

Students need to be 5 by 9/1/18. Full schedules, sign-up, and important dates at:






Friday, January 26 by Appt.

 Bedford Public Schools is inviting children who will be 3 by 8/31/18 to a screening for possible enrollment in the Integrated Preschool. To schedule an appointment time call 781-275-1700 x4402 or email Stephanie_callahan





Wednesday, February 14

1:00-4:00 or 6:00-7:30

Kindergarten Screenings

March 26, 27 and 28

Kindergarten students need to be 5 by August 31, 2018.






January 9, 10 & 11 at 9:00

January 10 at 5:00

Registration is for children who will be 5 by September 1.





panel discussion for parents

Learn everything you need to know about getting your child ready for school!

Tuesday, January 23

6:30-8:30 pm

Loring School Auditorium

If your child will be 5 on/before 10/1/18 and you did not receive a kindergarten registration packet, contact 


Sudbury.k12.ma.us or call 978-639-3204





Monday, March 5, 6-8 p.m.

Tuesday, March 6, 9-12:00


Pupil Services Office:

 978-692-5560 x2111

Screenings take place in May 2018. Children must be 5 by September 1, 2018. 


Kindergarten Age Cut Offs for Additional Towns:     

Bedford: 5 by 8/31/18

Carlisle: 5 by 9/5/18

Concord: 5 by 8/31/18

Harvard: 5 by 9/1/18

Hanscom AFB: 5 by 9/30/18

Lincoln: 5 by 10/1/18

Free Museum Admission Days 

The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston

Monday, January 16

Saturday, February 4 



Worcester Art Museum

Sat, January 6, 10-12:00

Sat, Febuary 3, 10-12:00

Sat, March 3, 10-12:00


Family tour at 10:30 


Acton Discovery  Museum

Friday, January 5, 4:30-8

Friday, February 2, 4:30-8

Friday, March 2, 4:30-8 



Concord Museum

Sundays, January 7, 14*, 21, and 28, 1:00-4:00 p.m.

*includes "Hands-on-History" family program




As part of First Connections' in-progress community needs assessment we learned that in 10 of the 11 towns we serve less than half of eligible children are receiving WIC food benefits. Pregnant women and children under age 5 can receive free healthy food. A family of 4 can earn $45,510 and be eligible (pregnant women count as 2). To check your eligibility and learn where to sign up: 

Do You Have a Child with Special Needs?
If so, we urge you to subscribe to the following free newsletters which contain a wealth of information on programs and activities that your family may be interested in:
C.A.S.E. Community Newsletter:
  SPED Child Mass.


Sudbury Camp Fair

Sunday, January 21 


Lincoln-Sudbury H.S.

390 Lincoln Road Sudbury


It's hard to think about summer camp in January, but you can meet and speak with representatives from 80 summer camps for children entering Kindergarten through Grade 12 in one place by attending this event! Children welcome.

Admission is free.

 Sponsored by

Loring ElementarySchool PTO



   Doli Atamian
Campership Program
The campership program provides camp or summer school experiences for children of income-eligible families who reside in Acton or Boxborough. In 2017 a 2-member household would be eligible with an income of $55,800, or $62,750 for a household of 4. To request an application write to:
P.O. Box 693
Acton, MA 01720 or go to: 
Applications should be submitted with a $5 application fee between April 1 and June 30. Scholarships are limited to $250 per child and given on a first-come, first-serve basis. 
For information, call:  978-263-0131 after April 1st.  

The benefits of infant massage include achieving better sleep, improved symptoms of colic, relaxation, better digestion and strengthened bonds between parent and baby.

Community resources for infant massage taught by certified infant massage educators include:

Emerson Health & Wellness Center


Infant Massage & Motor Development (Tummy Time)

Level 1

Sat., Jan. 6, 10-11:00

Thurs., Feb. 1, 10-11:00

Sat., March 3, 10-11:00


Level 2

Sat., Jan. 20, 10-11:00

Thurs., Feb. 15, 10-11:00

Sat., March 17, 10-11:00


Ages 4 wks & older.

$20 for 2 caregivers and one child. Register at:



Lowell General Health & Wellness 


Infant Massage

Tues., March 20, 12:30-1:30

Ages 6 wks-1 year

$15 per family 

Register at:



Winter Free Parent Education Programs
Pre-registration is required: lmatthews@jri.org 
In addition to those listed here, be sure to check the "Community Events" section below for more topics!
We are extremely grateful to the staff of Emerson's Center for Rehabilitative and Sports Therapies, and Jessica Smith, for donating their time and expertise providing these workshops.

"Tummy Time" presented by Karen Vellieux, DPT
This program is geared toward parents of babies 0-6 months old. Tummy time can help your baby develop strong neck and shoulder muscles, and promote motor skills. What age should you begin? Why is it important? How long should you work on tummy time each day? How can you help a resistant baby tolerate it? Join us to listen and learn the answers to these and more questions. Infants welcome to attend with caregivers. 
Held during New Mothers Group on January 24, 1-2:30 p.m.
First Connections, Acton. Presentation begins at 1:00.

Communication Milestones for Babies
presented by Emma Hill, MS, CCC-SLP
Babies begin to communicate with their parents long before the attempt words. What does that look like in an infant, and how can parents and caregivers encourage reciprocal pre-language skills? Please join us to learn more. This program will focus on the first year of life.
Held during New Mothers Group on February 28, 1-2:30 p.m.
First Connections, Acton. Presentation begins at 1:00.

Sensory Play and Exploration
Facilitated by Chelsea Mello, OTR/L
. This program is geared to parents of 2 and 3 year olds. Sensory play has an important role in development. Sensory exploration is a child's way of examining, discovering, categorizing, and making sense of the world. Play with different types of textures, tasting and smelling objects builds your child's vocabulary and helps fine motor skills. Join us to learn more. Childcare will be provided for families enrolled in the Social-Emotional Skills Playgroup. Others may attend the talk but need to provide their own childcare. Infants 6 months and under welcome.
Tuesday, February 27, 10:00 a.m. at 
Concord Carousel Preschool, West Concord

Play-Based Language Development
Facilitated by Angela O'Hara, CCC-SLP
This program is geared to parents of 1-5 year olds. Play is the way children learn new skills, and language is one of the most important skills children learn while they play. The growth of language during preschool years leads to more complex and interactive imaginary play. Parents and caregivers will learn more about what they can do to build their child's vocabulary while playing simple games with their children. Childcare will be provided for families enrolled in Monday or Wednesday Read & Rise Multilingual Playgroups. Others may attend the presentation but will need to provide their own childcare. Infants 6 months and under welcome.
Monday, March 26, 10:00 a.m. at First Connections in Acton

Babywearing Demonstration
Presented by Jessica Smith, International Babywearing
Do you have a baby carrier but haven't mastered using it yet? Are you curious about what type of carrier you might be comfortable using? Jessica will bring a selection of carriers with her and she encourages you to bring any that you have but may need help with. Learn about safety, fit and positioning, and about activities you can participate in while babywearing. 
Held during New Mothers Group on Wednesday, March 14, 1-2:30
First Connections, Acton 

Week Raising Challenging Children Workshop
Facilitated by Patricia Marquis, LICSW
First Connections is partnering with the Center for Parents and Teachers to offer a free support and education group for parents of children age 3 to 6. "Challenging children" are often very bright and interested in many things. They may also be uncooperative and have a hard time with basic tasks such as mealtimes, dressing, and transitioning between activities. If you have read parenting books, been using ineffective discipline techniques, tried other seminars or groups, or are wondering if there's more going on with your child than his peers, then this workshop may be helpful. Please read the full description of this program by clicking on "Challenging Child Workshop" at:
This program will begin in March pending grant funding from CHNA 15.. Parents who would like to attend will be sent a questionnaire to fill out for the facilitator's review. If the group is not a good match for you we will give you other resources and strategies that may help. Please email lmatthews@jri.org to be sent the questionnaire. Each parent attending will be asked to fill one out. A commitment to the full 6 weeks is required. 

First Year of Life Support Programs


NEW LOCATION:  New Mothers Support Group

Any mother with a pre-crawling baby is welcome to attend this ongoing weekly support group facilitated by Emerson Hospital and First Connections. This open discussion group is a forum for you to share experiences and resources, connect with other new mothers, and seek guidance about any concerns you might have. Facilitators are certified in lactation support and special topics occur monthly. No registration required. Every Wednesday, 1-2:30 p.m.

Beginning January 3 this group will meet at First Connections, 179 Great Road, #104A, Acton


First-Time Mothers Group

6-week, small-group setting includes a different topic each week such as: adjusting to your new role, changes in relationships, work/family life balance, sleeping, feeding, crying and infant development. Emerson Center for Sports Rehab & Specialty Services provides our quarterly motor development guest speaker, Mary Evans, DPT, MA, who is a pediatric and neurological specialist. 

Begins January 22, 1-2:30 p.m. in Littleton

Begins March 12, 1-2:30 p.m. in Carlisle (pending confirmation) 


Emotional Wellbeing After Baby Group

Emotional challenges are the most common complication of pregnancy and childbirth, yet mothers often feel isolated and ashamed if they are struggling. Mothers experiencing anxiety or depression in the postpartum year can come together in this supportive, nonjudgmental, confidential group to share stories and learn from each other. While this is an ongoing, weekly group, before attending for the first time please contact the facilitator, Heather O'Brien, LICSW at hobrien@jri.org or 978-429-8284, ext. 219. Childcare can be provided for older siblings with advance notice. Every Thursday, 10:00-11:30 a.m. at First Connections, 179 Great Road, Acton  


New Dads Group

Our new dads group allows dads to make connections with other fathers, ask questions, and share their experiences of parenthood. Adjusting to the new work/life balance and changes in relationships with friends, family and partners can sometimes be a challenge! Fathers are welcome to attend with or without babies and continue to attend the group for as long as it is helpful. Please email lmatthews@jri.org before attending for the first time so we have your contact information in case of any last-minute changes. Facilitated by Heather O'Brien, LICSW. 

Tuesdays, January 9, February 13, March 13, 7:00-8:30 p.m. at Maynard Public Library, 77 Nason Street. 

New playgroups begin the week of January 8. Registration is required for all groups: lmatthews@jri.org. No fees. Children may be registered for one multi-week group. All groups require participation of a parent or caregiver. Registration begins as soon as you receive your newsletter. Please let us know your child's first name and age, and the name of the person who will bring him/her to playgroup.

First Connections Playgroups will begin updated cell phone usage rules starting January 1st.
We are asking parents and caregivers to NOT have their cell phones on their person during the 60-90 minutes they are interacting with their children in our playgroup. If you must use/answer/check your phone during that time, please do so outside of the play area. We know it has become commonplace to take photos and videos of almost every aspect of our lives these days, but participating in our playgroup does not allow anyone, even inadvertently, to record an image of another person in the group. We understand that parents whose caregivers attend the playgroup are curious about what their child may be doing, but video recording is not acceptable or allowed in our programs. Please focus on our time together and take a break from technology.  
Baby Playgroup: Group includes developmental discussions and handouts, playtime, circle time with finger plays, rhymes and songs. Based on the Parents Interacting with Infants model. Open to parents residing in any town. Appropriate for all babies 3-9 months, and babies 10-11 months who are not actively crawling on January 11.
Appropriate for ages 3-11
 Months on January 11
Held at Sargent Memorial Library, Boxborough
Thursdays, 10:30-11:30 a.m. 
Young Toddler Literacy Playgroup:  This group will have free play time at the beginning, and stories and songs at the end. The facilitator will be available to talk to and answer questions, but we won't have the same structured adult talking time as in the infant group because the children are starting to move around and sitting still for more than a few minutes is too much to ask! Based on the Parents Interacting With Infants model. 
Appropriate for ages 10-20 months if crawling or walking
Held at First Parish Church, Bedford Center
Wednesdays, 1:30-2:30 p.m.
Toddler Art-Literacy Group for 1 Year Olds: This group is for confidently-walking toddlers and will include free play in a preschool classroom with time to work on social skills such as sharing and waiting for a turn. Circle and story time, as well as some art and sensory activities which may be messy or wet will be included, so don't wear your best clothes! Reading Rockets handouts will help continue learning at home. 
Appropriate for 12-23 Mos. if walking independently
Held at Village Nursery School in Harvard
Fridays, 10:00-11:00 a.m.
Multilingual Families Playgroup
A child's primary language and culture are key contributors to lifelong development. This playgroup is specifically for families who are conversing in a language other than English as part of their family culture and daily life. The group will include a Read &  Rise monthly parent discussion topic, led by a parent educator, centering on how culture, traditions, and everyday fun family experiences can help parents foster their child's literacy and language development. Each family will bring a bag of books home to borrow for the week. Families should bring a snack for their child. During registration please let us know if your child has any anaphylactic allergies to foods. Baby siblings in carriers welcome.  
Appropriate for Ages 18 Months thru 5 
Held at First Connections in Acton
Mondays 10-11:30 or Wednesdays 9:30-11:00 a.m. 

Social and Emotional Skills Playgroup for 2 & 3 Year Olds
This playgroup will use the Mass. Early Learning Standards and Approaches to Play and Learning for Social and Emotional Development. The group will include free play, a weekly learning activity, snack time, story and circle time. Please bring a snack and inform us during registration if your child has an anaphylactic food allergy.
Appropriate for Ages 2 thru 3 on 1/9/17
Held at Concord Carousel Preschool in West Concord
Tuesdays, 9:30-11:00 a.m.

Preschooler STEAM Playgroup 
STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math. We will explore materials and activities in these areas of learning, encouraging children to try new things and learn through exploration and play. Themes are from EEC's Resources for Early Learning: STEM. Some activities may be messy, so be sure not to wear your nicest clothes!  
Appropriate for ages 3 thru 5
Held at Westford Preschool at St. Marks 
T uesdays, 1:30-2:30 p.m.

Sing & Play in Spanish Group
This playgroup is for parents and children who already speak or understand Spanish. All songs, stories and conversation will be in Spanish. Facilitated by EXCELLENT parent volunteers! Please register to receive a monthly reminder and notification of any weather-related changes.
Appropriate for ages 1 thru 5 with a Spanish-speaking caregiver
Held at  First Connections in Acton
Fridays, 1:30-3:00 p.m., January 19, February & March TBD

Come join Concord Family Network and Concord Children's Center for a public book group for babies ages 0-24 months on 3 Saturdays this winter. This book group is for babies and toddlers with their parents or caregivers, and will include tips on fostering a lifelong love of reading. Free play begins at 10:00 with story and circle time following at 10:30. All dates will meet at Concord Children's Center, 1300 Main St., Concord. Please RSVP to Lynda at lyndaferrari@gmail.com or via Big Tent if you are a CFN member. In the event of severe inclement weather we will post updates on our website ( www.concordfamilynetwork.org ) and Facebook account, and notify RSVP's by email.
February 3, March 3 and March 31, 2018 

Support & Education Topics

"Raising Boys in the Digital Age"  presented March 20, 7 pm at the Waldorf School.  Child Psychologist  Anthony Rao, who is the author of The Way of Boys: Promoting the Social and Emotional Development of Young Boys,    
will speak on this important topic at 739 Mass. Ave., Lexington. Free.

"Basics of Infant Feeding" will be presented on Fridays, January 19 or March 30 by Abigail Brayton-Chung, OTR/L and Marahu Falcon George, CCC-SLP. The class will cover typical feeding development, types of foods and when to introduce them, how to offer new food and what to expect, baby-led weaning, red flags for feeding disorders, recipe suggestions, more. To register: 978-287-3777 or www.emersonwellness.org. Held in Concord. $30/1, $50/2. 

"Understanding and Supporting Infant Sleep Workshop for Parents and Caregivers of Infants Aged 4-15 Months" will be presented by Teresa Stewart, MS, MPH. at The Freedman Center in Newton on Monday, March 5, 6:00-8:30 p.m. $50/1, $90/2. Presentation includes setting realistic sleep expectations, introducing a bedtime routine, establishing a nap schedule, when to wean off night feedings, encouraging longer stretches of sleep, and how to help an infant sleep in other locations. Overview of popular sleep strategies, and time for questions. Info: 617-332-3666. Register online: www.williamjames.edu/community/freedman-center/sleep.cfm

Free 3-Week "Active Parenting 1, 2, 3, 4" Workshop 
This basic parenting skills workshop is perfect for new or seasoned parents and includes ages & stages of development, building parent-child bonds, discipline skills, tips on avoiding accidents and problems, choices and consequences, the power or encouragement and caring for the caregiver. Lunch is included. Held Fridays, 11:30-1:00, March 2, 9 & 16. Register:
https:www.lowellgeneral.org/health-and-wellness/health-and-wellness-programs/parenting-classes/active-parenting-1-2-3-4/03-02-2018 or call 877-LGH-Well. Held at Lowell General Hospital's Hanchett Auditorium. 

"Basic Rights Workshop for Parents of Children with Special Needs" presented January 25, 7-9:00 pm. Presentation informs parents of their child's educational rights under Mass. and Federal laws. Location in Groton or Dunstable was not posted at press time:    https://gdsepac.wordpress.com/calendar/lecture-series  

Sibshop for Ages 8-11 who have Younger Siblings with Special Needs
Children in this workshop will meet other kids and talk about the good and not-so-good parts of having a sibling with special needs, play games, learn about the services their siblings receive, learn how other brothers and sisters handle sticky situations, and have fun. Held at Simply Social Kids in Tyngsboro. $25 per sibling. Saturday, January 13, 5:00-6:30 p.m. 
Registration ends December 29 at www.simplysocialkids.com 

"Dogs & Storks" presented by Lisa Bert of Family Paws Parent Education
Ease into the transition from being a pet parent to a parent with pets in this internationally acclaimed presentation which addresses concerns and provides options for people who are or will be caring for babies and dogs together. Great for anyone pregnant, expecting an adopted child, with a child 4 months and younger, or just planning ahead. Help your 4-legged members of the family feel more comfortable with changes already happening in their lives. Held Monday, April 9, 6:00-8:00 p.m. at Lowell General Hospital. Register at https://www.lowellgeneral.org/health-and-wellness/health-and-wellness-programs/getting-ready-for-your-baby/dogs-and-storks 

American Red Cross Babysitter Training Program will be held at Middlesex Community College in Bedford on School Vacation Week, February 20-22, 9 am to 12:30 pm. Appropriate for ages 11-15. Contact Lauren Ellis for more info: 781-280-3669, career_training@middlesex.mass.edu 

Emerson Babysitter Training Class for Ages 10-13 will be held on January 20, February 24 and March 24 in Concord. $50. www.emersonwellness.org 
Infant CPR Anytime Class at Emerson Hospital
Practice skills needed to perform infant CPR and relieve choking. Includes kit to use at home for future practice. January 9, February 13 or March 13, 6:30-8:00. Register at:   www.emersonwellness.org

Soon-to-be-Grandparents Class at Emerson Hospital
Learn about sleep positions, tummy time, car seats and rules that barely existed 30 years ago. Retired labor & delivery nurse will also cover how to support and accept decisions that your children make, and infant care.
January 25 or March 22, 7:00-9:00 p.m.  www.emersonwellness.org  

OCD Massachusetts Speaker Series,  www.ocdmassachusetts.org 
"Medications for OCD and Related Disorders" presented January 9, 7-8 pm
Speaker will be Jennifer Barnes, M.D.

"Treating OCD During the Perinatal Years: Pregnancy, Postpartum and Beyond" presented March 6, 7-8 pm. Speaker will be Lauren Brown, Psy.D.
Above topics held at McLean Hospital's DeMarneffe Cafeteria Bldg., Room 132, Belmont. Free, no registration. 

"The Role of Family Accommodation: How to Support Your Child When They Need You Most"
presented February 9, 6-7 pm. Speaker will be Ryan Glode, LMHC from McLean Hospital. Held at U. Mass. Medical School's Lazare Auditorium (Room S1-607), 55 Lake Avenue North, Worcester.
Schedule changes posted at: www.ocdmassachusetts.org 

Acton-Boxborough Schools Family Learning Series
"Attunement & Somatic Regulation: A Body-Based Approach Toward Increasing Understanding and Resilience"
presented February 6, 7-8:30 pm
Speaker is Heather Finn, LICSW, held at ABRHS Auditorium

"The Missing Medicine: Listening as a Practice in Healing and Transformation"
presented March 7, 7-8:30 pm. Speaker is author Andrew Forsthoefel. Held at RJ Grey Middle School Auditorium

Westford Parent Connection Speaker Series
"Birth Order: How Your Place in the Family Affects Your View of the World"
presented February 27 (snow date 2/28/18) Speaker is Jack Agati, former school counselor and college educator. 

"Thinking in an Organized Way: Executive Function Strategies"
presented March 6. Speaker is Sarah Ward, MS, CCC-SLP. 
Both take place at Stony Brook Middle School in Westford at 7:00 p.m. Free.

The Loved Child Parenting Center Programs
Register at:  https://thelovedchild.net, 173 Belmont St., Belmon
"Toilet Training with Tender Loving Care," presented January 11, 7-9 pm
Wondering if your child is ready, which potty chair to use, whether to use pull-ups or underwear, or if you should use a rewards system? This program will address all these common questions and more. Taught by Jennifer Gillette, MA,  $30.90/1 or $51.50/2. 
"Supporting Sibling Relationships" will include how best to introduce the new baby, tools to prevent sibling rivalry and jealousy, strategies to build sibling bonding, how to coach young children to communicate strong feelings, decrease competition and fights, and how best to intervene during challenging moments. P resented on February 7, 7-9:00 p.m., by Jennifer Gillette, MA, $30.90/1 or $51.80/2. 
"An Overview of Positive Discipline." Are you struggling to manage your child's behavior? Is this affecting your relationships? With so many parenting approaches, how do you choose the best option for you and your child? Alexis Davis, LICSW, will introduce the key components to developing a positive discipline plan. Presented on February 12, 6:30-9:00 p.m. $30.90/1, $56.65/2.


"INSPIRE Free 6-Week Parent Support Group for Parents of Children Aged 4-9 with Special Needs" will begin January 22, 9:30-11:00 a.m. in Concord
Patty Marquis, LICSW, will lead the group which offers parents strategies to help them meet the unique challenges they face on a daily basis. Full description at www.centerforparentsandteachers.org.  To register:

6-Week New Dads Group at The Freedman Center in Newton
Offers dads an opportunity to ask questions, learn skills, share experiences of fatherhood and make new friends. Groups are led by experienced male facilitators in a supportive child-friendly environment. Meets Thursdays from 7-8:30 p.m. Begins January 11. Call 617-332-3666 x1123 or register online: www.williamjames.edu/community/freedman-center 

Adoption Supports Groups at Adoption Associates in Newton Highlands
For all groups, contact Sarah Spinello, sara@adoptionassociates.org or 617-965-9369. Adoption groups are a safe place to process experiences and feelings related to adoption. Groups use expressive arts and team building games for children and teens. Adult groups offer mutual support and sharing with the benefit of having an adoption-competent therapist as the facilitator. Most groups meet once per month and include: Parents of teens, high-risk teens, or children adopted at an older age; as well as a teenage girls group and elementary-aged children group for adoptees. 

Free Adoptive Families Together Support Group held Monthly in Maynard
Facilitated group includes parents who have adopted children of all ages, races, domestically, and internationally, placed with family members and children with special needs. Parents/guardians at any stage of the adoption process are welcome. Meets on the 3rd Tuesday of each month, 7:30-9:00 p.m. at Maynard Public Library, 77 Nason Street. kristy.bouley@gmail.com   

Community Happenings - Parent & Child
Family Holiday Singalong at Indian Hill Music School, Littleton
Sing, dance, play and meet Santa and Mrs. Claus at this free community event led by three faculty members who facilitate programs for children. Free snacks, and coffee for parents. Doors open at 9:45.
S aturday, December 16, 10:00-12:00www.indianhillmusic.org

Bessie's New Years Eve Celebration at the Discovery Museum in Acton will include making party hats and noise makers. There will be a DJ to add to the festivities in Discovery Woods for a "bundled up pajama dance party." Activities free with admission ($12.50 ea. ages 1 and up). Half price with library pass. Sunday, December 31, 10-12:00. New Years countdown begins at 11:45 am. www.discoverymuseums.org 
Noon Years Eve at the Ecotarium in Worcester will happen from 10-4:00 with countdowns at 12:00 and 2:00. Make a 2017 time capsule among other activities. December 26-31 is also Animal Superheroes Week (capes not required but you're welcome to wear one!). Activities free with admission ($18 adult, $14 ages 2-18). Half price with library pass. Sunday, December 31, www.ecotarium.org  . 

Drawbridge Puppets present "The Nutcracker" in December*, and
"Three Billy Goats Bluff" and "The Frog Prince" in January
Shows are presented on Saturdays and Sundays, 10:00 & 12:00. This puppet theater is located at 1335 Mass. Ave., Lunenburg and you can reserve seats at 978-582-1578 or online: www.drawbridgepuppets.com $7 per person. *December 24 includes a magic show; closed December 31.
Gifts for the Birds at Fruitlands in Harvard on Saturday, December 30
Make pinecone bird feeders for your feathered friends. Then decorate trees on the hillside or take them home for your own trees. No registration required. Activity takes place from 1-3:00. The activity is free with admission, and admission is free with a library pass available in all of our catchment towns
except Sudbury and Bedford. www.fruitlands.thetrustees.org 

CYT's Playtime Theater for Ages 2-9 on Saturday Mornings at 10:30
Perfect length plays for ages 2-9 held at 358 Baker Avenue, West Concord.
Tickets are $5 at the door. Winter schedule is as follows:
January 6: Jack & The Beanstock
January 20: The Tortoise & The Hare
February 3: Cinderella
February 17: The Little Mermaid
March 3: The Gruffalo
March 17: Rumplestilskin
March 31: The Very Hungry Caterpillar

"Disney's  Beauty and the Beast" at Wheelock Family Theater
Weekend matinee performances at 2:00 take place from February 4 thru March 4. Appropriate for ages 6 and up.  https://wheelockfamilytheatre.org  

"Cinderella" at Open Door Theater in Acton March 16-25
Open Door Theater is an inclusive community theater company. The theater is located in West Acton. Tickets will be available at: http://opendoortheater.org