Playtime: Free homework help, kindergarten-ready resources and YMCA open house

Jen Marx

Last week, I was able to help my third grader with his math homework. Now, this isn’t exactly cause for celebration like for instance, when men get extra credit for doing things women are expected to do in regards to parenting. Anyhow, I’m terrible at math and have an ever-decreasing memory, so personally, I was feeling a mix of pride and relief to be helpful in this case. In this same week, I had to pretend I was giving him a break and wait until the “math person” got home and I just called the top number of a fraction the “topinator” as a joke because I had to be reminded of the word “numerator.” With the difference in methods between when we did math and they way they do it now, even the “math person” in the family had to think real hard about a problem tonight — I also feel as if it should be noted that I knew the right answer to that one.

In my school career, I had to see a tutor for math and I also went to an after-school tutoring session made up of a group of smart kids who used their names to make an acronym for their services — it was D.A.D.S. and I had a longtime crush on one of them, whose contribution to the acronym will not be included. In my case, both situations were fee-based, but locally we have options for FREE homework help!

I just spoke with Pat Cordova, Director of the Alderwood-Terrace Rotary Community Homework Center — open to all and held Tuesdays and Thursday from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at Terrace Park Elementary. The Community Homework Center offers tutoring, access to the internet, fun and educational games, and support for parents and families. Adults as well as high school students help children with all kinds of homework and or even just reading. Cordova explained that the Community Homework Center is run by volunteers — who are always needed, she says — with support from the Rotary Club and Premera. The program, in its 14th year of helping community kids with their homework needs, just offered one of their young women volunteers support toward her textbooks when she heads to college next year. It was clear in talking to Cordova — whose son, Mike Cordova, is on the board at the Alderwood-Terrace Rotary and owns Cesco Medical Supply on 99  — cares deeply about the center. She told me success stories of children with different backgrounds and different needs, and how great the diverse community at Terrace Park and in the Community Homework Center is for the kids and in turn for Cordova herself. (She said she thought she’d “learned more than the kids have.”)

Anyone can come to the Community Homework Center. Terrace Park Elementary is right next door to the MLT Recreation Pavilion, 5409 228th St. S.W., and the best way to help them out is to donate your time. For more information, you can contact them at or by calling Pat Cordova at 425-279-3739.

Each Monday at the Edmonds Library, from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m., you can stop in and get FREE Homework Help for K-8 students. There are volunteers set up in the teen area of the library, it’s the area with the cool chairs between the movies and the children’s area, waiting to help out. What’s so great about these options, is that sometimes just the change of venue or having the one helping not be the one who helps the most often can be beneficial and of course, someone who remembers fractions doesn’t hurt.

While we’re talking about the library, I recently saw a post on Facebook and “Countdown to Kindergarten” caught my eye. The post reads “Are there any pre-schoolers in your life?” and while there are not, I was drawn to the “list of 100 essential picture books that have been hand-selected by Sno-Isle Libraries staff to help children develop reading skills before they enter kindergarten.” You can easily find these books in the children’s section — you’re advised to “look for the ‘c2k’ label or ask a staff member.” You can also visit the Countdown to Kindergarten web page HERE, which includes a list of the books, their availability and an option to put a hold on them. The library says it has “many other book suggestions and early literacy tips to share with families.”

Lists like this have always taken the pressure off knowing which books to look for. I still use book recommendations like this, and the Friends of the Edmonds Library Instagram has been a great resource with recommendations from a wide range of books like “Hamstersaurus Rex vs Squirrel Kong” to “Black Misery” by Langston Hughes.

While we’re on the subject of FREE local resources, this Saturday, April 21 is Healthy Kids Day at your local YMCA. Healthy Kids Day is the Y’s “free national initiative to improve the health and well-being of kids” and the Y locations in Mukilteo and Shoreline are participating from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday. The Mukilteo Family YMCA will be giving away bike helmets, and there will be inflatables, popcorn, fitness games and even ponies. They will also feature the “Captain America Show” and “Robot U” so there are a lot of different options.

We were at the Y in Mukilteo for this event last year, as it happened during a skateboarding lesson, and it definitely had a carnival feel to the event. I’d also recommend arriving early for things like the bike helmets, as they seemed to go pretty quickly. If you’re closer to the Dale Turner YMCA in Shoreline, they will give free t-shirts to the first 100 kids and give demos for exciting programs from Y Camp and Y Sports. They will have free snacks, healthy eating demos, and “tons of new ways of active play.” If your family joins the YMCA on Healthy Kids Day, they will wave the joining fee. You can find the Facebook Event Page for the Mukilteo Y HERE and the Dale Turner Y HERE.

— By Jennifer Marx

Jen Marx, a mom of two young boys, is always looking for a fun place to take the kids that makes them tired enough to go to bed on time. You can find her on Twitter trying to make sense of begging kids to ”just eat the mac n cheese.”

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