November-December 2020              
Playgroups, Support Groups, Parenting Education, Special Events


Email to register or for information:
or call
978-429-8284 ext. 202 on Fridays
     Thank You! 

Our Childcare/Preschool Provider List for Acton, Bedford, Boxboro, Carlisle, Concord, Harvard, Lincoln, Littleton, Maynard, Sudbury and Westford has been updated as of 9/19/20. It includes Licensed Preschools, Family Child Care Homes, Center-based Child Care, Before- and After-School Care, and Hybrid Care Options that are open. Available on our Website:

CAPA Preschool Scholarships Available
The Concord Area Preschool Association has funds available for children who are 4 years old, will enter kindergarten next September, and have not attended preschool yet due to financial constraints. The scholarship is available to Concord and Carlisle residents, and those attending preschools in Concord or Carlisle. For more information or to apply, see contact info here: 

Updated Childcare Subsidy Income-Eligibility Chart
If your income has changed within the past year you may be eligible for financial assistance toward the cost of 
childcare. You can check the new chart here:
If you are eligible, you can submit your application here:

"Reggie Goes to School: A Social Story for Families to Help Young Children Prepare for Return to School or Child Care," 
by Janet Lane, LICSW 
is available to pick up on the door of our office any time, or you can read it and/or print and color it by accessing it here:

If you have any concerns about your child's development or readiness for preschool, you can contact the Early Intervention provider serving your town for an initial assessment. Evaluations are provided for children age birth to 2.9 free of charge with or without a doctor's referral (ages 3 and up should be screened by your public school). They will look at your child's communication and feeding skills, gross and fine motor development, sensory processing, cognitive and social-emotional development and play skills. 

Minute Man Early Intervention
Serves residents of  Acton, Bedford, Boxboro, Carlisle, Concord, Lincoln, Maynard, and Hanscom Air Force Base

Lipton Early Intervention:
Serves residents of Harvard

Criterion Early Intervention
South Bay Early Intervention
Serves residents of Sudbury

Anne Sullivan Early Intervention
South Bay Early Intervention
Project BEAM
Serves residents of Westford

EI Transition Focus Group
The Mass. Dept. of Early Education & Care has shared with our program that a research study is being conducted which is in need of parents of children age 3-5 who have transitioned out of Early Intervention services - being found either eligible or ineligible for a public preschool program. If you are screened in, you may be asked to participate in an 80-minute virtual Focus Group in English on either November 5, 9 or 10. Participants will receive a $100 stipend. Complete the online screener or call Karissa, 857-331-1357.

If you are a grandparent raising your grandchild(ren) for any reason and would like to meet other grandparents doing the same, there is a monthly group that is open to all:

3rd Tuesday of each Month


Currently held online via Zoom

Contact person:

Joe O'Leary, 978-760-0360  

Learn from other grandparents and experts about legal and financial strategies and community resources. Discover ways to relieve stress. Share in the grief of your own children being unable to parent, the rewards of nurturing your grandchildren, the challenges of parenting in a different generation, or just listen! 


The Commission on the Status of Grandparents Raising Grandchildren has a wealth of information and resources on their website: GRG Website 


They will also hold a Virtual Resource Fair on October 29, 9:30 a.m., and a "Planning for Your Grandchild's Future" webinar on October 27, 7-9 p.m. To receive the link for either program, email: 

Sudbury Public Schools 
2020-21 Preschool Program Virtual Information Session
October 29, 7-8:00 p.m.

Join the preschool team for an evening dedicated to all things preschool. Meet the teachers and program administrators, and have your questions answered. Please use this form to indicate your interest in next year's program:

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Support Group

meets virtually this Fall for those who've experienced pregnancy loss, or infant loss shortly after birth, and are seeking support from others with shared experiences. Join Nurse Practitioner Katie Stockman on the following dates:

November 9 and December 14

6:30-8:00 p.m.

Individuals should contact the facilitator to receive the connecting link.
or 978-287-3422
This is a free program.

In the September 19 edition of Dr. Rachel Kramer's newsletter, she began with a definition of Emotional Intelligence:
  • The ability to understand our own feelings
  • The ability to understand the feelings of those around us
  • The ability to manage (or regulate) our emotions
In a 2-minute read, parents can learn how to teach their children about their emotions with techniques such as using a rich feelings vocabulary or by hypothesizing our loud. She's got great examples of how to start.
Click here:
New Resource
Supporting Siblings of Children with Mental Health or Behavioral Health Special Needs

Free Monthly Support Group
U.Mass Medical School is offering a monthly zoom group for parents, and a separate group for siblings without behavioral issues who are age 6-18. Parents can also attend without a sibling participating. Parents can learn about the sibling experience, the importance of supporting siblings, and strategies to support siblings. A social worker facilitator will help address ongoing family challenges that impact siblings. The group will meet on the first Thursday of each month from 5:30-7:00 p.m. To reserve your spot call 857-523-1145 or email
For more information click here:
Connect with Your Local Family Network

New Resource!
LGBTQ Birth 
Free Support Groups
This new Massachusetts-based project is focused on childbirth education and community building among LGBTQ families and birth workers. They provide the following three virtual groups free of charge:

Monthly LGBTQ Pregnancy
Bi-weekly Trans & Gestating
Monthly LGBTQ New Parents (babies under 18 months)

To find out more or register, go to: or email 
New Resource!

The Town of Sudbury has instituted a new program thru February 2021 to provide free transportation services for individuals with financial need or driving disability need for the purposes of medical appointments, grocery shopping, or essential work in the fields of medical, grocery worker, or nursing home worker. To find out if you qualify for this service click here:
New Resource! 
The MGH Center for Women's Mental health has shared a new publication which was put together in order to help pregnant and new moms with an anxiety or mood disorder cope and have accurate information during Covid-19. It includes topics such as Sleep, Pregnancy and Breastfeeding, Infections in Children, Anxiety and Stress, Perinatal OCD, Panic Disorder, Depression, and How Family Members can Help. You can access it here:
The Mass. Dept. of Public Health is conducting a 10-minute survey about citizens' experiences during the Covid-19 crisis. In particular, they are hoping for more responses from:
Pregnant & Postpartum individuals, people of color, young parents, and those who speak a language other than English. 
Deadline has been extended to October 30. You can choose to take the survey in 11 languages including Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Arabic and Russian. No identifying information is collected.


What's the Problem? Teaching Problem-Solving Skills in Early Childhood  presented by the MSPCC Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation Team
This live virtual presentation will address the cognitive and social emotional skills children need to solve problems and how the Pyramid Model can support children's problem-solving skills through nurturing and responsive relationships, high quality environments, and targeted social emotional supports.
Wednesday, November 11, 7-8:00 p.m. via zoom link

Intro to Baby Sign 
Join Mary Beilman, a certified Baby Sign Language Educator, through the Institute of Pediatric Sleep and Parenting, to learn about the benefits of using sign language with your baby.  Mary will demonstrate common American Sign Language signs to use with your baby to build commuication skills before your baby develops language. This class is for caregivers and their babies, 2 months and up. Limited to 12. Wednesday November 4th 10:30-12:00 via zoom link

Pelvic Floor Health for Moms
presented by Emerson Pelvic Health Physical Therapy Specialists 
Do you leak when you laugh, cough or sneeze? Have you had trouble lifting or getting back into exercise? Do you have pain with intercourse? If so, join the pelvic health physical therapists from Emerson Center for Rehab & Sports Therapies to learn more about pelvic floor dysfunction and pain and how it can be treated! Wednesday, November 18, 1:30-2:30 p.m. via zoom link
First Year of Life Programs

New Mothers Group
Mothers with babies 0-6 months are welcome to attend this ongoing weekly group facilitated by lactation counselor and infant massage teacher Mary Beilman. Open discussion format is a forum for you to share experiences and resources, connect with other new mothers, and seek guidance about any concerns you might have. Held virtually via zoom. Guest Pediatricians from Acton Medical join the group periodically for topics specific to this developmental stage. Email for the link.
Held every Wednesday, 1:00 to 2:30 p.m. via zoom
New Dads Group 
Our new dads group allows dads to make connections with other fathers, ask questions, exchange tips, and share their experiences of parenthood and all the changes that come with it. Facilitated by Heather O'Brien, LICSW, who also runs our postpartum wellness group. This group supports all new parents who identify as fathers. Whether you are parenting solo, partnered or married, adoptive or biological, have one baby or more, you are welcome here. Email to be added to the reminder email that is sent out with the monthly brief discussion topic & connecting link. 
Held November 10 and December 8, 7:30-9 pm via zoom.
Emotional Wellbeing After Baby Group
Emotional challenges are the most common complication of pregnancy and childbirth, yet parents often feel isolated and ashamed if they are struggling. Mothers or fathers 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 skills strategies. This is an ongoing, weekly group for parents of babies 0-12 months. Before participating for the first time please register for the group using this link or contact the facilitator, Heather O'Brien, LICSW at
Held every Thursday, 10:00-11:30 a.m. via zoom

Older Babies Group for At-Home & Working Parents
Welcome our newest team member, Dr. Rajeev Nagpal, who will be joining our parent education and group facilitation programing. Dr. Nagpal is a healthcare policy professional, who shares our passion for strengthening families and community resilience. He is an experienced father and spent 30 years working as a pediatrician in neonatal medicine. Dr. Nagpal will draw from his personal and professional experience engaging parents in discussions about child development and the parenting journey. We are grateful for his volunteer service. Please email to register for the appropriate group. Each group will be limited to 12 participants, and weekly attendance is expected

Older Baby Group 5 months thru 11 Months
As your babies move out of the newborn stage, begin to move around, and start eating a wider variety of foods, you may have different questions than parents who are in the 4th trimester. This group will be held every Wednesday from 10:30-11:30, with group facilitation alternating between Mary Beilman and Dr. Rajeev Nagpal.

Older Baby Group for Working Parents 5 months thru 11 months
This group is for working parents with babies 5 months to 1 year. It is an opportunity to connect with other parents who are making the transition to managing home life with work life while juggling many new responsibilities and stressors. This group will be held every Wednesday from 10:30-11:30, with group facilitation alternating between Mary Beilman and Dr. Rajeev Nagpal.  

Dr. Nagpal's weekly topics

Laughter, the Best Medicine- 
That first baby smile marks the beginning of an amazing relational journey between an infant and those who make up his world. Similarly, laughter is an early expression of delight that is a powerful building block for family unity and security. Join Dr. Nagpal to discuss the importance of face-to-face time between infants and the people in their lives and the developmental significance of smiles and laughter. Come prepared to smile!

Movers & Shakers -
As newborns grow and gain curiosity during their first year of life, they eventually transform into movers and shakers. Dr. Rajeev will share developmental insights regarding crawling and a baby's first steps followed by a light-hearted discussion of challenges and tips for keeping babies safe during early mobility.

Siblings & Socializing -
During this time of Covid19, many parents are wondering about the lack of socialization for infants and children. Should we be worried? Can siblings and adults in the home make up for the loss of external socialization? Join Dr. Rajeev for the latest thoughts from the experts, and bring your success stories for social engagement within the home.

Acton-Boxborough Family Network has organized several free activities open to the public in lieu of their usual Halloween Party which is unable to be held due to Covid-19 restrictions. 

Families can download a map of homes and storefronts which have been decorated or have set up displays -- including First Connections! For the map and a Scavenger Hunt sheet click here:  

You can return the Scavenger Hunt sheet via email for a chance to win a raffle prize donated by Dunkin'!

If you're able to help families who are currently financially stressed, please consider donating food or diapers/wipes to the Acton Food Pantry or First Connections through ABFN's drive. Items most in need and drop off/delivery sites (along the Spooky Streets route) listed here:

Thanks to ABFN for coordinating this community effort, and to Danny's Place volunteers for delivering the donations.
Playgroups begin the week of November 9 and end December 18
Registration is required for all groups:

Registration for families living outside of Acton, Bedford, Boxboro, Carlisle, Concord, Harvard, Hanscom AFB, Lincoln, Littleton, Maynard, Sudbury or Westford will be on a space-available basis and confirmed one week prior to start date. Families may register for one group which siblings are welcome to attend. All groups require participation of a parent or caregiver, connection via zoom, and are facilitated by an early childhood educator. FREE.
One Year Olds Playgroup: Fridays at 10:00
Two Year Olds Playgroup: Thursdays at 10:00
Based on the Ages & Stages Developmental Milestones suggested activities for this age group, includes interactive story time, songs, rhymes and more.

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. If you are registering for this group for the first time, please let us know the language other than English that is spoken at home. Appropriate for ages 1 1/2-5. 
Mondays at 10:00, co-led by Yu Song (who is bilingual Chinese)

Social-Emotional Skills Preschool Playgroup for Multilingual Families with Children age 3-5
For those families who speak a language in addition to or other than English at home, this group will focus on learning those all-important social emotional skills that children need to be prepared for school. These skills are harder to learn when children are not going to school in person, so we will read books and do activities about feelings, self-control, sharing, and empathy. Held Tuesdays, 10:00-11:00

Social-Emotional Skills Preschool Playgroup for Ages 3-5 
This group will focus on learning those all-important social emotional skills that children need to be prepared for school. These skills are harder to learn when children are not going to school in person, so we will read books and do activities about feelings, self-control, sharing, and empathy. This group is not limited by home language. 
Held Fridays, 11:00-12:00

Military Families Multi-Age Playgroup
This playgroup is for families who are affiliated with a local military branch or have access to Hanscom Air Force Base, which is where the group was located pre-Covid-19. The group provides an opportunity for active-duty military families to connect with and get to know each other. Appropriate for ages 6 mos. thru 5. Held Wednesdays at 11:00

Other Ways to Connect with Miss Ellie

Facebook Live Circle Time 
Wednesdays at 10:00 
No registration required, Connect here:

Recorded Storytime Videos 
with activity ideas that are related to the story!
To receive notification when these are posted, email: 
We thank the
 Acton-Boxborough United Way for their donation of diapers 
and cleaning products during their Week of Action in September! 

We also thank WGBH for the Scholastic Book Packs for families.


Halloween Storytime & Pumpkin Parade - Goodnow Library
Put on your costumes and join Miss Amy & Miss Heidi for virtual Halloween stories, songs and special treat bags which will include a spooky craft (pickup in Sudbury required, specify food allergies). To receive the link to connect, click on the time you want to attend on October 30 (9:30, 10:15, 11:00 or 11:45) on the calendar: Questions? 

Sciencetellers: Mummy at Mystery Mansion 
Frankie & Casey visit their uncle for a Halloween party and fund a creepy mummy scaring everyone away! Is it a haunted house? Join this virtual program to unravel the mystery, and explore spooky and exciting science concepts. 
October 27: 

Hands-on Nature Class via Zoom thru Littleton Library
Heather Simpson will present a nature class once a month this Fall for kids kindergarten age and older. FREE. Upcoming dates for sign-up are:

The Nature Connection Visits thru Concord Library
Join us as we explore plants and animals, geek out over nature, and connect with ourselves and those around us in new ways - all through nature-based stories, & poems. Explore how plants & animals respond to changes in their environment, the importance of biodiversity, and amazing resiliency of nature!
Nov. 17 & Dec. 15 at 10:30-11 for ages 3-6, or 3-4:00 for ages 6-10
FREE. Register here: Event Calendar Registration

Rockabye Beats thru Concord Library - Wednesdays
Enjoy movement, dancing, counting, singing, Spanish vocabulary and an instrument show & tell with drums, guitar, rhythm instruments and a xylophone. FREE. Held from 10-10:30. 

Music & Movement w/Miss Bernadette-Discovery Museum
Move, make music, listen, learn, and get a multi-sensory workout. Music improves a child's memory, cognitive development, learning skills and ability to express emotion. FREE. 
Register for individual dates here: November 13  December 11

Ed  Morgan Singalong thru Concord Library - Fridays
Zoom for an interactive program that will have everyone up and moving, dancing and singing. "The Music Man" will teach fun ways to connect with your family through music. FREE. 10-1:30. 
Register: November 20  December 18

Playtime Theater Returns to West Concord - Outdoors!
This fall performances will be held outdoors at 53 Church Street at 10:30. Please bring your own chairs. If rain/snow necessitates an indoor performance, the first 50 people will be admitted with socially distanced seating. All guests are required to wear masks indoors or out. $5 per person, cash or check. Suggested audience age is 2-9. Performances are as follows: Nov. 6: Goldilocks & 3 Bears, Nov. 21: Winnie the Pooh, Dec. 5: The Gruffalo, Dec. 19: Frosty the Snowman. 
Children Visit Sturbridge Village Free thru November 28
Old Sturbridge Village is currently open Fri-Sat-Sun from 9:30-4:00. Up to 3 children age 17 and younger can attend with an adult paying full price ($28). Parking is free. For more information go to 

Family Trees: A Celebration of Children's Literature
The Concord Museum annual exhibit of trees and wreaths decorated and inspired by acclaimed classic & contemporary children's books will be on display from November 25 to January 3 (advanced tickets required). This year will also feature FREE virtual activities with authors and illustrators featured in the exhibit. Families will be able to watch storytelling and special videos, participate in art-making and more on the weekend of December 11-13. Register to receive the connecting information: Virtual Authors & Illustrators 


Free Virtual Mommy & Me Barre Trial Class - October 26
Specialized class allows participants to wear your baby for half the class, and workout alongside your baby for the second half. Virtual class can be done with a chair/countertop, light weights (or soup cans/water bottles), and a playground ball or pillow. Register to receive the link for the 11-11:45 class: 

Screen Time & Parenting Toddlers & Preschoolers
What can we do to ensure our children are developing the necessary "soft skills" like resiliency, cooperation, independence & curiosity to be successful in school and in the future? How does technology interfere with development of these skills? Join Family Coach Adrienne Principe from Turning Life On for this program being held on Nov. 4, 7:30-9 pm. FREE/donation. Register by 10/27. Registration Link

Keeping Toddlers & Preschoolers Busy
Join Jenifer Joy Madden, adjunct professor and founder of, for a discussion about the challenges of and tips for helping your children develop independent play skills. Held on Nov. 13, 7:30-9 pm. FREE/donation. Register by 11/3. Registration Link

"Managing Kids' Screen Time in the Pandemic" 
The Discovery Museum invites you to join Jill Walsh, Ph.D., a lecturer at B.U., researcher, and author of Adolescents and Their Social Media Narratives: A Digital Coming of Age. Her work has examined the way social media, and the need to document the self online, has altered the paths to adolescent development. She currently teaches on the intersection between society and technology, with an emphasis on the millennial generation. Held November 12, 7-8:30 pm via zoom. FREE/$5 donation. Registration required: Dr. Jill Walsh Registration

The Center for Early Relationship Support
Samantha Shinewald, a Certified Sleep Consultant and social worker, will be holding 3 workshops to support and share the knowledge needed for parents to make informed choices about the way sleep and feeding impact each other and address ways to optimize both for your family. Content acknowledges that each family member's environment, culture, temperament, developmental history and beliefs are highly personal and play a role in your family's approach to parenting. Workshops are held via Zoom from 7:30-9:30 pm, $30/household.
Oct. 27: Babies 0-9 mos, Oct 29: 10 mos-2 yrs, Nov 5: Ages 2-4 yrs. Register through the above link. Questions: Gabrielle,  

Upcoming workshops for late fall include the following virtually:
Supporting Sibling Relationships on November 10, 7-9 pm, $35
Toddlers 101: Tantrums, Hurting Behaviors & "It's Mine" on November 17, 7-8:30 pm, $25
Peaceful Parenting: An Effective, Relationship-Building Approach on December 1, 7-9 pm, $35
Toilet Training Workshop on December 15, 7-9 pm, $35


Parent/Caregiver Saturday Support Group
Join Kathy Whitham, RN, from 9-10 each week for concrete problem solving, general support and connection, with occasional guest speakers. Kathy's Parenting Beyond Words approach uses evidence-based tools and strategies that promote responding to your child's needs rather than reacting to their behavior. $0-15/week. To receive the connecting virtual link & learn more, contact Kathy here:  

The 4th Trimester: 6-Wk New Parent/Infant Saturday Series
Weekly parenting topic and infant development focus including a newsletter and ideas for play and activities. Appropriate for families with a baby 0-6 months. Held November 21, 28, December 5, 12, 19, 26 at 1:30.$145, 

Open Support Group for Latino Parents of Children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder, 
Padres latinos de niños y adolescentes
Free / GRATIS, facilitado por Laura Pérez, se reunirá en línea de 12: 00-1: 30 PM EST para estos martes por la tarde: 3 de Noveiembre and 1 de diciembre. REGISTRO PARA EL 14 DE JULIO     or 617-393-3824 x32

Adoption Journeys Free Virtual Parent Support Group
Monthly groups for families who have adopted children of any age. Through Child & Family Services, Adoption Journeys provides support, resources, counseling and family events. To register email:  

JF&CS Center for Early Relationship Support
 FREE Virtual Groups: Click Here
Newly Adopted Babies Under 1 Year, Fridays 10-11:30
Parents of Multiples, Thursdays 10-11:30
Parents of Toddlers Age 1-3, Wednesdays 1-2:30

Parents Helping Parents of Mass. FREE Virtual Groups

Grupo de apoyo en línea para padres de habla hispana
La crianza de los hijos es el trabajo más difícil del mundo. A veces, los desafíos y las luchas se vuelven abrumadores y crean mucho estrés y frustración para los padres. ¿Necesita algún comentario para sus preguntas? ¿Necesita ayuda con los pasos a seguir para reducir el estrés y poder ser mejor padre? Únase a nuestro grupo de apoyo en línea y obtenga apoyo para todas sus necesidades de crianza. Tuesdays, 10-11:00

Lunch & Learn Online Parenting Group - Fridays, 12-1:00 pm
Parenting is the hardest job in the world. At times the challenges and struggles get overwhelming and creates a lot of stress and frustration for parents. Do you need to get some feedback to your questions? Do you need help with steps to take to reduce stress so you can parent better? Take your lunch and come and join our community. Reserve a ticket for individual dates that you can attend.

First Connections is funded by a Coordinated Family and Community Engagement grant awarded to Justice Resource Institute by the Mass. Department of Early Education and Care and by the generous support of Eastern Bank, Concord-Carlisle Community Chest, Acton Congregational Church, Trinitarian Congregational Church, Maynard Community Chest, Acton Boxborough United Way, the Nordblum Family Foundation and other community partners. We provide free support, early childhood and parent education, and resources to all families with children under age 9 living in Acton, Bedford, Boxborough, Carlisle, Concord, Harvard, Lincoln, Littleton, Maynard, Sudbury, Westford and Hanscom AFB. To view our direct services and programs, please visit