Neighborhood Kids family fun in bellingham & whatcom county


Four Great Reasons to Take a Parenting Class

Dad and daughter playing in a yard. How could a parenting class help your relationship with your child?

Every parent wants their child to grow and mature in positive ways. Each family seeks to build a deep sense of connection that will continue throughout the years. Parenting classes can help.

We all need a little help along the way in life. In some cases, we need focused efforts in problem solving; at times, direct intervention may be necessary. Parenting classes, offered in a variety of settings in our community, are structured to meet those diverse needs.

Here are four great reasons to take a parenting class:

  1. Everybody needs friends. Parenting classes can be a great place to make new friends, especially for first-time parents in a childbirth and early parenting class. Families with similar age children can often form special bonds as they go through the stages and ages of growing up together. A parenting class can also be a connecting point to strengthen existing friendships; enrolling in a class with a friend creates quality time together and a chance to grow as parents in community.
  2. Brush up on skills. Parenting classes offer the opportunity to learn from community professionals and peer-to-peer interaction. Enjoy time to clarify your values and evaluate your personal perspective while gaining new insights from the experiences of others.
  3. Get help with the tough stuff. Specialized classes focused on particular aspects of parenting, life, and family may help with focused struggles that your family experiences. In a Parenting Discussion course, you can explore methods of effective discipline and communication for kids and families of various ages and situations.
  4. It’s fun! Love it or hate it, an overly-scheduled life is a reality in our day. Parent-child classes provide for a pre-set time for shared family moments. If you sign-up for a class, you’ll have focused, one-on-one time with your child in a creative, supportive environment set in your schedule. Classes for families with more than one child will help everyone in your family learn to communicate and play together with activities that appeal to multiple age groups.

Bellingham Technical College Community & Continuing Education offers a selection of parenting classes to address a range of topics, offering both practical advice and hands-on experiences.

Along with BTC, the following local resources also offer opportunities to learn and connect with other parents in our community through classes, lectures, and other events:

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Bringing Boxing Day to Bellingham

Mom and child shoveling snow. Shoveling snow (when there is snow) is a great neighborly gesture.

Boxing Day on December 26th isn’t a holiday traditionally celebrated by Americans, but it’s an annual observance for our neighbors to the north in Canada. Although it’s often associated with Day-After Christmas sales, Boxing Day has its origins in Victorian England, when gifts were given to servants and the less fortunate on the day after Christmas.

Hopefully your family has kept the needs of the less fortunate in mind throughout the holiday season, but here are some ways to continue the spirit of giving beyond Christmas with ideas for a Boxing Day in Bellingham.

Give Back

With all the new toys, gadgets, and clothes you received on Christmas, Boxing Day is a good time to pack up the gently used items in your closet and donate them to a local organization. Check out Womencare Shelter’s Wish List to see what new or gently used items they might be able to use. You can also donate books that your children have outgrown to your local Bellingham Public Library or Whatcom County Library.

Volunteer Your Time

If you’re looking for local volunteer opportunities, Whatcom Volunteer Center can point you and your family in the right direction. Along with facilitating county-wide events, WVC can help connect individuals to volunteer opportunities that can use their skills. It’s a great option for teens to get involved in the community too!

Show Your Neighbors Some Love

Giving begins at home, right? What better place to spread some holiday goodness than in your own neighborhood? If you have access to a truck, go door to door and offer to help your neighbors dispose of their Christmas tree, or chop it up so it can be easily composted with FoodPlus! Recycling. Offering to shovel or salt neighbor’s sidewalks and driveways is also a much appreciated gesture during the unpredictable winter weather.

What ideas do you have for Boxing Day activities? Leave a comment below!

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Young Writers Studio to Move and Expand

Do you have a youngster who loves to write or perhaps a child who struggles with it? Bellingham’s Young Writers Studio is moving to a new location and offering all new workshops. Geared for children ages 8-18, Young Writers Studio’s next session begins January 6, 2010 in the Center for Expressive Arts and Experimental Education at 1317 Commercial St., Suite 201.

Young Writers Studio Moving and Expanding Writing letters of appreciation is great for skills-practice and it reminds them to value others.

Founded by Stephanie Dethlefs, a freelance writer and former elementary school teacher, Young Writers Studio got its start at the Bellingham Public Library last year, offering open-ended workshops that covered a little of all genres. At the new location, Dethlefs will offer specialized, skill-focused workshops in a variety of genres, as well as open-ended “studios,” in which participants will be able to give and receive feedback on their work. The program includes Teen Writers Studio (Grades 8-12), Intermediate Writers Studio (Grades 4-7), Flash Fiction (Grades 5-8), Kids Write! (Grades 2-4), Poetry (Grades 7-12), Publish It! (Grades 4-7 and 8-12), and The Reluctant Writer (Grades 3-6).

Publish It!, a one-time workshop, will focus on the submitting process, offering guidelines and methods for submitting writing to publications for young writers. The Reluctant Writer, created in response to parents who contacted Dethlefs about children struggling with writing, will give struggling kids tasks and tools to help make writing easier for them. Dethlefs’ goal, she says, “is not to repeat or contradict what kids learn in school but to help them find pleasure in writing, to discover ways to make it more enjoyable.”

As a life-long writer and an experienced teacher, Dethlefs was looking for a way to intersect her two passions: writing and helping kids discover their potential. She also wanted to create a community for young writers where they could connect and grow in a low-pressure environment. “Writing is an isolating activity and being part of a writing community makes you a better writer,” Dethlefs explains. In her mission to help kids discover the joy of writing, Dethlefs keeps all her workshops welcoming and supportive. Kids will find the same environment in the new location.

The seeds for Dethlefs’ program took root when she discovered 826 National, a nonprofit tutoring, writing, and publishing organization. At the same time, she knew other teachers who wished there were writing groups for kids. While taking time off from teaching after a new baby, Dethlefs decided to plunge in. She created Young Writers Studio, testing the community’s interest at the Bellingham Public Library.

The overwhelming response—18 kids at her first workshop—far exceeded Dethlefs’ expectations. Kids were enthusiastic, she says, and the program proved popular with homeschooling families. She is grateful to the Bellingham Public Library for fostering her start, but finding another space became necessary to expand her program.

Now self-supporting, The Young Writer Studio workshops are no longer free. Dethlefs will offer scholarships as needed, partial and full, and hopes she won’t lose any past participants. Kids can sign up for a full workshop session—most are offered in 5 segments—or come on a drop-in basis, paying in advance or at the session. Dropping in will cost a little more than signing up for a sequence.

Ultimately, Dethlefs envisions a nonprofit organization that includes tutoring and connects guest adult writers to young writers who share their interests. For now, however, she hopes the program will grow organically, inspired by the kids who participate.

To register for January classes, visit Young Writers Studio.

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