Early Childhood Family Education
Our Early Childhood Family Education (ECFE) classes are designed to support you as you navigate your parenting journey and inspire your child's early learning. Join us for parent-child classes where you can connect with other parents, play and learn with your little one, and explore parenting topics with experienced licensed parent educators. We offer free parent workshops, family activities, family open gym times, and more. Hopkins ECFE classes are for parents/caregivers and children from birth to age 5.
Registration for ECFE classes is ongoing — families are welcome to join our classes any time during the school year as space is available.
Register now for Fall ECFE classes
Inspire your child’s early learning with Hopkins Early Childhood Family Education (ECFE) — Parent-Child classes, free classes, family activities, and much more more!
- Free Virtual Story Times
- One-on-One Visit with a Parent Educator
- Welcome New Babies — Free Welcome Packet!
- The Lending Closet: Toys and Equipment for Families
Free Virtual Story Time!
Helping Us Grow (HUG) and Hopkins Early Childhood Family Education (ECFE) invite you and your family for a free virtual family event! We will start with stories and songs led by an ECFE licensed children's teacher and parenting educator. Then, we will have a parent conversation around the joys and challenges of parenting. After we see you at the event, you can pick up your free children's book. Details provided during the event.
These free community online story times are offered until your baby is 24 months old.
A reservation is required to reserve your space and to receive your link to the event:
Email Angela Sandok at Angela.Sandok@HopkinsSchools.org, or call 952-988-4081.
Virtual Story Time & Book Dates for 2021:
- Tuesday, January 5, 10-10:45
- Friday, January 22, 3-3:45
- Tuesday, February 16, 10-10:45
- Saturday, March 20, 9:30-10:15
- Friday, April 9, 3-3:45
Request a free one-on-one visit with an ECFE licensed parent educator!
- Current information on parenting and child development issues.
- Activities for young children.
- Information about resources in the community.
- A "Welcome New Baby" packet.
For more information, or to arrange a visit, call Angela Sandok at 952-988-5046, or email Angela.Sandok@HopkinsSchools.org.
Hopkins ECFE welcomes your new baby and congratulates you on your recent family addition! We would like you to receive a complimentary welcome packet that includes:
- Free “Brain Games for Infants/Toddlers” book.
- Free first haircut from Great Clips.
- Free loaf of fresh bread from Great Harvest Bread Co.
- Information about Hopkins Early Childhood programs and community resources.
- Child development and parenting information from a licensed Parent Educator.
To share your good news and receive a complimentary welcome packet, contact Angela Sandok at Angela.Sandok@HopkinsSchools.org or call 952-988-4081.
Nonprofit toy and equipment lending closet for those in our community who have young children in their lives.
The Lending Closet (TLC) is open to everyone and their family in the Greater Hopkins Area. The requested annual membership fee is $10. No one will be turned away due to inability to pay. Our inventory consists of over 450 items, including:
- Early childhood equipment.
- Age appropriate toys for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers.
- Puzzles, games, and parenting books.
- The Early Childhood Autism Reference Library.
We have recently computerized the reserving and borrowing process of TLC. You can look at our online catalog and reserve anything in the TLC inventory from the comfort of your home. In your account, you can reserve and borrow items, extend your loan/return dates, receive loan reminders, and more.
All opportunities available at: HopkinsLendingCloset.myturn.com.
How to use TLC:
- Go to HopkinsLendingCloset.myturn.com.
- Create an account.
- Choose up to 6 items for you and your family.
- Reserve your items online.
- You will receive an email when your choices are ready to be picked up.
We are located at:Harley Hopkins Family Center
TLC, Room 131A
125 Monroe Ave. S., Hopkins
ECFE classes are offered at the Harley Hopkins Family Center in Hopkins and at the Ronald B. Davis Center at Meadowbrook Elementary in Golden Valley.
- Harley Hopkins Family Center, 125 Monroe Ave. S, Hopkins
- Meadowbrook Elementary, 5430 Glenwood Ave., Golden Valley
Hopkins Preschools are conveniently located in elementary schools throughout the Hopkins School District and at Harley Hopkins Family Center.
ECFE welcomes you to become involved in the program! There are a number of ways you can choose to be involved in ECFE or in your child's school. You can choose to be a volunteer for ECFE, or you may want to explore decision-making opportunities as part of the ECFE Advisory Council.
- Parent Advisory Council — advise the ECFE coordinator on registration, classes, fundraising, and more.
- The Lending Closet (TLC) — check in toys and books, help keep TLC organized, assist with inventory in the spring.
- Baby Brigade — help stuff envelopes with ECFE and parenting information to be mailed to families with new babies in the Hopkins School District.
- Plates & Mugs — assist with the checking out of take-home packets for families to create their own plates or mugs.
- Classroom Assistance — help teachers and child care staff as an extra set of hands to comfort, play, or help with separation.
- Clerical — assist teachers and/or office staff with mass mailings, labeling, word processing, and other projects.
- Green Thumbs — help maintain gardens around the building, including the new Sensory Garden.
- Fundraising — help to plan and carry out fundraising events.
- Interpreter — assist with written and verbal communications in Spanish, Somali, or other languages
- Legislation — advocate on behalf of children and families with city, school, and state officials.
- Community Connection — be a link with the community by dropping ECFE flyers at a specific location throughout the school year (your choice: i.e. library, health club, coffee shop).
- Early Childhood Screening — help register children and perform vision and hearing screening (training provided).
The ECFE Advisory Council is composed of parents, school district personnel, and representatives from the community that act as an advisory group for developing ECFE programs. This group reviews policies, fees, and program offerings in an attempt to reflect the community's needs. The Hopkins ECFE Advisory Committee has also developed a variety of volunteer opportunities for parents within the program. Thank you to all the generous and busy parents who have contributed to our program.
The Advisory Council's purposes are:
- To assist in developing, planning, and monitoring the Early Childhood Family Education Program in District 270.
- To be responsive to the needs and concerns of the community.
- To serve as a sounding board and a source of ideas for the Early Childhood Programs Coordinator.
- To offer budget-related input and suggestions.
- To serve as a resource to staff in program preparation, outreach, and delivery.
Anyone interested in serving on the Advisory Council should contact the Harley Hopkins Family Center office at 952-988-5000.
- What to Expect in Class
- Parent-Child Interaction Time
- Parent Discussion
- Class Separations
- Separation Anxiety
- Sibling Care
- Safety & Security Policies
We know that parenting young children can be fun and rewarding. We also know how difficult and stressful it can be.
You are your child's first and most important teacher(s). The early years of life lay the groundwork for later relationships and learning. Parents come to ECFE to draw from the vast pool of knowledge and research about parenting, while focusing on topics that are most relevant at the moment.
What parents learn
At ECFE, parents learn from each other: how to enhance self-esteem, various discipline options, what behaviors are "age appropriate," and so much more! In our setting, parents and children come together to explore, learn, and build a positive relationship together. Parents and children spend a portion of the program time playing together in our unique environment designed to offer stimulating and age-appropriate activities. A circle time offers a chance to share songs, finger plays, and movement activities to enhance language and attention. The remainder of the time is used for parent discussion.
Parents discuss topics based on their interests while building friendships as they become a member of a supportive group. Non-separating classes are available for babies and parents. In these classes, the discussion is held in the children's room. Some gradual separating classes are available for parents and young toddlers. In all other classes the parents move to a separate room for the parent discussion period. Learn more about what happens in a class through Parent-Child Time or Parent Discussion.
This special block of time is set aside in our parent-child classes and our play and learns so that you are able to focus on your child. We hope that you will be able to leave your worries behind and continue building a positive relationship with your child through play. The environment is designed to provide developmentally appropriate activities.
Our projects usually reflect our philosophy favoring process over product. We value the act of play and we hope that you will too! We encourage you to take a unique role with your child during this time. Be playful and allow your child to initiate activities. This is a great time to be messy, sensorial, curious, and playful!
Specific examples of ways to utilize the parent-child interaction period to the fullest
- Make a meaningful connection with your child. Squat down to your child's level, make eye contact, and smile in a way that lets them know that you are glad to be there.
- Say what you see — all activities become language experiences when you extend and expand on what they say or see. Describe what your child is doing and seeing. Avoid giving praise, criticizing, or asking questions.
- Follow your child's cues. Let your child determine what activities you will do as well as the pace.
- All children misbehave sometime. You needn't worry about being judged here. Remember to state what the child can do rather than say "no" repeatedly. When two children fight over a toy, offer a duplicate or substitute whenever possible.
- Please help us clean up after parent-child interaction time. It takes only a minute when everyone helps.
Note: Children and parents are encouraged to wear old clothing. We want children to feel free to explore messy sensory and art materials.
The purpose of our parent discussion time is two-fold
One is to offer support through sharing a common experience with other parents, and the second is to provide research-based information that will build conversation about parenting and strengthen families. The parent educator works with the parents to create a curriculum that fits the needs of the group. An attitude of mutual respect is important so the experiences and resources of all group members are utilized.
Each group member is important in the learning process. In a society in which families are feeling more and more isolated, the support received from our ECFE program is becoming more important for healthy families. It is very helpful to know you are not alone in the problems facing young families today.
We want our discussion group to be:
- A place to be heard.
- A place to feel understood.
- A place to explore alternatives.
- A place for problem solving.
The facilitator will bring in an awareness of group process and knowledge based on reading, research, and experience with children and parents. Each group member also brings in a wealth of information and insight based on past and present experiences. These combined resources provide parents with many options. From these options parents can build parenting skills that fit for their family.
A variety of beliefs
It is normal that parents in a group will have different beliefs. Our similarities are the glue that helps us stick together as we utilize our differences. Out of disagreement often comes growth, change, and new insights. So, do not be afraid to disagree with another parent's opinion. There are a lot of good ways to be parents.
Our ECFE classes fall into three categories: non-separating, gradual-separating, or separating.
What you need to know about non-separating classes:
- Parents and children stay together in the classroom for the entire duration of the class.
- Parents remain in the same room with children and interact with them in varied learning and play activities.
- A licensed parent educator leads discussion on topics such as child growth and development, transition to parenthood, and how children learn and play.
- Discussion, sharing, and support take place within sight and sound of playing children.
What you need to know about gradual-separating classes:
- Parents and children follow the same format as listed in separating classes, except that parents start out meeting in the same room with the children, and then move to a separate room several weeks into the semester.
- Separate meetings begin with only short periods of time away from the children.
- Gradually, the periods are lengthened as children adjust to the separation.
What you need to know about separating classes:
- Parents and children interact and explore activities together for about 30 minutes of class time. This provides an opportunity to share and learn new ideas, games, songs, and activities that can be used at home.
- Following interaction time, parents meet in a separate classroom with a licensed parent educator for discussion of topics related to child development and parenting. They share ideas, information, and experiences with one another, gaining knowledge and encouragement.
- While parents meet with a licensed parent educator, children participate in age-appropriate activities with a licensed early childhood teacher and a teaching assistant. Children are provided experiences which encourage social, emotional, physical, and cognitive development.
Attachment to parents is a cornerstone to a person's personality. The trust children develop in their parents early in life will influence future relationships with others. Because the parent-child bond is naturally intense, young children may find it difficult to separate from their parents for the discussion portion of parent-child classes in our program. This normal phenomenon is called "separation anxiety."
How separation anxiety may manifest
Separation anxiety is especially difficult from eight to eighteen months of age. In babies, the primary manifestation is crying. Separation anxiety recurs in most children. It is a process, not a single event. Older children may exhibit separation anxiety by throwing a temper tantrum, acting oppositional, being aggressive with peers, or crying.
It can be set off by a number of things, including a change in teachers or child care providers, or simply a new cognitive awareness of what is happening. Although parents are urged to find time away from their children right from the start, separation anxiety should be treated with sensitivity. Learning to separate is like learning to say hello and goodbye. The way in which early separations are dealt with may influence future relationships.
Prepare your child
Before your first class session, prepare your child for what they may experience. A typical session will include: a parent-child activity period, choice time, snack time, and music time with parents and children. If you are enrolled in a "separating" class, explain that you will be leaving to go to a meeting with other parents. Be sure to emphasize that you will return.
When you leave the children's classroom, do not linger. Be consistent, making a ritual of the steps you take as you leave. Always say goodbye. Slipping out of the room violates your child's trust.
If your child is having difficulty with separating, check to be sure that you have a positive attitude about separating. Sometimes a parent's need to be needed unconsciously creates a problem. This does not serve the child. Talk to the children's teacher and assistant each day so that your child can see that you trust and know them. Bring your child's special attachment objects to class for comfort (i.e. a blanket, a pacifier, a picture of parents). Let your child see the parent room and point out where you'll be sitting. Tell her what you'll be doing there (i.e. "I'll be drinking coffee and talking to the other parents"). Acknowledge the feelings your child is having (i.e. "I know you feel sad/angry. I will come back. You can play and have fun here. The teachers will help you."). Most important, leave with a confident smile. You are cueing your child that you expect things will go well and that you are assured they will be well cared for.
Siblings of children enrolled in ECFE classes are offered child care by our experienced child care staff. Sibling care is available for children birth to kindergarten age. Sibling care will be open for ten minutes before and after class to facilitate relaxed transition periods. If you wish to socialize with other parents, please do so elsewhere so that children's rooms can be cleaned up and prepared for future classes.
When you drop off your child in sibling care, spend a minute or two sharing with the staff your child's needs and schedule. Write down any specific instructions you wish to leave. Children in diapers should be left in a clean diaper. Staff change diapers only when a child has a bowel movement. Please label your child's diaper bag and other items such as extra clothing or attachment items (bottles, pacifier). Because sibling care staff usually care for many children, it is not possible for them to hold any child continuously throughout a class period. If a child can not be made comfortable after ten or fifteen minutes of crying, the child will be brought to the parent. We do not want any child to become traumatized and believe this procedure to be in the best interest of children.
Note: The guidelines for separation, safety and security, and other relevant topics also apply to children in sibling care.
We want ECFE to be a place where you and your child feel safe and healthy. We ask that the following procedures be followed:
Immunization forms must be on file for each child in our ECFE program, including siblings enrolled in sibling care. These forms must be updated yearly.
Attending the program
Parents, guardians, or other significant adults (grandparent, nanny, etc.) must attend the program with their child. By law, children can not come to the program without a parent or guardian. Separation is difficult for young children and consistency is important. For this reason we request that only parents, significant adults, or guardians bring children to class.
Sick children should remain at home until they can participate without infecting others. We want our setting to be a safe place for everyone. Children who are no longer infectious but can not be comforted because they are still recovering should not attend either. Children with any of the following symptoms shall not attend classes: fever over 100ºF, runny nose with yellow-green mucus, diarrhea, vomiting, undiagnosed cough, undiagnosed rash, or pink eye. Please allow a 24 hour period to pass following a fever, diarrhea, vomiting, or pink eye before children return to ECFE classes. Please call the office if you will be absent (952-988-5000). You are important group members!
Washing hands and cleaning toys are important parts of our program. Disease is carried in mucous and saliva. Please wash your child's hands before snack. This is the most effective means of reducing colds and other illnesses. If you see your child mouthing a toy, place it in the sink to be washed when they are done playing with it. We wash toys with a disinfectant and wipe the table surfaces before and after snack.
Diaper changing is done in designated areas to prevent the spread of disease. Please wash your hands thoroughly after changing a diaper. Parents are summoned when a child's diaper is messy and needs changing. Please bring your own diapers and other supplies in a labeled diaper bag.
Hazardous weather conditions may at times prevent us from holding classes. When Hopkins School District 270 schools are closed or delayed, ECFE classes will not meet. Listen to WCCO radio, 830 AM, for school closings, or go to the main Hopkins School District web site.
Nutritious snacks are important to young children. We ask parents to take turns bringing something healthful to eat. Fruit, vegetables, cheese, crackers, yogurt, or muffins are food suggestions. Please avoid chocolate and sugary snacks as some children may react by becoming overactive and oppositional. Please also avoid snacks with peanuts or peanut butter due to the possibility of triggering allergic reactions. If your child has an allergy to any food or drink item, please let the teaching staff know.
Special needs will be accommodated whenever possible. Please speak with the ECFE Coordinator at 952-988-5000 if your child has special needs. If we are unable to help your child in our classes, we will refer you to other sources who may be able to help. A law enacted in 1989 provides services for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers who qualify as having "special needs." Special needs might include physical challenges, speech and language delays, difficulty with cognitive processing, motor delays, and other conditions. If you have any concerns about your child, call 952-933-GROW if your child is under 3 years of age, or 952-988-5020 if your child is between 3 and 6 years of age.
Fire, tornado, and safety drills are conducted in school buildings to ensure the safety of everyone. When the alarm sounds, proceed immediately to the children's room and escort your child out of the room to the designated area. Children in sibling care will be escorted by ECFE staff.
Selling of any items may be intrusive to some families participating in the program. We ask that you refrain from doing this during class time.
The State of Minnesota has, by law, mandated that all professional teaching staff, nurses, social workers, psychologists, school administrators, those engaged in social services or law enforcement, and their delegates, who have knowledge of or reasonable cause to believe a child is being neglected or physically or sexually abused, shall immediately report the information to the appropriate authorities.