Spring Playgroup Schedule

Space is limited for these programs; please make sure that you are available for all listed dates prior to registering. Families may participate in only one program, and priority registration is given to families on our wait list, first-time participants, and those living in the 11 towns our grant serves.
Register by emailing Linda Jensen

Outdoor STEM Playgroup at Sargent Memorial Library, Boxborough
We are offering two preschooler groups outdoors this spring. PHYSICAL DISTANCING AND MASK WEARING FOR ALL FAMILY MEMBERS AGE 2 AND ABOVE IS REQUIRED. Each child will receive a bag of supplies to keep with them for the entire playgroup session so no materials will be shared. Bathroom access will be available beginning at 10:00 in the library. Families should bring their own blanket to sit on each week. Rainy days will necessitate switching to a virtual format for that day. Groups will be limited to 10 families/15 children each. Anyone using Minute-Van transportation from Acton, Maynard or Littleton must register for the 9:30 group (transportation is not guaranteed if a medical appt. request conflicts).
Multilingual Outdoor STEM Group for ages 3-5 - Thursdays, 9:30-10:30, April 29-June 24
Outdoor STEM Group ages 3-5 - Thursday, 11:00-12:00, April 29-June 24

Virtual STEM Playgroups
Materials for these groups will be made available for any-time pickup at our office in Acton, or during a 1-hour drive-by pickup time with Ellie. Supplies will include a book to demonstrate different aspects of dialogic reading which enhances language and literacy skills by allowing children to become participants in telling the story.
Multilingual Virtual STEM Group for ages 2-5 - Mondays at 10:00, April 26-June 21 (not May 31)
Virtual STEM Group for ages 3-5 - Wednesdays at 11:00, April 28-June 23

Ages and Stages Playgroups
These caregiver and child playgroups are based on the Ages & Stages recommended activities and developmental milestones for each age group. The program includes an interactive story time, songs, and rhymes led by our Early Childhood Educator.
Two Year Olds Virtual - Fridays at 10:00, April 30-June 25
One Year Olds Virtual - Tuesdays at 10:00, April 27-June 22
Spring Parent Education Schedule

Social-Emotional Skills: "Sorry, Not Sorry"
Presented by Ellie Springer, M.Ed.
Go to any playground, story time, or playgroup, and you'll hear adults saying, "Say you're sorry!" to young children. And you may hear some very savvy children quickly say, "Sorry," and run off. But are they really sorry? What is the right thing to do when your child takes a toy or hits someone? If you have a toddler or preschooler and are wondering about this topic, come hear some of the reasoning behind not always making your child say they're sorry and what to do when your child hurts someone else - adult or child - on purpose or by accident. This program will be held virtually on Thursday, April 15, 7-8:30 p.m. Register for the link.

Safe Infant Sleep
Presented by Jasmin Darling, M.D.
New parents are welcome to join Dr. Jasmin Darling from Acton Medical Associates for a discussion on safe sleep for infants. This program will take place during the scheduled New Mothers Group, so you do not have to RSVP if you are already receiving the link to that weekly group. If you are not currently attending, please email lmatthews@jri.org and we will make sure you receive the link for Wednesday, May 5, 2021, 1:30-2:30.

Re-Defining Self-Care for Parents
Presented by Heather O'Brien, LICSW
This workshop will examine how the definition of self-care changes once you become a parent. The time and energy we have for ourselves and others changes dramatically after we welcome a child. However, the importance of caring for ourselves becomes even more important because it enhances our ability to care for our children, partners, other family members, etc. Participants will have the opportunity to define self-care for themselves and make a plan for how to incorporate self-care into their daily lives. This workshop is ideal for couples, however, information will be shared in a way that can be easily communicated to spouses or partners if only one can attend. Email lmatthews@jri.org to register for this program which will be held via zoom on Thursday, June 10, 6:30-8:00 p.m.
Public School Preschool Screenings
Public school preschool screenings do not take place over the summer, so if you have any concerns or questions about your currently 2.9-4 year old child's preschool readiness or development, please contact the Early Childhood Program in your town as soon as possible to schedule a screening.
Acton & Boxborough
jgibowicz@abschools.org, 978-264-4700 X3948
sandra_young@bedfordps.org, 781-275-6804 x4916
lbruce@carlisle.k12.ma.us, 978-369-3758
joshea@concordps.org, 978-202-1147
mharrington@psharvard.org, 978-456-4140 x3106
Lincoln & Hanscom AFB
Diane Mackenzie at 781-259-9400 x4500
lsnow@littletonps.org, 978-540-2503
anh_le@sudbury.k12.ma.us, 978-639-3204 or
ncailler@westfordk12.us, 978-692-5560 x2132
If you need a list of preschools in all of the above towns, Click Here
Spring 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. Does not meet school vacation week, April 21st.

New Format!! New Dads Group - Held Monthly on Tuesdays, 7:30-9:00
We are excited to announce that our New Dads group will now be 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. April 13, May 11, June 8

Older Babies Parent Group - Wednesdays, 10-11:30
This 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 spring semester, April 28 thru June 23, by emailing lmatthews@jri.org

Emotional Wellbeing After Baby - Every Thursday, 10-11:30
Funding provided by the Nordblum Family Foundation and Sage Therapeutics
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 strategies and skills. 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, so she can send you the connecting link. Held every Thursday, 10-11:30 a.m. via zoom. 

Our office maintains an extensive list of mental health providers and support groups for postpartum depression. 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, LICSW.
Spring Community Support & Education

Parenting Workshops thru The Loved Child, Belmont Full information here (fee based)
April 6: Positive Discipline for Families with Young Children
April 13: Preparing the Family for a New Baby Sibling
May 4: Supporting Sibling Relationships
May 11: Toddlers 101: Tantrums, Hurtful Behaviors, "It's Mine!"
June 1: Peaceful Parenting: An Effective Relationship-building Approach
June 15: Toilet Training with Tender Loving Care

Sensory Strategies in Early Intervention, presented by Jenny Clark, OTR/L
Learn how to help young children cope with the struggles of sensory processing disorder in their daily activities. Develop a repertoire of practical sensory solutions for infants and toddlers, which address challenges specific to the sensory systems. Strategies will target difficulties such as playing, eating, sleeping, bathing, and dressing. Participants will learn techniques such as how to calm a fussy infant, proper swaddling, mealtime “food rules”, and more. Parents will feel hopeful and empowered in helping their young child with sensory challenges. April 20, 7-8:30 (free) Register Here

Are Sensory Sensitivities Interfering with Learning? presented by Karen Moore, OTR/L
Sensory sensitivities can interfere with education in many ways from having difficulty getting dressed to standing in lines to tolerating a noisy lunch room to trying to concentrate in a busy classroom. In more serious cases sensory issues cause anxiety and emotional outbursts. This webinar will explore various tools and screenings to identify sensory issues and offer suggestions to help kids deal with their sensitivities. (free)
May 11, 7-8:30 (free) Register Here

Anti-Bullying Workshop for Parents, presented by Mass. Advocates for Children
This workshop will address the significant changes in special education practice that are a result of the state’s anti-bullying prevention law. The training focuses on both school-wide efforts to create safe and supportive school environments for students with disabilities and laws that require IEP Teams to address bullying of students with disabilities during the pandemic. This workshop will also address guidance and strategies to address the bullying of children with disabilities during COVID-19. May 25, 6:30-8 (free) Register Here

Infant and Pregnancy Loss Support Group
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. (free)
April 12, May 10, June 14, 6:30-8:00 p.m.

Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Support Group
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 the Acton-based group, which meets on the 3rd Tuesday of each month, 11-12:00 (currently meeting virtually) contact Joe O'Leary at 978-760-0360 or j.j.oleary@comcast.net. For additional resources, workshops, & evening groups, contact colleen.pritoni@state.ma.us, 617-748-2454
Spring Topic for Grandparents: "Understanding Trauma & Supporting Children with Trauma, presented by Dr. Craig Murphy on April 13, 2021, 7:00 p.m. Dr. Murphy will review trauma- and stressor-related disorders, identify symptoms of trauma in children and adolescents, discuss adverse childhood experiences and why they are important. To receive the Zoom link, email: Deb Dowd-Foley

Live (Virtual) Monthly Office Hours with Kathy Whitham, R.N. at Parenting Beyond Words
Held the first Wednesday of each month, 1-2:00 p.m. Kathy is a trauma-informed Behavior Specialist using the "No Yell" model to help parents make sense of their child's negative behaviors and build on their strengths with effective tools and strategies. Email kathy@parentingbeyondwords.com to be added to the monthly zoom link notification for this drop-in. More Info Here (free) April 7, May 5, June 2

Adoption Journeys Monthly Support Group
Every third Monday this professionally-facilitated group for adoptive parents meets virtually at 7:30 p.m. for support, education, and connection. Periodic guest speakers, family events and a bi-monthly newsletter.
Adoptive Parents of the Global Majority Support Group
This group is specifically for families built by adoption and led by a parent of color. Meets the first & third Wednesdays from 7:30-9:00 p.m.
To find out more, or join either free group, email Child & Family Services, Christina Zalaket

Spring Parent & Child Community Activities

Boston Mamas Summer Camp Spotlight 2021 List
This year's listings are from camps that the organization will be working closely with to provide you with the most up-to-date evolving information related to Covid protocols. Additional camps will continue to be added in the coming months. Summer Camp Spotlight 2021

Low-Cost Earth Day Workshops for Families thru Umbrella Arts & Environment
There will be $10/family workshops outdoors on April 10 (Windsocks) and April 17 (Bird Kites) in Concord from either 1-2:00 or 2-3:00. Learn about wind, weather and birds as you use your creativity. All materials will be provided, masks and physical distancing required. Register Here

Low-Cost Playtime Theater Shows thru Concord Youth Theater
This interactive program acts out familiar children's stories and includes a sing-a-long and prize! Have a joke to tell, or a special talent to share? You may get a chance on stage. Geared toward ages 2-9. $5/person in cash at the door. Held at 53 Church Street, West Concord at 10:30 a.m. Held outdoors, so bring a chair/blanket. If rain necessitates indoor performance, the first 50 people will be admitted to be physically distanced. Masks required indoors or out. Website Information. April 3: Rapunzel, April 17: Little Red Riding Hood, May 1: The Rainbow Fish, May 15: The Wizard of Oz, May 29: The Lorax

Low-Cost Treasure Hunt Event at Nara Park - Dress as a Pirate or Princess!
Enjoy music, games, a treasure hunt, face painting, and meet a pirate. $5 per person at the entrance. Sunday, May 2, 1-3:00 p.m. Nara Park is located at 25 Ledge Rock Way, Acton. More Information

Free Nature Connection Virtual Storytimes (register on library website calendars)
Explore plants & animals and connect with the world around us in new ways all through nature-based stories, poems, and a sensory engagement activity.
Gleason Library, Carlisle: April 8, May 13, June 10, ages 3-6, 10:30-11:00: Register Here
Concord Free Public Library: April 20, May 18, June 15, ages 3-6, 10:30-11:15: Register Here
Concord Free Public Library: April 21, May 19, June 16, ages 6-10, 4-5:00 (same as above)

Free Virtual Concord Puppet Theater with Royce & Carey
Zoom in for puppet-y silliness and a take & make craft. Sign up for one date and receive notification for all puppet programs. Held April 23, May 28, and June 25, 10-10:30. Register Here

Free Virtual Rockabye Beats Concerts thru Concord Library
Half-hour interactive movement, dance, counting, singing and Spanish concerts for young children held on April 28, May 26 and June 30 at 10:00. Registration required on: Library Calendar Page

Free Music & Movement Program with Miss Bernadette thru the Discovery Museum
Join Miss Bernadette every month to explore sound, movement, make music, listen and learn to get a multi-sensory workout! April 9, May 7 and June 11, 10-10:30. For the zoom link, go to the museum's calendar page: Register Here

Free Summer Reading Kickoff Event at Gleason Library: Drive-in Concert with Jeff Jam
"Tales & Tails" drive-in concert at St. Irene's parking lot on June 24, 6:30-7:15. Register Here
Resources for Summer Camp Financial Aid
in addition to applying directly to your chosen camp
TimberNook Sensory Nature Program has a grant from The Genesis Fund:
Contact Sherry at skenin@extrasteps.org or 978-287-7878 for this program that meets in Carlisle.
Residents of Acton and Boxboro can apply for a Campership at:

Concord Residents can apply for financial aid for Concord Rec full-day summer camps at: Application

Assabet Valley Boys & Girls Club in Maynard camp scholarships have a May 1 deadline! Contact tyler@bgcav.org or 978-461-2871

Lincoln Residents can apply for financial aid for Parks & Rec summer camp. Deadline is April 17!

Also see Childcare Subsidy Grant below

Focus on Early Literacy
Did you know.....
.....there is a direct correlation between the number of words kids hear and how fast they learn and understand new ones? Audible is offering free audiobooks for children and teens to view on a desktop, laptop, phone or tablet in English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Japanese and Portuguese. No login, no payment, no strings attached!

Saturday Morning Storytimes at Silver Unicorn Books are back Virtually!
Take advantage of this weekend opportunity for parents and children to meet authors and listen to stories together. For more information on these free events and how to attend, click HERE
"Cow Says Meow" on Saturday, March 27, 10:00 with author Kirsti Call
"Watercress" on Saturday, April 3, 10:00 with author Andrea Wang & illustrator Jason Chin
"Bear Outside" on Saturday, April 17, 10:00 with Author Jane Yolen & illustrator Jen Corace

Spring StoryWalks
StoryWalks are a wonderful way to build children's interest in reading, promote physical activity and enjoy time together outside. Here are nearby locations to find one:
Concord Public Library, 129 Main St, front lawn - thru March, "A Sled for Gabo"
Wolbach Farm, 18 Wolbach Rd, Sudbury storybook trail website
Gore Place, 52 Gore St., Waltham story trail next to nature playscape, thru March, "A Snowy Day" website
Sholan Farms, 1125 Pleasant Street, Leominster, begins at farmstand, website
Chestnut Hill Farm, Chestnut Hill Rd, Southborough website
Also in Southborough, storywalks at two public schools, open when school is not in session: website
The StoryWalk Project was created by Anne Ferguson and developed in collaboration with the Vermont Bicycle & Pedestrian Coalition and the Kellogg-Hubbard Library.​"

"Addressing Bias in Children's Literature" with Author Grace Lin
Tuesday, June 1, 7-8:30 p.m.
Grace Lin is an award-winning children's author who was recognized by President Obama as a Champion of Change for Asian American & Pacific Islander Art & Storytelling. Recent presentations include a TEDx Talk, "The Windows & Mirrors of Your Child's Bookshelf" and a PBS News Hour appearance, "What to do When you Realize Classic Books from your Childhood are Racist?" This virtual presentation requires pre-registration. Free/$5 suggested donation. Register here thru Discovery Museum
New Resources in the Community
New Childcare Subsidy Grant Available in Acton, Boxborough, Littleton, Maynard, Westford
A Cares Act Community Development Block Grant is now 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 and summer camps 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
Metrowest Behavioral Health Center
360 Mass. Ave., Acton
978-264-3553, mbhcintake@jri.org

Accepts BCBS, MBHP, Tufts Together, Mass Health Beacon, Beacon Commercial: BMC, GIC, Fallon insurance.
Parent-Child Interactive Therapy
PCIT is a trauma-informed intervention for young children (ages 2.5 to 7.5) with challenging behavior that teaches caregivers specific behavior management techniques as they interact with their child.  PCIT consists of weekly sessions and home practice in two treatment phases and is focused on increasing children's positive behaviors. Treatment continues until the skills are mastered and the child's behavior shows improvement (with an average treatment length around 6 months). PCIT is an effective treatment backed by over 30 years of research.  Live coaching is the primary method of caregiver training.  The therapist observes the caregiver and child, providing coaching in the skills through an earpiece.  Caregivers and therapists work together to enhance the family’s connection to one another in ways that improve children’s behaviors. Please contact Jacquelyn Kraps, PhD, jkraps@jri.org for more info. Other services available. 
Weekly Virtual Grief Support Group helps elementary age children grieving the death of someone important connect and learn coping tools. Open to children from any town. Meets weekly on Thursdays, May 6 thru June 3, 4-5:00 p.m. Free.
Family Night via Zoom will provide guided activities and time to connect with your family to remember the person you are grieving together. Program includes a gift card to purchase pizza or a take-out delivery dinner for the evening. Scheduled for April 21, 6-7:30 p.m. Free.
For info on other area Grief Programs for families, see this Resource List
Children's Services
Kelia Kowalski
781-373-6633 or 781-373-6570
Bedford Diaper & Personal Items Bank

All sizes of diapers and wipes, as well as personal hygiene items, available to families in need. Bedford Youth & Family Services is located at 12 Mudge Way, Bedford Center. Contact Community Social Worker Christopher Bang: 781-275-7727 or cbang@bedfordma.gov.

First Connections Diaper Pantry, Acton, information Here
Introduction to FloorTime for Parents
If your child age 2-10 has issues of regulation, communication, behavior, developmental delay or ASD, learning this technique can help you help your child improve attention and focus, be more calm and organized, communicate more effectively, play with more complexity, and better understand themselves and others. The 6-wk. program focuses on the child-parent (caregiver) relationship as the heart of learning and development. You will learn how to play with your child to better support their development and emotional growth. 2 video consultations are included to help you master specific skills.
April 7-May 12 , 7-9 pm via zoom. $120/indiv., $160 family

524 Main St
978-266-3700, Ext. 701
Communities Organizing Against Racism
Concord - Carlisle - Boston

Communities Organizing Against Racism (COAR) was founded by parents coming together to share experiences and learn from one another, so that we could engage in courageous conversations about race with each other and with our children. Today, COAR is committed to racial equity and social justice by promoting inclusiveness, valuing diversity, facilitating healing, and addressing disparities in our community with an emphasis on our schools. We do this with respect, self-awareness, authentic engagement, and a willingness to learn from one another. We strive to challenge ourselves and support each other to make a collective impact with tools and strategies that improve awareness for the well-being of all children, families, and community members. To receive information on their upcoming June Journeys series, add your name to the notification list on their website: COAR
Acton-Boxborough Family Network
for the March Diaper Drive!
Nordblum Family Foundation
$25,000 grant

Sage Therapeutics
$20,000 grant

Emerson Hospital
$4,000 grant

Acton Congregational Church
$2,500 grant

First Quality Products
for the large donation of
"Cuties" diapers!