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Dads in the park

July 27, 1 to 3 p.m.

Lake Elkhorn Park Pavilion

Enjoy an exciting afternoon with the Office of Children and Families (OCF) as we celebrate fathers and their children, age five and under. This family friendly pop-up event is a great way to socialize through play, have fun and enjoy snacks together. View the flier.

Pre-registration is encouraged; for more information, email Ovan Shortt or call 410-313-1453 (voice/relay).  

A dad and his son playing in the park
View the full schedule of July Parent Workshops
Young boy in airport wearing a backpack and pulling a suitcase

Are we there yet? Travel activities for children

July 2, 7 to 8 p.m. / Virtual workshop / Register Traveling by plane, train, or automobile this summer? Get hands-on travel activities to keep little ones engaged while getting from “here to there.” Tips on entertainment ideas, survival strategies and practical advice to help make your upcoming trip a success!

Picky eating: How to help your child grow and eat a balanced diet

July 23, 1 p.m. / Virtual workshop / Register Helping your infant and toddler build healthy eating habits for life is important but daunting. Review typical infant to toddler development, eating patterns, growth, and how to determine when to ask for help. 

Roving Radish mobile food truck

The NEW Roving Radish Mobile Market connects Howard County residents with affordable, healthy and farm fresh food. The van will make 12 stops each week throughout the County this Summer. Learn more on the Roving Radish Mobile Marketplace page.

Roving Radish meal kits: Fresh ingredients, simple recipes

Add healthy variety to your family meals this summer with Roving Radish Meal Kits. Children can help with dinner since the pre-assembled kits provide easy prep. The produce (dicing, slicing, cubing, etc.) and portioning spices, liquids and condiments for the recipes is done for you. Each week you can order from two different meal kit options: a Meat Meal Kit and a Veggie Meal Kit. Each meal kit includes two recipes with four generous servings. Cost is $40 per kit ($20 per kit for subsidized). To learn more about meal kits, food options and pick up locations, visit the Roving Radish online.

Involve your kids in meal prep & planning

Whenever possible, encourage your children to learn how and why nutritious food supports healthy growth and development. Kids may be more willing to try foods that they helped grow, choose or prepare. To involve your child in meal planning, browse cookbooks together or check out family-friendly cooking websites.

Visit local farmer’s markets as a family to choose fresh and healthy ingredients. Grow vegetables in your own garden, on the windowsill or in outdoor pots and then include the home-grown harvest in meals. For more ways to enjoy cooking with your children while raising an adventurous eaters along the way, read the 5 Great Reasons to Cook with Your Kids.

Need help with a picky eater? Sign up for OCF's virtual workshop, Picky eating: How to help your child grow and eat a balanced diet on July 23, at 1 p.m.

Summer Fun for Howard County Families
Hello Summer cropped

Columbia Association (CA) summer events

CA offers many free activities throughout the summer such as concerts, movies, dancing, and more. View the Summer Events Calendar for details.

Summer concerts

Bring a blanket and a picnic while enjoying the musical sounds of summer. Concerts are held at the Centennial Park Amphitheater on Wednesday nights, starting at 7 p.m. Free for all ages. View the schedule.

Explore new parks and trails in Howard County

Howard County is known for its regional and neighborhood parks, accessible playgrounds, nature trails and more, with options for all ages and abilities. Get more information about local parks, playgrounds and trails.

Help kids connect to the rhythms of their natural world and fill your summer with joyful, outdoor play from Tinkergarten!

Check out two of Tinkergarten's favorite ideas about how to set up a summer schedule that works for your family and how to set up simple play centers that keep kids playing for days and days.

Howard County Library System (HCLS)

Check out more than books this summer at your local library branch. Visit the HCLS summer calendar of events to choose from a variety of classes, including technology training, career development, arts and crafts, school readiness, play partners, health and wellness, language learning, and more programs, for all age groups.

Play For All Fest

Sunday, July 28, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. /

Laura’s Place, Blandair Park North, 5750 Oakland Mills Road, Columbia

To celebrate July as Disability Pride month and National Recreation and Parks month, Howard County Recreation and Parks (HCRP) will host the Play for All Fest. The event will take place in the county’s largest playground, with adaptive implements and sensory components for individuals of all ages and abilities. Enjoy inclusive playground games, a bounce house, an inflatable obstacle course, face painting, sports try-its, fitness and Zumba classes, playground bingo, and much more. Click here for details.

Talk, Sing and Point

Life can be a musical with your child! Using a playful sing-song voice can keep your baby’s attention as they are learning language and developing in the first few years. Babies learn language from the very beginning, so the more you talk, sing and point, the better! Everything can be a song from getting dressed to making dinner! Try pointing to objects or holding them up when you are talking to help your child make connections. Your child will be your biggest fan no matter what your level of singing ability! Want more Basics Insights? To receive tips directly to your phone, sign up for weekly text messages with suggestions based on your child’s developmental stage, from birth to age five. For more ideas, view "How Children Learn to Explore through Movement and Play" in English or Spanish.

Sign up for The Basics
Asian young mother and infant

You are your baby's first teacher!

As their child's first playmate, parents promote an infant’s early learning and play skills development. When parents provide continuous moments of meaningful play with their little ones, they are building strong bonds of love and attachment, and helping them to feel safe and confident to explore and learn. This lays the foundation for learning and play for the preschool and school age years. Here are several resources for parents to engage with their infants while promoting their learning and play skills development:

Independent play is key to counter children's declining mental health

The need to reclaim independent play is crucial to foster resilient, self-reliant, and mentally healthy young children, and counter children's declining mental health in a world dominated by structured routines and overprotection. Listen and learn more about encouraging independent play in the Harvard Edcast podcast.

Young child at a doctor's visit

Plan a well-child visit

Well-child visits are important for keeping children healthy, especially in the earliest years when children are growing rapidly. A well-child visit includes a complete physical exam. At this exam, the health care provider checks the child’s physical, social and emotional development to find or prevent problems. Even if a child is healthy, well-child visits are a good time to focus on a child’s wellness. Here are some resources to learn more:

  • Well visits help keep children healthy so they can play, learn, and grow! Check out these tips to help any visit go more smoothly.
  • This Sesame Street video will help your children learn what to expect when they visit the doctor. Try role-playing a checkup; take turns being doctor or nurse!
  • Strong communication among a child’s health team enables doctors and nurses to get the information they need to give the best treatment. This resource offers tips to share with families when communicating with health care providers.
A family watching a fireworks display

4th of July safety tips for the whole family

Fourth of July celebrations often include fireworks displays lighting up the night sky, creating memories for children and adults alike. You may be eager to take the whole family to enjoy the beauty of these displays, but before you do, consider the age of your child and family friendly alternatives to celebrate. Young children may be fearful of the loud sudden sounds that are synonymous with fireworks. Keep safety in mind, particularly with young children, and keep fireworks away from them. For ideas to keep your family safe while still enjoying the holiday, visit:

Howard County School System (HCPSS) Summer  Resources for Families

HCPSS 2024 free summer meal program

The HCPSS free summer meal program will run weekdays, June 24 to August 2, on days schools are open. Meals will be provided to any HCPSS students, any children age 18 and under and to students participating in HCPSS summer programs. Site locations available across the county.

Media literacy and managing exposure

July 25, 6 p.m. / Free virtual workshop / Register

Backpack Healthcare is partnering with HCPSS to provide community resources for parents to help them raise strong, resilient kids in today's digital world. The webinar series offer techniques to help navigate parenting challenges around media. Free. For more tips, read Media Guidelines for Kids of All Ages from Child Mind Institute

A Middle Eastern mother and son

Is your child ready for kindergarten?

Fall 2024 registration for new students or students entering public school kindergarten is underway for all Howard County Public Schools. Kindergarten is mandatory in Maryland; children that turn five by September 1, 2024, are eligible to start kindergarten this fall. For more information, download the registration flier in English, Chinese, Spanish and Korean. Learn more about readiness in the July Kindergarten Readiness Newsletter.

Kindergarten, here we come!  

Children entering Kindergarten in the fall and a parent will have fun with stories and activities in this 45 to 60 minute program, co-sponsored by Friends & Foundation of HCLS and Howard County Public School System. Incoming Kindergartners get to board a real school bus! View the flier for details and register for an upcoming session in advance.

HoCo Community Chat logo with silhouettes of heads

Howard County Library featured in July’s HoCo Community Chat

This month’s HoCo Community Chat Podcast welcomes Howard County Library System President and CEO, Tonya Aikens. She tells our Department of Community Resources and Services (DCRS) Director Jackie Scott there is much more to the 84-year-old library system than books these days. It’s all about programming in tune with the community. Listen via BuzzSprout or check out HoCo Community Chat wherever you download your podcasts. If there is something specific you want to hear discussed, email DCRS at communityresources@howardcountymd.gov

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