Portland, Maine

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Education + Kids

Portland is a great place to raise a family. The setting enables kids to experience the best of a city, suburban, and rural upbringing. Sara Corbett, a freelance writer for The New York Times Magazine and mother of three, says, “One of the things that I really like is that we’re raising our kids in a city environment so they’re exposed to all sorts of people doing different things. At the same time, we have access to phenomenal beaches. Even in the middle of winter we’ll take our kids down to the beaches. There’s a really nice balance, to be able to give them a little of all of that.”

For some ideas on kid-friendly activities and outings in the Portland area, check out Amanda Soule's Portland, ME: 50 Things to Do With Kids Before They Grow Up list on the Alpha Mom blog. For affordable activities, check out Groupon’s deals on things to do in Portland.

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Education for Kids

Access Maine keeps a database of local special education, learning disability, and mental health resources for parents and youth.

About 5,000 Maine children are homeschooled each year. Start here for an overview of state requirements.

Maine Unschooling Network describes itself as a “a secular community of whole-life learners, autodidacts, and radical unschoolers of all ages, questioning and living free of institutional education.”

Math Affect is a private consultancy that uses “neuroscience based learning interventions” to help kids with math and other academic challenges on the full range of the educational spectrum. Contact Cristina Cumming at 207-233-2564.

Read, learn, grow, and play at Portland Public Library. PPL has a strong (and long) tradition of serving kids & families with great collections, programs, and services designed to build kids’ love of reading and discovery, as well as engaging with parents, teachers, and other child educators. Every PPL location has a dedicated area just for kids, for reading, exploring, and enjoying their programs.

Portland Public Schools is Maine’s largest and most diverse school district, serving nearly 7,000 students from pre-kindergarten through grade twelve, and more than 4,500 adult learners. There are ten elementary schools (two located on islands), three middle schools, and four high schools, including King Middle School and Casco Bay High School, which both operate on an expeditionary learning model. This quick fact sheet provides additional information about the district.

The city is also home to a number of private day schools that serve students from early childhood through grade twelve. For a comprehensive list, peruse these public and private schools on Wikipedia.

Sports and Recreation for Kids

Aikido of Maine offers instruction for children ages three through seventeen.

Casco Bay Movers has dance classes for children and teens including hip hop, modern, and jazz.

The City of Portland website has a list of all the playgrounds in Portland, with links to further information.

Discovery Martial Arts has martial arts and self-defense classes for children of all ages.

EVO Portland has spring break and summer camps for kids, climbing programs for ages three and up, climbing teams for ages six to 19, a home school climbing class, and space for birthday parties.

Greenlight Studio offers an indoor play space for kids from birth to age six, with climbing structures, a stage for imaginative play, reading and drawing areas, Lego play tables, trains, a kid-size housekeeping area, and a place for crawlers to crawl. For adults, there's a cafe and espresso bar. 

Maine Juniors Volleyball is a non-profit organization committed to the growth and development of youth volleyball in the state of Maine. 

Maine Premier Soccer is Portland’s Premier Development League soccer team, offering a junior program and camps for all ages.

Portland School of Ballet has been the premier dance education center of the Portland community for over three decades, offering ballet and supplemental classes to children ages three and up

The Portland Department of Recreation sponsors a variety of classes, camps, and sports programs for kids and teens.

William B. Troubh Ice Arena has public skating hours from June through April and ice-skating lessons for ages four and up.

Portland Porpoise Swim Club is a private swim team for kids elementary through high school age.

The YMCA of Southern Maine's Portland Branch offers many different programs for kids year-round, along with childcare services.

The Racket and Fitness Center offers tennis programs for kids ages six and up.

Rippleffect offers a variety of outdoor summer youth programs including multi-day kayaking trips and outdoor leadership seminars.

Sail Maine is a community sailing program with an educational focus, offering programs for kids, adults, and people with special needs.

Cultural Resources for Kids

Appolon School of Music and Art offers group and private violin and cello lessons, a chamber orchestra program, and music theory classes.

The Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine has a full roster of events for the younger set, from story hours and science challenges to cultural cooking classes, as well as ongoing educational programs and summer camps.

Cultivating Community has programs and internship opportunities for young farmers and green thumbs, including the Youth Growers program for ages fourteen to seventeen, which provides hands-on experience with all aspects of the growing cycle, from planting to distribution.

Immersion Programs at the Language Exchange has classes and tutoring for children ages four through fourteen and instruction for teens and older learners in over eleven other languages, ranging from Swedish to Portuguese. They also encourage homeschoolers to get in touch about language instruction. 

The Maine Academy of Modern Music is a statewide independent music school focused on rock and contemporary music. Portland programs include music lessons, the rock band ensemble program, and summer rock camps.

Maine Kids Code is an after-school program for middle school students interested in coding and technology in the Greater Portland area. Students focus on creating interactive stories, making games, and on the intersection of technology, art, and music.

Oak Street Studios, an art institute for young people, offers weekly classes for kids throughout the year, as well as summer camps.

Portland Conservatory of Music offers group and private lessons, as well as summer camps focusing on a variety of musical genres, from world music to jazz and rock.

Portland Museum of Art hosts exhibits and special events for kids and families throughout the year, as well as summer Museum Art Camps.

Portland Pottery has classes for kids and teens throughout the year and summer camps focusing on clay sculpture, metalsmithing, fiber arts, and a variety of other disciplines.

The Portland Youth Film Festival is an annual event for students from kindergarten through 12th grade, intended to bring the community together to create and celebrate film. The Festival sponsors the Young Filmmakers' Contest in the categories of Short Film, Documentary, and Potluck .

The University of Southern Maine's Southworth Planetarium offers laser and star shows, classes for kids and adults, and a space for private shows and birthday parties.

The Telling Room is a non-profit community writing center for young writers ages six to eighteen, with after-school tutoring and open writing hours, summer camps, a Super Famous Writers Series, and field trips.

Adult and Continuing Education

Continuing Studies at Maine College of Art has open-enrollment courses for adults and teens from printmaking to graphic design to interior design.

Immersion Programs at the Language Exchange offers courses for adults in over twelve languages, from Portuguese and Polish to Russian and Korean. They also offer language programs abroad.

Osher Lifelong Learning Institute is a national network of adult learning facilities with an outpost at the University of Southern Maine. The center offers classes, workshops, special interest groups, and extracurricular activities for adults and seniors.

Portland Adult Education offers academic, community life, and job skills courses.

Explore the world through books at the beautiful, newly renovated Portland Public Library.

The University of New England offers courses for continuing professional education in various health and pharmacy professions.

The University of Southern Maine's Professional and Continuing Education program has flexible options for adults to finish a degree or obtain professional development certifications. 

Internships

The Maine Arts Commission provides a list of arts-related internship opportunities in Portland and throughout the state.

Maine Campus Compact provides information on a variety of of sustainability internships, as well as other sustainability-related opportunities including the anti-poverty AmeriCorps VISTA program. 

Since 1998, the Maine Jewish Film Festival has curated an annual program of films that explore the Jewish experience through independent drama, comedy, documentary and short film formats. The MJFF has internship positions open throughout the year.

Portland Stage, northern New England's leading professional theater, is committed to training future generations of theater professionals. Their interns work with leading designers, directors, administrators, and their professional production team throughout the season. 

Side x Side, which brings innovative, creative, arts-based educational programming into Portland classrooms, offers internship opportunities for teachers, artists, and various experts who are passionate about their fields of study.

To learn about video production and editing, web production, graphic design, or animation and gaming internships, contact Kate Sibole, Chair of Communications & New Media Studies at SMCC, (207) 741-5768 or ksibole@smccme.edu.

For communications internship candidates, contact USM Communications Intern Organizer Russell Kivatisky, russellk@maine.edu.

Undergraduate and Graduate Programs

Maine College of Art (MECA) offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts, a Master of Fine Arts in Studio Arts, Master of Arts in Teaching, and Salt Graduate Certificate in Documentary Studies as well as Continuing Studies for adults and kids, including a Pre-College intensive for high school students. 

Maine Technology Institute (MTI) has seven Advanced Technology Development Centers across the state to provide business incubation and help nurture young, entrepreneurial companies in Maine, including the Upstart Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Maine campus in Orono and the Maine Center for Entrepreneurs at the University of Southern Maine in Portland.

Southern Maine Community College (SMCC) offers nearly forty areas of study including business, health, education, the arts, trades, and the natural and social sciences. Qualified high school students can also enroll in courses for college credit.

University of New England (UNE), with campuses in both Portland and Biddeford, offers a range of undergraduate and graduate programs.

University of Southern Maine (USM) offers both undergraduate and graduate programs, with more than seventy areas of study. USM also offers opportunities for qualified high school students to enroll in courses through their Early Study Aspiriations Program.