Even the most DIY type of parent has to admit that there are times when it’s really nice to learn something from an actual person instead of a book, to ask — not Google — actual questions, and to get actual answers (answers from someone who isn’t one of the faceless, semi-literate commenters online). Plus: Going to a class is a great way to meet friends … and also, showing up for a two-hour class seems at times to be more efficient than slogging through 20 chapters of My Toddler, Myself, no?
Anyway. There’s an embarrassment of riches in this city for parental education, and they go way beyond childbirth classes. (Those are good, too, but a whole ‘nother post.) Want to learn about baby nutrition? There’s a class for that. Want help potty-training? Or learning baby sign language? Or talking about sex with your kid? There are classes for all those things, if you know where to look and keep your eyes peeled.
The following list is by no means exhaustive, but it is a great list of places to check up on from time to time, to follow on Facebook, to keep your eye on, so you can opt in if the right class pops up.
The spot: Ali’s Wagon (Fairmount)
The scoop: This charming, homey boutique has a parenting center in the back, and owner Jessie Menken has run and continues to runs a whole variety of great programming for parents in the space, from breastfeeding groups to meet and greets with pediatricians (like Alexis Lieberman of Fairmount Pediatrics) and sleep coaches (like Andrea Elovson of Sleepy Bug) to infant massage workshops, and a whole lot more. If you’re in or near the neighborhood, this place is a no-brainer. Prices vary.
The spot: Bache-Martin (Fairmount)
The scoop: In addition to the great kids’ classes and playgroups, the Fairmount school is also the site of the occasional Saturday two-hour parenting session with parenting coach Brandi Davis, whose led recent seminars on such topics as helping a big brother/sister welcome a new baby into a house, how to understand children’s feelings, how to make mornings work more smoothly, and more. Classes are $15 a person (and some of that cash goes toward the Bache HSA).
The spot: Center City Pediatrics (Grad Ho)
The scoop: Along with a great weekly lactation group, this popular pediatrician office offers on occasion workshops and classes for parents — and you needn’t be a patient to sign up. Past sessions have included a working mom support group and workshop, infant preparedness, a seminar on parenting with “more joy and less angst”, sleep training sessions with the great Andrea Elovson, and much more. Prices vary. The FB page is especially good for consistent and helpful updates.
The spot: Cloth (South Philly)
The scoop: Aside from the FREE babywearing and cloth-diapering workshops this awesome South Philly boutique offers on a regular basis, you can also find other topical sessions that have ranged from childbirth to infant care basics to breastfeeding (the last of which is with the fab doula, Brittany McCollum, who teaches breastfeeding, childbirth and infant and toddler nutrition at several spots around town!). Prices vary … but remember, some of ’em are FREE!
The spot: Hall-Mercer (Wash West)
The scoop: The Penn Med-affiliated program is really well known for its weekly playgroups and discussion groups that focus on informal mom education (via a facilitator and via peers) while the kids play. It’s not a “class” in the way that most of us would consider a class, more of a playgroup with a chance to learn about your kid’s particular developmental stage while your child present, and to get advice from childcare professionals. A session runs roughly two months; prices vary by age group.
The spot: Mama’s Wellness Joint (Wash West)
The scoop: The wonderful, nurturing yoga studio is forever offering wonderful, nurturing classes and workshops that go way beyond yoga (and also beyond childbirth, though those are popular classes, too). There’s been infant massage, basic newborn care and feeding (with doula and Pennsy nurse Emily Sadri), sleep classes, going back to work workshops and more. Not surprisingly, it’s a very mama-friendly and family-friendly spot.
The spot: My Fabulous Mama (Grad Ho)
The scoop: This relative newcomer to the Philly parent scene already has a big presence in the Philly parenting scene, offering everything from shopping to mommy-and-me classes to a whole range of baby-planning services and parenting help (from registry consultation to nursery organization to help with preschool selection). In addition to all that help, owner Marisa Piccarreto brings in pros to lead parent-focused classes, groups and workshops in the boutique’s parenting center — i.e. toddler behavior workshops, breastfeeding support group and estate planning for young parents. Prices vary.
The spot: Nest (Gayborhood)
The scoop: Like Hall-Mercer, Nest tends to offer discussion/playgroups that incorporate playtime and learning for kids and discussion and social time for parents. In the Hatchlings class (for parents of babies from six weeks to six months), a childhood development expert leads discussions on topics like changes in relationships, infant development, even the occasional foray into baby yoga and sleep training. Prices vary by class, and with and without membership.
The spot: Pennsy (Wash West)
The scoop: Most hospitals offer some form of childbirth and/or nursing classes, but Pennsy also offers courses on baby-care basics, baby CPR, The Happiest Baby on the Block, infant massage, and more. Prices vary.