Free Fall Parent Workshops
To attend any parent education program, email: lmatthews@jri.org
Behavior is Communication - 3 Surprising Reasons Your Child Won't Listen
presented by Kathy Whitham, R.N.
You want your child to listen and you want your child to talk to you. Gaining a deeper understanding of the language your child uses to communicate is crucial to getting through to your child and building a solid foundation for connection and communication throughout their development. In this 1 hour Webinar, you’ll discover 3 surprising reasons that get in the way of communication with your child (and learn the science behind them). You’ll also gain practical strategies to help you avoid yelling to be heard, and be the parent your child talks to. Includes at least 20 minutes for interaction around your questions.
Kathy Whitham, RN, is a Parenting Coach, Child Behavior Specialist, Mom, Grammy and poet. She helps parents and caregivers understand what’s happening with their child and learn to respond rather than react to button-pushing behaviors.
Kathy's No-Yell™ parenting approach promotes deep connection and communication and lies at the intersection of brain science, attachment theory, inter-generational family dynamics and parents’ inner wisdom. Find out more: Parenting Beyond Words.

Held virtually Tuesday, Sept. 28, 6:30 p.m.
Screens and Parenting Toddlers and Preschoolers
presented by Adrienne Principe, Founder & Executive Director of Turning Life On by Keeping Tech in Check
Parenting in the digital world is overwhelming and complicated, especially today as we cope with an ongoing pandemic. We strive for balance in our own lives while trying to balance screens and technology in the lives of our children. What can we do to ensure our children are developing the necessary “soft skills,” like resilience, cooperation, independence, and curiosity, to be successful in school and in the future? And how does technology interfere with the development of these skills? Join us for a presentation and discussion to discover why successful balance of technology is essential for living healthier, fuller lives. This event is for parents with young children (0-5)Turning Life On is a local non-profit grassroots movement committed to digital wellness and improving the lives of families through healthy and balanced technology use. As a certified Child and Teen Coach, Adrienne has a clear understanding of the latest research regarding technology and child development, and works with parents, educators and community leaders to bring thoughtful strategies for achieving digital wellness into homes and schools. She is the co-founder of Concord Promise and a member of the Screens in Schools Working Group for the Children’s Screen Time Action Network. Adrienne is also a presenter for the Massachusetts Partnership for Youth and a regular contributor for the Family Online Safety Institute Good Digital Parenting Blog. She has been interviewed by the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and other news outlets, organization and digital wellness groups. 
Held Tuesday, October 5, 7:00 pm at First Connections
This program will be held at First Connections in Acton. Masks are required, chairs will be spaced out, and air cleaners will be in use. In the event of COVID restrictions increasing, the program will be held virtually. We will assume that you are comfortable attending either presentation format unless you let us know you will not attend either the in-person or virtual presentations in order to assist us with planning.
CAREing for our Littlest Learners
presented by Jacquelyn Kraps, Ph.D.
CARE, or Child-Adult Relationship Enhancement, is a set of tools meant to be used by parents, daycare workers, and anyone else who interacts with young children. It is an evidence-based practice that involves two main components:
  1. Increasing the positive relationship between children and caregivers
  2. Increasing adults' use of effective commands
These techniques can yield immediate positive behavioral responses from kiddos ages 2 and up, and is backed by research, professionals, and parents alike!
Held Tuesday, Nov. 2, 6:30 p.m., virtually
Dr. Kraps is the Clinical Director of Outpatient Services for the Metrowest Area at Justice Resource Institute. She is a specialist in early childhood trauma, developmental disabilities, and LBGTQ-related topics.
Talking with Young Children about Race and Racism
Virtual live webinar with Ellie Springer, M.Ed.

For the past 30 years, segments of American culture have responded to racism with a goal of being "color-blind" and not talking about race. This is a tactic followed by many white parents in an attempt to combat racism. Studies now show, however, that this response is actually ineffective and harmful. Creating taboos around noticing or discussing race, ability, physical differences, or cultural customs is counterproductive. Racist ideas are pervasive in our society and children pick up on subtle messages all around them. In order to begin to change entrenched biases in our society, we need to explicitly talk about race and racism with children from the beginning. That can feel scary and difficult. What if I say something wrong? How do I even start a conversation about such a heavy topic with my little kid?

In this discussion, Ellie will share some tips about how to talk about race and racism with young children in age-appropriate ways. She will attempt to answer your questions and share lists of children's books and websites for further adult learning. Ellie wants participants to know that, as a white female, she can only give her perspective as a white person with expertise in early childhood development. Like many of you, she is still on her own journey of learning to better understand racism and how she can be an effective advocate for people of color and welcoming to the broad spectrum of people within our communities. All caregivers are welcome.
Co-sponsoredby Westford Special Education Parents' Forum and open to all.
Held November 18, 7:00 p.m. virtually
Fall Storywalks
This Project was funded through a Building Racial Equity grant by CHNA 15, and was made possible by Determination of Need Funds received from Lahey Hospital and Medical Center and Winchester Hospital.
Download or view our "Talking to Young Children About Race" compilation on our website
Saturday by Oge Mora
September 18-26
Codman Farm, 58 Codman Road, Lincoln
Mother and daughter look forward to their special Saturday routine together every week. But this week, one thing after another goes wrong. Mom is nearing a meltdown until her daughter reminds her that being together is the most important thing.
Take home information about the author who is also the illustrator! Buy eggs from the farm's chickens!
The path will lead to Codman Estate - the grounds are open to the public with beautiful gardens and llamas!
Join Sarah Bishop for a "Sugar Shack Storytime" at Codman Farm from 3-3:45 on Wednesday, Sept. 22nd. Be ready to laugh! Drop-in, no registration required.
Fry Bread by Kevin Noble Maillard
October 9-17
Assabet River Rail Trail, 138 Winter Street, Maynard pending September 8 Select Board approval
Celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day by taking a walk while reading this story about a modern Native American family written by a member of the Seminole Nation. This multiple-award-winning book depicts generations of family and friends sharing culture and traditional meals together. Take home the fry bread recipe, and background historical information for parents.
Same, Same but Different
by Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw
October 30-November 7
Castle in the Trees, 300 King Street, Littleton
In honor of the November 4th Indian holiday of Diwali, enjoy this storywalk about pen pals from America and India who find out how their lives are similar and different in a collage-style colorfully illustrated book. Take home resources and activity suggestions to keep learning.
Fall Playgroup Schedule
To register for any group, please email lmatthews@jri.org. If this is the first time you are registering, please let us know what town you live in. We appreciate your respecting the minimum ages for groups

Mask policy for all groups: All First Connections staff members will wear masks during groups, and in order for everyone to feel more comfortable with children playing together and getting close to one another, everyone age 2 and up should wear a mask to playgroup.

All in-person outdoor groups move to Zoom in inclement weather.

Language and Literacy Playgroup for Multilingual Families Ages 1 1/2-5 Years 
Held on Mondays 10:00-11:00 Outdoors at 360 Mass Ave, Acton, September 20-November 22 (not October 11)
Held on Wednesdays 2:00-3:00, at Bedford Public Library, September 22-November 24
These groups are for families who speak a language other than, or in addition to, English as part of their daily life. We will read different versions of fairy tales, learn nursery rhymes, and share traditional stories and rhymes from families' home languages and cultures. Group includes a circle time with songs and a book, and activities related to the week's story. If this is your first time registering, please let us know the language you speak at home. Bring a blanket or chairs to sit on.

Little Learners Playgroup for Hanscom Air Force Base Families
Tuesdays, 10:00-11:00, softball field across the street from Hanscom Youth Center, 98 Marrett St.
For mobile babies thru 5 years
September 21, 28, October 5, 12, 19, November 2, 9 (not October 26)
We will have a circle time with songs and a book, activities, and free play time for the children to interact with one another. Come see old friends and make new ones! Bring a blanket or chairs to sit on. Open to all families who have access to HAFB.

Social Emotional Skills Playgroup for Ages 3-5 Years
Wednesdays 10:00-11:00 at Sargent Memorial Library, Boxborough, Sept. 22-Nov. 24
Social and emotional skills are key to children's success in school and life. In this group, we will read books about emotions, making friends, sharing, etc., do activities to encourage the development of these skills, and have time for children to play with one another. Bring a blanket or chairs to sit on the grass outside. Infant and toddler siblings are welcome but need to be carefully supervised as we may be using toys with small pieces

Gross Motor Playgroup for Ages 24-36 Months
Thursdays 10:00-11:00, Trinitarian Congregational Church, 54 Walden St., Concord (not Nov. 4)
We will meet on a fenced-in playground and have time to play on the playground structure, practice skills like throwing balls, kicking, jumping, etc., and have a circle time with songs and a story.
Infant siblings in a carrier are welcome. September 23-November 18.

Gross Motor Playgroup for Ages 12-24 Months
Fridays 10:00-11:00, Village Nursery School, 40 Poor Farm Rd., Harvard
We will meet on a fenced-in, grassy, toddler playground area and have time to run, throw and kick balls, scoop sand, etc., and have a circle time with songs and a story. Bring a blanket to sit on.
Infant siblings in a carrier welcome. September 24-November 19.

Fall Fun and Games Playgroup
Meets via Zoom on Mondays, Sept. 20-Nov. 22, 2-3:00 p.m., for children ages 1-5
For those families who are not able to or not comfortable with joining an in-person playgroup, this group will be exclusively virtual. We will sing songs, play games, read books, and share our observations of the changing seasons. We will also share ideas of activities to do with children outside of playgroup time.
(Please note, we need a minimum of 7 families to register in order to run this group.)
New Parent Programs - Newborn to 12 Months
New Mothers Group - Every Wednesday, 1-2:30
Anyone who identifies as a mother with a pre-crawling baby is welcome to attend this ongoing weekly drop-in group facilitated by Early Childhood Educator Lactation Counselor and Infant Massage Teacher Mary Beilman. This open discussion group is a forum for you to share experiences and resources, connect with other new mothers, learn about your baby's developmentand seek guidance about any concerns you might have. Currently being held virtually via zoom. Email mbeilman@jri.org for the link. This group will NOT meet on September 22.

New Dads Group - Held Monthly on Tuesdays, 7:30-9:00
Our New Dads Group is a peer-led group, facilitated by two experienced dads. This group allows dads to make connections, ask questions, learn about child development, and share their experiences of parenthood. Adjusting to a new identity as a parent along with the changes in relationships with friends, family and partners can sometimes be a challenge. Fathers are welcome to attend with/without babies and continue to attend the group for as long as it is helpful. This group is geared toward fathers with babies 0-12 months. We are LGBTQ+ friendly and welcome any person who identifies as a father. Please email hobrien@jri.org before attending to receive the connecting link for this currently-virtual group. Meets September 14, October 12, November 9, December 14

Older Babies Parent Group - Wednesdays, 10-11:30
This virtual group is for parents whose babies are moving out of the newborn stage, beginning to move independently and eat a wider variety of foods. You may have different questions than parents who are in the "4th trimester." Your baby should be a minimum of 5 months and a maximum of 11 months at the start of this group. Weekly attendance is expected unless you notify us that you are unable to make it in case we have a wait list. This group requires registration for the Fall semester by emailing lmatthews@jri.org. Meets Sept. 22 thru Dec 15, 10-11:30 a.m.

Gross Motor Development in the First 12 months
Presented virtually by a pediatric physical therapist from Emerson Hospital's
Clough Family Center for Rehabilitative and Sports Therapies
Wednesday, September 29, 10:00 a.m.
Email lmatthews@jri.org to be included in this presentation webinar which will cover typical motor development in babies from birth to 12 months. Learn how you can support your baby in reaching their milestones. If you are registering for Older Babies Parent Group you will automatically be included in this discussion.
Emotional Wellbeing After Baby
0-12 Months: Every Thursday, 9:30-11 (New Time)
Now offering a second group!
12-24 Months: Thursdays, 1:30-3:00 8-wk. session
September 9 thru October 28
Emotional challenges are the most common complication of pregnancy and childbirth, yet parents often feel isolated and ashamed if they are struggling. Parents 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 receiving coping strategies and skills. The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly increased the rates of anxiety and depression among pregnant and postpartum parents. For this reason we are expanding our support group to offer an additional 8-week session for parents of babies 12-24 months this Fall.
Before participating for the first time, please contact the facilitator, Heather O'Brien, LICSW, so she can send you the connecting zoom link. Our office maintains an extensive list of mental health providers and support groups for postpartum depression and anxiety. For assistance in finding a counselor or a support group that fits your schedule, or to speak with Heather about specific concerns related to postpartum depression or anxiety, email Heather O'Brien
Funding for these groups provided by
The Nordblum Family Foundation and Sage Therapeutics
Fall Community Parent Support & Education
Virtual Parenting Workshops thru The Loved Child, Belmont Full information here
4th Trimester Parents & Infants 0-6 months 6-week group, Sundays beginning September 12, 1-2:00, $145
Newborn Sleep Workshop for babies 0-3 months, October 14 at 1:00, $35
Baby & Toddler "Fall Asleep Independently" Workshop for 4-18 months, November 11 at 1:00, $35
Peaceful Parenting, an Evidence-Based Approach, September 9 or December 7, 7-8:30 pm, $35
Supporting Sibling Relationships, November 2, 7-8:30 pm, $35
Toddlers 101: Hurting behaviors, whining, tantrums and not listening, Aug. 31 or Nov. 16, 7-8:30, $35

Discovery Museum Speaker Series Fall Virtual Events, held 7:00-8:30 p.m. Register Here
Youth Voices in Climate Change with Varshini Prakash, Founder of Sunrise Movement, September 23
An Empowered Life for Children with Disabilities with Sara Minkara, Founder of Empowerment through Integration, October 21

FREE Mindfulness Meditation Zoom Class
Mindfulness meditation can help reduce stress, relieve symptoms of anxiety and depression, and live a more present life. Acton Dept. of Public Health is offering a weekly class led by Erin LoPorto to help offset the increased stress and uncertainty during the ongoing pandemic. Held on Mondays at 10:00, from September 13 thru November 15. Funded through a grant from CHNA15. Register Here

Virtual LGBTQ New Parent Group (FREE)
is held on the last Tuesday of each month through LGBTQ Birth, 1-2:30 pm. Register here

Virtual Parent Groups Held by the Center for Early Relationship Support (FREE)
If you have any questions, email dgardner@jfcsboston.org or Website Information
Fragile Beginnings for parents of babies who've spent time in the NICU, Tuesdays, 12-1:00, Register Here
Parents of Multiples meets on Wednesdays from 3-4:30. Email for Fall group information
Newly Adoptive Parents of babies under 12 mos. meets on Fridays from 10-11:30. Register Here
Parents of Toddlers (1-3 yrs) meets from 1-2:30 on Wednesdays. Register Here

Parents Helping Parents Support Groups (FREE)
Facilitated virtual groups allow parents to get advice, give feedback, and find resources to help you manage day-to-day parenting challenges. Specialty groups include Single Parents, Parent Connection Evening Groups, Lunch & Learn, and those working with the Department of Children & Families. Information Page

Family to Family 8-Week Support Program & 6-Week NAMI Basics (FREE)
This educational class for family and friends of individuals living with a mental health condition is evidence based and includes local resources, communication techniques, problem-solving, coping and self-care skills for caregivers. Offered this Fall in two sessions. Information Here
Via Zoom September 16-November 14, 6:30-9:00 pm
In person in Littleton with proof of vaccination October 12-November 30, 6:30-9 pm
NAMI Basics for parents/caregivers of children and adolescents with emotional or behavioral issues is also FREE and offered on demand. Link Here

Infant and Pregnancy Loss Support Group (FREE)
This ongoing 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. The group is facilitated by an advanced practice nurse with experience supporting families whose pregnancies have ended unexpectedly or whose infants have died. Individuals are encouraged to contact the facilitator, Katie Stockman, NP, at katie@kstockmannp.com or 617-299-1533 for the connecting zoom link.
September 13, October 11, November 8 and December 13, 6:30-8:00 p.m.

Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Support Group in Acton (FREE)
Come share the rewards and challenges of raising your grandchildren. Learn from and support others in similar circumstances. Discover ways to relieve 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 this group, which meets on the 3rd Tuesday of each month, 11-12:00, at 30 Sudbury Road (Acton Senior Center), contact Joe O'Leary at 978-760-0360 or j.j.oleary@comcast.net. For additional statewide resources, workshops, & evening groups, contact colleen.pritoni@state.ma.us, 617-748-2454. All programs are FREE of charge. Fall statewide webinars will include Understanding Adverse Childhood Experiences, Special Education Advocacy, and The Impact of Parental Substance Use Disorder on Children.

Adoption Journeys Monthly Support Group (FREE)
Every month this professionally-facilitated group for adoptive parents meets virtually for support, education, and connection. Periodic guest speakers, family events and a bi-monthly newsletter are additional benefits of registering. To find out more or join this group, email Child & Family Services, Christina Zalaket
Free & Low-Cost Community Parent & Child Programs
Free Sensory Friendly Day at Drumlin Farm - August 30, Sept. 13 and 20
For families with a child with autism or other sensory-sensitive needs. The sanctuary will be closed to the public, nature guides available, ADA-accessible paths. 3:30-5 p.m. on August 30 or September 20. Also available on September 13 from 10-1:00 Registration required: Here

Free Saturday Author Visit Storytimes at Silver Unicorn Bookstore, 12 Spuce St, Acton
You are a Reader! You are a Writer! with April Jones Price, September 18, 10:00 outside
When Langston Dances with Kaija Langley, September 25, 10:00 outside
In case Covid-19 necessitates a switch to virtual, Check Here

Free Admission to Discovery Museum, Acton, for Everyone on First Fridays!
October 1, November 5, December 3, 4:30-7:30 p.m.
Free Especially for Me Days at Discovery Museum, Acton
Registration is required for limited head counts in the museum for each date: Here
Any family with a developmental disability: October 24, 3-4:30 p.m.
Families with a child on the autism spectrum: September 19 or December 5, 3-4:30 p.m.
Families with a child or adult who is deaf or hard of hearing: September 26 or November 21, 3-4:30 p.m.

Concord Conservatory of Music Open House Demo Classes
Join CCM for Discovery Day which includes an instrument petting zoo and free demo classes for ages 3-7 at 1:30 or ages 8-13 at 2:30. Held at 1317 Main Street, Concord on September 11 from 1-3:00. If you'd like to participate in a free demo class, Register Here

Free 4-week In-Person Baby Massage Class at Concord Library
Join Sheryl White of Baby Kneads for a baby massage class outdoors in the Sudbury Road Garden, 129 Main Street, Concord Center. Limited to 12, held 10:30-11:30, beginning September 7. Register Here

Free Open Farmyard at Land's Sake Farm, 90 Wellesley St., Weston
Weekly stories, picking, planting, and chicken coop exploration held in the education garden. Geared to ages 2 1/2 to 7. Weather-dependent; pre-register to secure your space on the day you'd like to attend, Here
Held Wednesdays 3-5 pm and Saturdays 9-11 am thru October 27.

Free Letter-of-the-Week Programs this Fall in the Community
Help your preschooler learn the letters of the alphabet this year in a fun, consistent way!
Concord Main Library, outdoors at 129 Main St., Wednesdays 10:30, ages 5 and under. Info Page
Westford Library, in the meeting room with masks, Tuesdays 10:30 or 1:15 for ages 3-5. Info Page

Free Puppet Theater at the Concord Main Library Garden, 129 Main Street
Every Friday this Fall beginning September 10, 10:30-11. Drop in for different puppets, songs, crafts!

Free Rockabye Beats Back to School Preschooler Concert at Westford Library
With the big kids back in school younger kids will get a concert all their own outdoors. Enjoy a preschool-level of energy show with dancing, singing and playing along. Held in the meeting room if rain. Held September 16, 10:30-11:15. Information Page

Town-wide Yard Sale: Abbott School, 25 Depot St., Westford
You will receive a map of other participating locations in town at the school. FREE to shop. To sell, Register for your space here. Held September 25, 8-12:00.

Free Halloween Spooktacular with Toe Jam Puppet Band at Westford Library
Original Halloween songs and puppets. See the jammy monsters, do the "Frankie", silly string and more. For ages 4 & up. Held in the meeting room from 2:30-3:15 on October 30. Information Page

Free Halloween Activities at Lincoln Public Library in October
October 23: Pumpkin Palooza with fortune telling, games, and pumpkin painting from 10:30-12:00 for ages 6 and under. Drop in any time while wearing your costume. Rain date is October 30.
October 26: Stories and dancing in your costume, followed by a parade around the library, drop in at 10:00

Stand up to Stigma Scarecrow Contest, Jack O'Lantern Glow-by Event in Acton
For a $25 donation (to NAMI Central Middlesex), families will pick up a wooden frame to create their own scarecrow, which will be displayed at Cucurbit Farm (32 Parker Street) during the month of October. Over Halloween weekend you can also enjoy seeing your carved pumpkin lit up along the farm stand fence.

Kids Music Fest at Nara Park, Acton - Children 10 & under free with paid adult ($10)
See Karen K & the Jitterbugs, Ben Rudnick & Friends, and Steve Elci & Friends on September 26, 12-4:00 outdoors. Slip & Slide, arts & crafts, mural painting with a "Kindness is Contagious" theme. Tickets Here

2021 Theme:
Mental Health in an Unequal World
New Resources in the Community
Local Childcare Subsidy Grant Available in Acton, Boxborough, Littleton, Maynard, Westford
A Cares Act Community Development Block Grant is available on a first-come, first-served basis for income-eligible families. If you currently have an EEC Voucher you are not eligible for this grant. This program will cover child care for ages 0-13, including remote learning programs that are unable to accept vouchers. A common application is available in English, Hindi, Portuguese, Russian, Simplified Chinese and Spanish. Town-specific application info & contact info:
Click for Information in Each Town

Boxborough: Rajon Hudson
Maynard: Janelle Franklin
Littleton: Amy Demichele
Let Your Voice be Heard
Surveys from the Mass. Dept. of Early Education and Care on Your Experiences with Child Care and Child Care Subsidies



Available in English and Spanish
New Self-Paced Caregiver Education Program
$20-80 At your pace
Rebecca Minor, LICSW, is a local Gender Specialist who works with trans and gender nonconforming youth and their families. Rebecca has developed an online program focused on teaching parents, caregivers and educators everything they need to know to be equipped with the knowledge, tools and awareness to care for children beyond the limitations of the gender binary. Information includes 1) gender identity development, 2) the impact of the gender binary, 3) the importance of language, 4) benefits of and tools for identity exploration, and 5) how to talk with your kids about all of this. Webinar Information
Is it Behavior or is it Sensory?
September 13, 10:30 a.m. - FREE
Parents and caregivers of children with special needs know that each child has their own unique ways of responding to sensory stimuli and social interactions, which may vary between home and the community. Julie Robinson, OT, Director of Clinical Services at Neuropsychology & Education Services for Children & Adolescents, will present a webinar to give parents tips, tricks, and tools to help distinguish and support sensory responses. Register Here
Are You Facing Eviction or Foreclosure?
You do not have to leave your home if you receive a 14- or 30-day Notice to Quit or Vacate!
Information on the Extended CDC Federal Eviction Moratorium: Call 2-1-1 or Click Here

To find out if you qualify for rental assistance or free legal aid: Call 2-1-1- or Click Here

The Covid Eviction Legal Help Project provides help in English, Spanish, Haitian Creole, Portuguese, Chinese and Vietnamese for low-income tenants & low-income owner-occupants of 2- or 3-family homes:
Visit the Art Ramble at Hapgood Wright Town Forest this Fall
Introduce your child(ren) to modern art by visiting the town forest in Concord to see all the exhibits hanging in the trees and installed on the forest floor. Parking lot is opposite the high school at the intersection of Walden & Thoreau Streets.
Visit the Open Doors Installation on the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail
Take a walk or ride bikes through the Carlisle and Westford sections of the trail. See the original artwork using recycled doors that are painted with themes that blend with the outdoors.
Trunk or Treat Halloween Events
Avoid crossing streets and cars this Halloween!


If you'd like to help with this event or other awesome events during 2020-21, or if you're curious about becoming an ABFN Board Member, email chair@abfamily.org
Fringe Hair Loft in Westford - $480

Community Health Network Area 15 Building Race Equity Grant - $7,500

The Barn Nursery School in Concord for the electrostatic cleaner and cubbies!