workshop in classroom

The halls of the Bellingham Family Partnership Program bustled with families, hugs abounded in the hallways, and parents listened intently in classrooms. The third annual Learning Together Conference on Oct. 11 provided learning opportunities for families who homeschool. The conference sessions were geared toward parents who are balancing the roles of both parent and teacher and included topics like navigating challenging conversations, supporting diverse learning with technology, and homeschooling through high school and beyond.

Parent Svea Deacon appreciated the conference session on using a “warm demander” approach to discipline, “I already have a lot of tools, but this session helped affirm what I was doing and connected into it.” As a parent and teacher of a six year old, Deacon said it can be hard to maintain the warm demander approach in both roles. The session offered specific approaches like saying things in a simplified way. “This is an amazing program,” she said.

The Family Partnership Program has grown each year since its inception in spring 2015 when it served 16 students and two classes. The program now serves 230 kids and provides dozens of classes four days a week with 10 certificated teachers on staff. The program’s development has been informed by the needs of the families and is meant to support students and families in their learning goals.

In addition to the conference, the Bellingham Family Partnership Program provides new family orientations; Learning Together Workshops; monthly meetings with a learning plan partner (teacher) to review learning, set goals, review progress, provide support; book clubs; and serving as a “thought partner” resource.

Principal Kate Baehr said she heard from many families the value of connecting with other families and that the conference was so successful, they may plan another one for later this year.

For more information about Bellingham Public Schools’ Family Partnership Program, visit the program’s website or call 360-676-6424.

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