JRI/COVID-19 Navigator

Do you have a question about how JRI services, related to COVID-19 or otherwise?

Rachel has been a part of the JRI team since January, 2000. For over 20 years, Rachel has been working in the field of human services assisting families with accessing and navigating services. Rachel received her Bachelors degree in psychology and Masters Degree in Public Administration from Bridgewater State University. She was promoted in July 2005 to Family Networks Program Director where she closely worked with the Department of Children Families for 10 years ensuring that children and families received the highest quality of individualized services ranging from community based through residential care. Rachel is very dedicated to helping the individuals she works with and is committed to improving the lives of children and families. Rachel’s passion for creative service programming inspires her in her role as JRI Service Navigator.

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JRI First Connections Blog

5 min read

Discipline for Young Children, Part 1

By Ellie Springer on November 30, 2018

One thing I often see caregivers struggle with is how to discipline their baby, toddler, or preschooler. They're so little; how do you decide when to start disciplining them? And once they get to be a "Terrible Two" or a "Threenager," how do you correct, and maybe even prevent for next time, behavior that is challenging?

I went to a training in the summer of 2017 about the Positive Discipline parenting approach. The training had some

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9 min read

Choosing a preschool or child care

By Ellie Springer on September 14, 2018

The first time you drop your child off at school or child care can be full of mixed emotions--for you and for your child, as you are sad to be away from one another but also excited about all the new experiences s/he will have. School should be a fun, exciting place where your child learns new things, makes new friends, and feels safe and loved with wonderful caregivers. How do you find the right

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3 min read

Why Sensory Play

By Ellie Springer on August 10, 2018

Do you see posts everywhere about sensory play for babies and toddlers? Are you wondering what sensory play is, or why so many people are doing it? Do you just HATE a mess, and so you have avoided sensory play?

Even though it can be messy, sensory play (things like water, play dough, sand, bins of dry rice or pasta, or combinations thereof) is a great way for children to learn many important skills. It really has

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4 min read

Dialogic Reading

By Ellie Springer on August 3, 2018

What is Dialogic Reading?

Some of you may have heard or read about dialogic reading in materials from First Connections or elsewhere, and hopefully many of you in playgroups will recognize this style of reading aloud from our circle time.

Dialogic Reading is a technique that has been shown to improve children’s language skills and readiness for reading independently. It is a technique that we use in our playgroup circle times and encourage families to

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4 min read

Going to the library with your child

By Ellie Springer on July 27, 2018

Tips on taking your young child to the library:

  1. DO IT!! You may think your toddler is too wild for the library and will only make a mess and annoy the librarians and other patrons; but the children’s section of your library should be set up for children. Most libraries’ children’s sections have toys, puzzles, and coloring for children. It’s a great place to go on a rainy, too hot, or too cold day
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3 min read

Sorry, Not Sorry

By Ellie Springer on July 20, 2018

Often, when adults see a child do something that hurts someone else, intentionally or unintentionally, they immediately admonish the child, "Say you're sorry!"

Well, that's not always (or even most of the time) the best solution. If he did it on purpose, your preschooler may very well not be sorry that he took that toy he wanted from someone else, that he pushed someone out of his way while he was running on

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3 min read

Social and Emotional Skills for 2- and 3-Year-Olds

By Ellie Springer on July 13, 2018

Social and Emotional Skills for Preschoolers

Two and three-year-olds are learning to…

  • Have a sense of themselves as individuals
  • Develop strong relationships with familiar adults other than their primary caregiver(s)
  • Name emotions
  • Identify emotions in themselves and others
  • Use words to express their feelings, needs and desires
  • Begin to regulate their emotions, using new coping strategies for when they are upset, with adult support
  • Use self help skills: dressing and undressing independently
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1 min read

Play Dough Recipe

By Ellie Springer on July 6, 2018

To make homemade play dough:

Mix:

2 cups flour

1 cup salt

2 Tablespoons vegetable oil

2 Tablespoons cream of tartar

Add:

2 cups of very HOT water (almost boiling)

Food coloring

Mix until you get a good consistency. There may be some flour left in the bowl. If it is too runny, add some flour. If it is too dry, add a little water.

After it cools, your kids can play with it.

Store in an

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4 min read

Clean Up Time

By Ellie Springer on June 29, 2018

It is often harder to get children to clean up at home than it is in a group setting such as playgroup or school.  The routines at home are more variable, and whatever they are leaving play time to do is usually not as exciting as circle or the playground.

                 See the source image

So cleaning up at home can be more challenging than in a group setting.  But you

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2 min read

Sensory Play Ideas

By Ellie Springer on June 22, 2018

Materials for a sensory tub:

(other than the standard sand or water)

  • Cornstarch and water
  • Cooked spaghetti noodles
  • Shaving cream
  • Cotton balls
  • Oats
  • Rice
  • Beans
  • Paper to rip and/or shredded paper
  • Soapy water
  • Ice cubes
  • Snow
  • Ribbons
  • Jell-O
  • Uncooked pasta
  • Dry cereal
  • Tin foil
  • Grass, leaves, flowers

Tools to add:

  • Sponges—car, doll, or toy wash
  • Turkey baster, medicine dropper
  • Colander, sieve
  • Buckets, shovels
  • Measuring cups
  • Funnel
  • Hammer (for dry cereal or pasta)
  • Empty bottles or
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A Blog to Connect Families with Resources to Foster Healthy Parenting

Our mission at First Connections is to equip parents with tools, practical strategies, and connections to other families and their communities to foster healthy parenting and guide them through the first years of the parenting journey.

We offer support groups and play groups to families with children from birth to age 8 in the communities of Acton, Bedford, Boxborough, Carlisle, Concord, Hanscom AFB, Harvard, Lincoln, Littleton, Maynard, Sudbury, and Westford.

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