At 40 Tioga Way, children and parents gather each week to sing, dance, mingle, play, make art, and create friendships. Whether it’s in toddler yoga or art class, Marblehead Parenting offers resources for local parents and their kids.
Founder Sara Timm opened Marblehead Parenting in 2014 after noticing a lack of family-centered programs for new moms in the community.
With 13 years of experience working in childhood development, Timm began her career in “Child Life,” where she worked with kids in the hospital to help them adjust to being there and developmentally thrive. After that, she transitioned into teaching childhood development classes in Boston, which she loved doing.
When Timm and her husband decided to move to Marblehead, her husband’s hometown, her commute to Boston became more difficult. She began to think about opening her own business.
Starting out on Washington Street in 2014, she created Marblehead Parenting with a goal to offer a centralized location for parents on the North Shore.
“It’s been awesome,” she said.
Marblehead Parenting offers a variety of classes for parents and children, including new mom and dad support groups, music and art classes, and toddler classes.
The classes are offered through seven-week sessions for children up to the age of six, with the highest level being preschool classes that shift away from parents and focus on the kids.
“We like doing sessions as opposed to drop-ins because it helps the parents and the families make connections,” Timm said. “That way they see the same kids each week, and they really get to learn and interact more, rather than going as they want.”
When Timm started this business, she hadn’t had her own kids yet. She was looking forward to just seeing where it would go.
“I was like, ‘This is a need, I have experience, I love teaching it, so let’s see what happens,'” she said.
Now, nine years and two kids later, she’s created a safe space for local families.
“They’re safe, they know it’s clean, they know we care, and it’s not a revolving door of people all the time,” Timm said. “It’s pretty consistent, so it provides comfort.”
As a mom, Timm said having a place where parents can see the same people each week and make connections with them is huge, as she made her own mom friends during her new mom classes.
“Many of those lifelong friendships start there,” she said. “There’s something that’s very unique and valuable about people who have kids that are the same age as yours and you’re going to the same thing, it’s really necessary to just talk about it.”
Deborah Golub-Sass, a parent who has been attending Marblehead Parenting classes with both of her children since the newborn stage, said she loves the resources offered and how close they are to home.
“I really love that they offer classes that fit every age group and time slot,” Golub-Sass said. “Sara really works hard on building her class roster with that in mind, and finding teachers who are experts in their field.”
With nearly 10 teachers now, all of whom have previous experience in early childhood development, Marblehead Parenting averages about 20 classes per session.
Timm said some of these classes have a wide age group. For example, art classes are toddler-based and are available for children from one-and-a-half to three-and-a-half-years old. A yoga class is open for two to five-year-olds, and as a result has some siblings in it together.
As the first of its kind in the area, Golub-Sass said she used to have to travel at least 30 minutes from home to find similar classes.
“Having this type of play space so close to home is such a lifesaver,” she said. “I love the fact that we can do school or daycare pickup, and go play for the afternoon.”
Since opening Marblehead Parenting, the number of classes offered has doubled. An open play time option has been added, as the business began with just Timm before expanding and hiring more teachers. The first hire was Marcy Yellin, who still works there and enjoys teaching her love for music to the children.
“Sara is a delightful person to work for and she should be so proud of what she has created here,” Yellin said. “(There’s) nothing like it.”
As an early childhood educator, Yellin believes music is very important for children to grow and learn, saying that rhythm and learning go hand and hand.
“The mind and body connection is so important, and this is what music does for all of us,” Yellin said. “I wish this was available when my children were small.”
During the winter sessions, Marblehead Parenting offers a space for parents and kids to get out of the house to mingle with other families and have fun, which is an aspect Yellin loves.
“Being a mom or dad in charge of a child can be somewhat lonely for a parent,” said Yellin. “This provides a way to let folks meet up and share, and to just talk to someone else doing similar things.”
During the summer sessions, Yellin teaches outdoors in the garden, which was something that was also done during the pandemic.
“I especially found it helpful to the parents when we had the pandemic,” she said. “Our classes ran as usual and it just felt a bit more ‘normal’ for both the parents and the children.”
During the pandemic, however, classes were mostly virtual. Virtual classes were difficult with toddlers, Timm said, but Marblehead Parenting is back in-person and doing “really well.”
Timm is hoping to continue growing her business, with plans to offer more workshops for things that parents are looking for. This has been a goal of hers for years, but the pandemic put it on pause. Now, she is looking forward to offering more classes for areas like birthing and potty training, which she offered in the past
“In the future, I’m looking forward to gearing back up since the pandemic,” Timm said.
Marblehead Parenting is open to any parents in the area and information on sessions, classes, and teachers can be found on its website at www.marbleheadparenting.com.