Email to register or for information:
978-429-8284 ext. 202
Check out Ellie's Latest Blog Topics
"All Feelings Are OK"
"Discipline: Rewards and
If you have any concerns about your child's development or readiness for preschool, you can contact your public school preschool program listed below for a free screening if your child is age 2.9-5.
As a first step, you may also choose to fill out an ASQ through First Connections. Send your child's birth date and your postal mailing address to:
We will send you the questionnaire and a return envelope. After we receive it back, an educator will set up a time to go over it with you and share suggested activities for helping your child reach his/her next developmental milestone.
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
Acton Senior Center
30 Sudbury Rd., Acton
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 Impact of Trauma on Children
will be presented to grandparents and relative caregivers at The Acton Senior Center on
September 17, 9:30-12:30
Includes refreshments and an opportunity to meet with DTA, Masshealth, WIC, Elder Services, DCF and more to learn about benefits or services you may be eligible for. Free. To register or find out about other Fall presentations:
Would you like to know more about foster care adoption?
These presentations are open to families in any stage of considering foster care or adoption from foster care. Families new to the process can learn about the steps involved in caring for children in need of loving homes from DCF social workers.
Sept. 10 or Nov. 12, 6-7:00
DCF Office, 2 Omni Way, Chelmsford, 978-557-2721
Sept. 12 or Oct. 10, 10-Noon
Community Center, 19 Carter St., Berlin, 508-929-2122
Sept. 17 or Oct. 15, 5-6:30
DCF Office, 30 Mystic St., Arlington, 781-641-8512
Every Thursday, 6-7:30
DCF Office, 300 Howard St
Confirm meeting w/Sheila
November 23 is National Adoption Day 2019!
Family Events on Columbus Day Weekend
October 12-14, 9-5:00
Vote for your favorite scarecrow, fun family activities and a corn maze.
If you'd like to make a scarecrow, bring $25 NAMI donation to the farm and pick up your scarecrow frame starting Sept 1.
"Put 'Em Up Party" is on Sept. 27 from 5-8:00.
25 Parker St., Acton
Moms of Amazing Kids
is a group for moms raising a child with a medical, developmental or other disability. They have private Facebook Groups for Moms, Spouses & Relatives, Inclusive Playgroups, and Special Needs Sitters. They plan Moms' Nights Out, and playdates. There's also a mom-recommended list of resources. If you're looking for other moms who understand the joys and challenges of raising a child with a special need, visit:
Pregnancy and Infant Loss Support Group
meets at First Connections monthly 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 any of the following dates this fall
Sept. 9, Oct. 14,
Nov. 11, Dec. 8
Individuals are encouraged to contact the facilitator before attending though this is not required. You can email Katie in the case of severe weather to confirm the group is running:
This is a free program.
A Monthly Adoptee Group for Ages 8-11 meets simultaneously with a Parent Group at Boston Post Adoption Resources
in Brookline, 6-7:00 pm.
$25 per participant.
For more information:
Adoptive Families Together
parenting group meets at 1st Congregational Church in Billerica on the last Sunday of each month, 7-9:00 pm. Group and childcare are free.
Adoption Journeys Parent Support Groups
are held in Waltham on the 3rd Wednesdays of the month from 6:30-8:00. This program is grant funded to support adoptive families in exploring and understanding their strengths, resources and needs. They provide in-home support, groups, advocacy & family activities. To register, call 781-444-1042 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Services provided in Lawrence can be accessed by calling 978-687-5852 or emailing email@example.com
The Littleton Parents Association will be holding playgroups this fall! Interested in learning more and joining our group? Email
for more information
Acton-Boxboro Family Network will hold their ann
ual Halloween Party on
Sat., October 26, 10-11:30
(sensory-friendly party 9:30-10) at the Junior H.S. Gym, 16 Charter Rd., Acton. Halloween crafts, music, dancing with a DJ, raffle prizes & best costume prize. Non-ABFN families welcome for $3/child over 12 mos., $10 per family maximum
Maynard Fall Fiesta
Saturday, October 19
Join Maynard Family Network for their Fall Fiesta! Enjoy fall-themed snacks, crafts, and fun for the whole family. Costumes are, of course, encouraged!
$5 per family if not an MFN member.
for location & updates
Sunday, September 29
Ripley Playscape, Merriam Road, Concord
Join Concord Family Network for their annual Fire Truck Wash at the festival which will also include animals from Drumlin Farm, a children's musician, nature-based art activities and more. Free (voluntary $5 cash donation). If planning to attend, please RSVP on the eventbrite link at:
FREE MUSEUM ADMISSION
Acton Discovery Museum
Fridays, 4:30-8:00 p.m.
9/6, 10/4, 11/1, 12/6
Museum of Fine Arts-Boston
Monday, October 14
Smithsonian Magazine Free Museum Admission Day!
MFA, Harvard Museums, Russian Icons, Fruitlands, Discovery, Fitchburg Art, Ecotarium
Download your 2 free tickets:
Harvard Museum of Natural History/Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology
Every Sunday Morning
Celebrate the Apple:
Free Family Open House at
September 7, 10-4:00.
Hands-on activities include
pressing cider, baking pies in
the museum's colonial hearth,
and an art mural.
Worcester Art Museum
Free the First Sunday of each month from 10-4:00.
Thank you for Your Donation!
Middlesex Savings Bank
United Way Acton-Boxboro
"In gratitude for all the joy, love, and support you provide families in our community. We are stronger because of you"
We are awaiting details from The Climb held in June and will publish those thank you's in our winter newsletter - we were thrilled to have
families join us on the Rail Trail that morning!
Pelvic Floor Health for Moms
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, September 4, 1:30-2:30 during New Moms Group in Acton
How to Use Time Outs Appropriately
There is a lot of debate about whether to use time outs with young children, and if so, what they look like. We will talk about when it is appropriate to use a time out as a break for you and your child, and how to implement them while maintaining connection with your child and helping them to learn from the experience. Time outs are not particularly useful or effective for children under age 2, because of their developmental stage, so this talk is aimed primarily at caregivers of children aged 2-5. Those with children under 2 are welcome to come and plan for the future, however.
Tuesday, September 17, 9:45-10:45 (arrive at 9:30 if using childcare)
Childcare available, held at First Connections, Acton
Motor Development in the First 12 Months of Life
Learn about the important motor development milestones that happen during the first year of baby's life, and how to assist your child as he/she explores the environment. Hands-on demonstration with your baby in addition to handouts to share with other caregivers. Presented by physical therapist Melissa Campbell.
Tuesday, October 22, 11-12:00, at Emerson Health Center in Westford
Play-based Language Development for Ages 1-5
Play is the way children learn new skills, and language is one of the most important skills children learn while they play. Parents and caregivers will learn more about what they can do to build their child's vocabulary while playing simple games with them.
Presented by Claire Borowski, SLP. Held at First Connections.
Wednesday, November 13, 10:00, Acton (arrive at 9:45 if using childcare).
Gross Motor Milestones for Ages 1-5
Gross motor skills involve the large muscles in your child's arms, legs and torso. Their development affects your child's sense of body awareness, reaction speed, balance and strength. Join us to learn when your child should be able to run, lift, kick, catch & throw, use stairs, jump with both feet, ride a tricycle, skip, swim, and climb, and what you can do to help your child if they've missed a milestone. Presented by Karen Veilleux, D.P.T. (Arrive at 10:15 if using childcare)
Tuesday, November 5, 10:30-11:30, at First Connections, Acton
"Handling Transitions" for parents of Toddlers & Preschoolers
From getting ready for bed or leaving the house to run errands, to starting preschool or having a new sibling, your child faces many transitions, big and small, every day. Ellie Springer will highlight why this developmental stage may be making transitions challenging for your child and you, and tips on ways to make transitions a smoother process for all concerned. (Arrive at 10:00 if using child care)
Thursday, November 7, 10:15-11:00, at Concord Carousel Preschool
We are extremely grateful to all of our presenters who are donating their time to our programs.
First Year of Life Support Programs
These programs are open to parents from any town.
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. 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. Facilitators are certified in lactation support. Held at First Connections, 179 Great Rd, Acton,
(for directions: firstname.lastname@example.org).
Every Wednesday, 1:00 to 2:30 p.m., No registration required.
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. Fathers are welcome to attend with or without babies. Facilitated by Heather O'Brien, LICSW, who 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 Heather (email@example.com) to be added to the reminder email that is sent out with the monthly brief discussion topic.
Maynard Public Library, 77 Nason St
Sept. 17, Oct., 15, Nov. 19, Dec. 17, Tuesday, 7:00-8:30 p.m.
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 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 contact the facilitator, Heather O'Brien, LICSW at hobrien
or 978-429-8284, ext. 219.
Every Thursday, 10:00-11:30 a.m. at First Connections, Acton
Working Parents Play & Support Group
A group specifically for parents with babies/toddlers 0-24 months who are working out of the home full time and having difficulty staying connected or finding a peer group - something that is especially hard with short parental leaves. Discover ways to manage stress and cope with the challenge of balancing work and family life. All parents welcome! Families living within our grant's 11-town catchment area will be prioritized for registration.
Saturdays, 9:30-11:00 at First Connections, Acton
Sept. 21, Oct. 19, Nov. 16, Dec. 14
Saturdays, 9:30-10:30, Storytime at Silver Unicorn Books in W. Acton
Sept. 7, Oct. 5, Nov. 2, Dec. 7
Playgroups begin the week of Sept. 23 and end the Week of Dec. 9 unless otherwise stated.
Registration is required for all groups:
firstname.lastname@example.org or 978-429-8284 x202. No fees. Children may be registered for one group. All groups require participation of a parent or caregiver. With the exception of our Infant Playgroup which receives supplemental funding, registration for families living outside of Acton, Bedford, Boxboro, Carlisle, Concord, Harvard, Hanscom AFB, Lincoln, Littleton, Maynard, Sudbury and Westford will be on a space-available basis and confirmed one week prior to start date.
Infant 3-11 Month Playgroup Meets Tuesdays 10:30-11:30
This playgroup includes developmental discussions and handouts, playtime, circle time with finger plays, rhymes and songs. Based on the Ages & Stages Developmental Milestones suggested activities for this age group. Limited to 14 babies.
Held at Sargent Memorial Library in Boxborough
Older Baby 10-17 Month Playgroup Me
ets Mondays 12:30-1:30
This playgroup will have free play time at the beginning and short 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! Children in this group should be actively crawling or walking. Based on the Ages & Stages Developmental Milestones suggested activities for this age group.
Held at Bedford Public Library (November 11 & 18 held in Acton)
Literacy Playgroup for 18-35 Months meets Fridays
This group offers free play time in a preschool classroom with specific activities to work on different fine motor, communication, self help, and social skills, as well as a circle time with a book and songs. Due to size and location of room, only infants worn in a sling or carrier may attend with the registered child - no strollers or car seats.
Held at Village Nursery School in Harvard, 10-11:00
Social & Emotional Skills Group for 3 thru 5 Year Olds
Held Thursdays 10:00 to 11:30
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. Children should bring a snack and inform us during registration of any anaphylactic food allergies. Limited to 12 children.
This program includes a parent presentation on Handling Transitions on November 7.
First Connections staff will provide childcare during the discussion in an adjacent room.
at Concord Carousel Preschool in West Concord
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 2 parent/caregiver discussion topics, led by a parent educator. The group includes a circle time and snack time in addition to free play.
Additionally, each family will bring home a different bag of books each week, and will exchange them for more books the following week. If your child has a life-threatening anaphylactic food allergy please let us know when you register. 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 18 months thru 5.
Held at First Connections in Acton on Mondays, 9:30-11:00
(If you walk or take the Minute Van to First Connections for playgroup please tell us that in your registration email. Thank you!)
Held at Roudenbush Community Center, Westford on Tuesdays, 10-11:30
Military Families Multi-Age Playgroup
This playgroup is for mobile babies thru age 4 (pre-K) and their caregiver. There will be free-play time, activities for different age groups, and a circle time with stories, songs and rhymes. Non-mobile infant siblings may attend if "worn" in a carrier.
This group is open to any family who has an I.D. allowing them to access Hanscom Air Forc
e Base. Please let us know if you are also enrolled in Minuteman E.I. or the EFM Program.
Held at Hanscom Family Housing Community Room, Wednesdays, 10-11:00
FOR FAMILIES WHO HAVE CHILDREN WITH A SPECIAL NEED
INSPIRE Free Group for Parents/Grandparents of Children age 4-9 with a Special Need
9:30-11 and continues to November 19. Held at the Ripley Bldg., 120 Merriam Rd., Concord. Learn strategies to feel more emotionally balanced, nurture your identity beyond parenting, cope with and reduce the stress of relentless advocacy, restore trust and hope by creating positive connections, and gain new perspectives on having more satisfying interactions with your child. Facilitated by Patricia Marquis, LICSW. Questions? Email email@example.com or call 978-202-1143. Pre-registration is required: https://inspiresupportgroupfall2019.eventbrite.com
Asperger's/Autism 101: A Workshop for Parents of Newly Diagnosed Children
will be held on
September 17 or November 19,
7-9:00 pm, $40 per family. Held at the AANE office in Watertown. Covers what you can expect, core strengths and challenges, ways to cope at home, advocating at school and more. Register at
Questions..call 617-393-3824 x32 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Floortime for Parents
will be held on 6 Wednesdays from 7-9 pm beginning
This program will teach you how to play with your child to better support his/her development and emotional growth. Suitable for parents of children age 2-10 with issues of behavior, communication, regulation, or developmental delays. $120 includes two individualized mentoring sessions with your child.
Questions...email email@example.com or call 617-413-1355. Register: www.astrafoundation.org
Parent & Family Autism Spectrum Disorder Support Group
meets on the 3rd Monday of each month at Lowell General Hospital's Saints Campus. This is a free group to support loved ones of those living with this diagnosis. For more information contact Amy Harris, 978-905-1674.
Portuguese Speaking Support Group for Parents of Children with Autism
Spectrum Disorders meets at 1881 Worcester Road, Suite 100A, Framingham on
September 30, 6:30 pm. For more information contact 774-245-2395 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. A program of Advocates.
"Just for Dads" Group for fathers raising children on the autism spectrum meets on the first Thursday of each month (
September 5), 7-8:30 pm at the Morse Institute Library in Natick. Drop in any time. For more info, contact the Autism Alliance, 508-652-9900.
A free seminar on Bipolar Disorder
will be held on
Saturday, September 28, 9:30-2:30, presented by the Mass. General Dept. of Psychiatry. It is open to patients, families, friends, and clinicians and held at Charles River Plaza Starr Center Auditorium in Boston. Lunch is included. Pre-registration is required at www.mghpatientfamily.org or 866-644-7792. Included will be updates on new research and clinical topics such as Pediatric Bipolar - Challenges and Updates, Psychosocial Interventions for Bipolar, Treatment of Mania & Psychosis, Bipolar Depression, the latest research, & perspectives from people with the disorder.
Family Concert & Food Allergy Expo
will be held Saturday, October 26, 1:30-3:00 at 900 Washington St., Canton. There will be music, puppets, games, and entertainment by Kyle Dine who performs songs that empower, support & educate children who have food allergies, and their parents. Halloween costumes welcome. http://asthmaandallergies.org
Discovery Museum "Especially for Me" free admission days:
September 28, 5-8:00 pm (Caterpillar Lab 5:30-7:00), and
November 16, 5-8:00 pm
October 1, November 5, December 3, 1:30-4:30
October 19, 5-8:00 pm
Deaf, Hard of Hearing & KODA Infants/Toddlers:
October 7, 9:30-12:30
Deaf, Hard of Hearing & KODA Children:
November 2, 5-8:00
FOR ALL PARENTS
Back to School Workshop Week at the Peter Pan Center
Held 4:30-6:00 pm, 629 Mass. Ave., Boxboro, 978-413-1965
I Feel Mad! Tips for Kids on Managing Angry Feelings" on August 26
I Feel Worried! Tips for Kids on Overcoming Anxiety" on August 27
I Need to Win! Tips for Kids on Good Sportsmanship" on August 28
Bully Busting & Managing Meanies" on August 29
Geared toward children aged 7-12 years. One adult needs to attend with the child. $89 per workshop includes a workbook.
The Loved Child Fall Parent Education Topics will include:
Toilet Training on September 7, 7:00 pm
Supporting Sibling Relationships on October 7, 7:00 pm
Overview of Positive Discipline on October 29, 7:00 pm
Toddlers 101 (Tantrums, Hurting Behaviors, & "It's Mine") on Dec. 10, 7:00 pm
Located at 173 Belmont St., Belmont, 617-855-5819
"Daddy Time" Classes facilitated by John Carr, LICSW, will highlight the importance of play between father and child. Dads will share and discuss what works best, and support each other in cultivating developmentally appropriate play practices. For dads of children 1 month to 3 years. $155 for 7 weeks:
Sept. 21, Oct. 5 & 19, Nov. 2 & 16, Dec. 7 & 21, 9-10:00 am, Saturdays
"The Power of Agency" presented by Clinical Psychologists Dr. Anthony Rao and Dr. Paul Napper at The Fenn School, Concord:
The World Health Organization describes the U.S. as "the most anxious nation on earth!" The speakers will focus on your ability to create a meaningful life on your own terms and adapt to living in "the age of overwhelm." They'll talk about their new book which shares skills and insights to enable you to do less and reflect more before making life choices! October 17, 7:00-9:00 p.m. Info: https://silverunicornbooks.com/?q=h.calevents
Central Mass. Lyme Disease Conference will be held on
Webinar on Fatherhood
is free and will be held on Tuesday,
3-4:00, with Clinical Professor of Child Psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine Kyle Pruett, M.D.. He is a researcher who will discuss fatherhood and the importance of listening to fathers and engaging them in their child's development. To learn more visit:
FREE & LOW-COST FAMILY ACTIVITIES
Portuguese & Russian Storytimes
at Fun World Language Academy
Suitable for 18 mos. & up with a caregiver, siblings welcome. Held at 234 Littleton Road, Westford. Call 617-283-2440 for information, or register online: www.funworldlanguageacademy.com. $5/child or $10 maximum per family.
Portuguese: Saturday, September 7, 10:30-11:15
Russian: Fridays, 10-11:00
The Silver Unicorn Book Shop Free Saturday Story Times for Fall:
September 7, 11-1:00, Meet the illustrator of "Poop" & "Hawks Kettle, Puffins Wheel," a book about 12 types of birds!
September 28, 11-1:00, Meet the author of "How to Code a Rollercoaster" during West Acton's Octoberfest!
October 5, 11-1:00, Meet the author of "Bird Count" a picture book about the annual Christmas Bird Count.
October 12, 11-1:00, Meet the author of "Owling: Enter the World of the Mysterious Birds of the Night" and see live owls right in the store!
October 19, 11-1:00, Meet the Newbery Medal-winning author of "The Hundred Year Barn," Patricia MacLachlan
October 20, 2-4:00, Meet the author of "My Furry Foster Family: Truman the Dog". Proceeds of any book sales benefit Buddy Dog Shelter in Sudbury.
October 26, 11-1:00, Meet the author of "Ruby's Sword" & "Caspian Finds a Friend," Jacqueline Veissid
November 2, 11-1:00, Meet the author of "Dasher," Matt Tavares
November 16, 11-1:00, Meet the author of "16 Words"
The book store is located at 12 Spruce St., W. Acton, 978-274-2757
Cumming School of Veterinary Medicine Open House
will be held on Sunday,
September 15, 11:00-3:00.
Annual event is geared to all ages and includes mounted police, disc dogs, hay rides, horseshoe demo, mini horses, kids crafts, teddy bear clinic, wingmasters, carting dogs, and veterinary medicine demonstrations. Free. Schedule at:
Sudbury Colonial Faire and Fife & Drum Muster will be held at the Wayside Inn, Sudbury from 11:30-5:00 on September 28 ($2 adults who are not in historic clothing). Full day of music, muskets, history and colonial encampment. Parade begins at 12:00 at the Grist Mill. www.sudburyminutemen.org/faire.htm
Nature! A Walking Play presented at Fruitlands Museum on September 28, 4-5:30 for ages 6 and up. Connect with nature through creative play with Tiger Lion Arts actors. Includes nature walks and a reflective journal to take home. Register online: www.thetrustees.org.
$15 adults, $10 child for nonmembers, reduced price for members.
27th Annual Maynard Octoberfest
will be held on October 5,
"Cinderella" performed by Tanglewood Marionettes
at Acton Rec Center on
Arlington Film Festival Celebrates Diversity on November 7-10 at the Capitol Theatre. Annual event features adult and children's films from all over the world. www.AIFF.org
Steve Songs In Concert
to benefit Acton Barn Cooperative Preschool. Held at Parker Damon Building, 11 Charter Road, Acton. $13 over age 1, $16 at door.
(If the cost of tickets is not affordable for your family, please contact First Connections: email@example.com)
If you will need financial assistance during the holidays this year and you live in.....
Contact Community Services Coordinator Laura Ducharme at firstname.lastname@example.org or 978-929-6651.
Contact Bedford Youth & Family Services at 781-275-7727 or email@example.com.
Concord & Carlisle:
Contact Bonny Wilbur, Community Services Coordinator, 978-318-3034 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Boxborough: Contact Community Services Coordinator Lauren Abraham, 978-264-1730, email@example.com.
Littleton & Harvard:
Contact the Client Advocate at Loaves & Fishes Food Pantry, 978-772-4627 x312 or go to
The pantry holds annual "Shop for Your Kids" and "Shop for your Parents" events, but
preregistration is required.
Volunteers and donations to this project are always welcome.
Contact town social worker Bethany Hadvab, 978-440-5476 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Holiday assistance applications are due Mid-October
Families or organizations wishing to donate to this project can also contact Bethany.
Acton, Bedford, Boxboro, Concord, Lincoln, Littleton, Maynard & Westford:
The annual Beacon Santa fundraiser benefits children living in the above towns (in addition to others). Applications are due
! For questions and information go to
call 978-371-5795 or pick up an application at the offices at 150 Baker Ave. Ext., Suite 101, Concord.
Justice Resource Institute has a Hope for All Seasons program that can help needy families who are participating in their programs, such as First Connections. Email email@example.com to let us know about your special circumstance and how we can help.
Please note that most holiday assistance programs allow families to receive gifts from only one program.