Parent Education Programs

Three parents looking at worksheets while seated at a table.

Westmark School families are our vital partners! This partnership is strengthened by learning opportunities that empower parents and guardians to support academic progress, life skill development, and social-emotional well-being at home.

As a learning community, we are pleased to offer virtual and in-person parent education programs throughout the year; these are open to families of all currently enrolled Westmark students. Led by Westmark educators and guest experts, the programs provide practical information and key insights on developmentally appropriate topics. See below for examples of subject matter covered during parent education programs at Westmark.

  • "Understanding the Brain Bases of Motivation"—UCSF professor Christa Watson Pereira, Psy.D., Co-Director of the Schwab Dyslexia and Cognitive Diversity Clinic, discussed why it is important to know the neurobiology of motivation and how to use it to help students grow.
  • “Inside the Dyslexic Brain: A Dyslexia Simulation for Parents and Guardians”—This recurring program includes a simulation, designed by the International Dyslexia Association Northern California, that enables attendees to experience how it feels to read, write, and process language when living with a language-based learning difference.
     
  • “Strengths of the Dyslexic Mind”Brock Eide, M.D., and Fernette Eide, M.D., co-authors of The Dyslexic Advantage (revised and updated, 2023), presented the case that dyslexia should not be defined as a deficiency or a defect, but rather as a cognitive specialization that builds on material, interconnected, narrative, and dynamic reasoning strengths that prioritize episodic learning and memory.
     
  • “Dyslexia and the Learning Brain”—During this presentation, Maria Luisa Gorno Tempini, M.D., Ph.D., co-founder and co-director of the UCSF Dyslexia Center, discussed the relationship between our neural networks and reading.
     
  • “Executive Function: Translating from Research to Practice”—This presentation featured Manju Banerjee, Ph.D., Joanna A. Christodoulou, Ed.D., and Katharine Gibson, Ed.D., Westmark's Director of College Counseling, discussing how students can best prepare themselves to meet the executive functioning demands of college.
     
  • “Normal Sucks: How to Live, Learn, and Thrive Outside the Lines”—Speaker, activist, and entrepreneur Jonathan Mooney delivered this inspirational and humorous talk about why we shouldn't be striving for, or enforcing, normalcy on anyone.
     
  • “Changing Lives with Text to Speech”—Founder of the Speechify app Cliff Weitzman discussed his experience growing up with dyslexia and ADD; how he got into the Ivy League; how Speechify can change one’s relationship to books; and what it's like being an entrepreneur with learning disabilities.
     
  • “Cyber Education”—Educator, mother, and internet safety expert Lori Getz gave an overview of how children use technology; rules and guidelines to keep children safe; and new ways of discussing privacy, friendship, predators, and overall health. 
     
  • “Positive Strategies for Supporting Adopted Children”Tracy Carlis, L.C.P., also a member of the “adoption constellation,” delivered this presentation about parenting children who are adopted.
     
  • “Kids’ Emotional Well-Being and When Should I Worry?”—Westmark parent Stephanie Murray, L.E.P., spoke about suicide awareness and prevention; risk and protective factors; and tips and tools to support children at home.
     
  • “The Road Back to School”Dana Jacobson, Ed.D., delved into school transitions and dealing with change, plus strategies to support your child during times of transition.
     
  • “Maintaining a Supportive and Inclusive Environment for all Children at Home and in the Community”Calista Termini, A.M.F.T., and Mel Brown, L.M.F.T., from the Los Angeles Gender Center, discussed of the differences between gender and sexual identity. They also provided families with practical tips and resources on how to be an LGBTQIA+ ally and supporter and how to model these practices for our children.

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