A Well-Lit Path: A Blog from Westtown School

Ready, Set, Learn!

Posted by Nancy vanArkel on August 22, 2018


Getting ready for school takes more than a new notebook and bookbag. Help your child be ready for success by taking a few additional steps now.

Sleep: Many of us change our sleep patterns over the summer. Now is the time to begin to adjust your child’s bedtime and wake time back to a school-year routine. Adequate and consistent sleep makes a huge difference in a child’s ability to learn, and a child who is sleepy for the first week of school may have a hard time recovering.

Summer Reading: You can’t read too much in the summer! If your child completed their summer reading earlier in the summer, take some time to review the book so the story and characters are fresh in their minds. Page through the book, create a chart of characters and relationships, or journal about a particular plot twist.  

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Topics: Raising Resilient, Healthy Teens, Inspiring the Best in Kids

Dive on in...to a good book!

Posted by Lynn Clements & Victoria Jones on July 24, 2018

No matter what adventures your summer has in store for you, we hope that the longer days and warm nights provide a little extra time for you to dive into a book or two. We asked our experts here at Westtown to make a few recommendations for those looking for a good read. Here is what they suggested:    

We Were the Lucky Ones, by Georgia Hunter, is historical fiction based on the story of the author’s grandfather’s family. At 15, Hunter learned that she was from a family of Holocaust survivors and she did meticulous research for many years to learn the story of their escape from Poland to all parts of the world. She tells the stories of five siblings, from March, 1939 to April, 1947, and each character reveals the strength and fragility of the human spirit.

For the perfect beach read, After Anna, by Chester County author, Lisa Scottoline, is a suspenseful mystery, with an unexpected twist at the end. Maggie has the chance to be reunited with her only daughter, Anna, a child she thought she might never see again. The sweet reunion quickly turns dark, when Anna comes to live with Maggie, her husband Noah, and their son. Anna is murdered and Noah is accused of the crime, and there are a few red herrings along the way.

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Summer: Keep Moving Forward!

Posted by Westtown School on June 20, 2018


At some point during the summer, many parents worry about their children losing some of the knowledge they gained during the school year or worse - falling behind. With this in mind, we have asked our in-house reading and college prep experts to share a few tips on how to keep children (of all ages) moving forward.

Students of All Ages:
Betsy Swan, Librarian for Westtown’s Upper & Middle Schools reminds us of the importance of reading. Swan shares that some of the most empowering advice we can give children is that – with the exception of books assigned for classes – if you don’t like a book, you don’t have to finish it. Kids will read more independently and happily when they find a book they want to read, so encourage them to sample.

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Topics: Help with learning, Inspiring the Best in Kids

Boarding School: The Perfect Balance

Posted by Whitney Suttell & Linda Rosenberg McGuire on May 30, 2018


In her book, Untangled: Guiding Teenage Girls Through the Seven Transitions into Adulthood, psychologist Lisa Damour describes the familiar and emotional process  in which teens begin to separate from their parents, assert their independence, and latch on firmly to a tribe of their peers. Damour writes, “By the end of adolescence, we expect that [teenagers] will loosen their close ties to their families and strengthen their connections with their peers.” This process, while normal and necessary for healthy adult development, can be challenging for teens and their parents alike. Providing teens with appropriate ways to assert their independence and ensuring there is a supportive safety net is essential. For some families, boarding school provides the perfect balance of independence and support.

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Topics: Raising Resilient, Healthy Teens

The Impact of a Teacher

Posted by Kristin Crawford on May 10, 2018

Teacher Appreciation Day made me think about my favorite teachers and why they still hold a place in my heart and mind.  There are three of them.

Mrs. McCall was my first grade teacher.  This was the first time I was away from my home all day as the first grade classes were in an annex 10 miles from my house.  It was far away from my mother and I felt it. Yet, Mrs. McCall loved me and I knew that too. I wasn’t special. She loved everyone.  Her love gave me the courage to trust school. In a class permeated by safety and order, she created the conditions where risk was ok, and because I could take a risk, I unlocked the mysteries of reading and writing.   All because of Mrs. McCall. There was magic in her teaching, and believing she loved me, I was smitten and loved her back.

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Topics: Inspiring the Best in Kids

Kindness & Teamwork: A Mindset for All Ages

Posted by Kristin Crawford on February 22, 2018


It is hard to believe it was almost two months ago when many of us were developing resolutions for the new year. As we know, all too well, absolute resolutions are quickly and easily broken. This year I thought maybe a mindset resolution is better than an absolute. So, the resolutions I set out for our Lower School students are more of a mindset. We are asking the children to keep in mind two ways of thinking about others:  being kind and being part of a team.

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Topics: Communication and Children, Raising Resilient Lower and Middle Schoolers, Inspiring the Best in Kids

Gifts You Will Not Want to Put Down

Posted by Lynn Clements on November 29, 2017


Whether you are just starting to think about holiday gifts for your children, or you are looking for ideas for those last few gifts, books always make a wonderful gift!  A book that makes an engaging family read-aloud over the holidays can become a beloved tradition, and one that your children will begin to anticipate each holiday season. Time to relax and read together also provides some much-needed rest for everyone in these long days of winter.

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Topics: Help with learning, Inspiring the Best in Kids

Homework - Help Your Middle Schooler Succeed

Posted by Nancy vanArkel on November 14, 2017

Getting your Middle Schooler to focus on academics is one of the great challenges of parenting. Friends, social networking, sports, video games, and even just staring blankly in the mirror can all hold more interest. Here are six things I’ve seen great parents do to help their children focus on learning.

  • Act as if your child is already the responsible person you hope they will become. Our kids rise – and fall – to meet our expectations. Whether we say them out loud or not.
  • Be interested in your child’s learning – and share your own. Instead of just asking what she learned in school today, share what you learned at work or on the news. While your children work on homework, set aside your own time for reading, writing in a journal or learning to do something new. Communicate through your actions that you value learning as a life-long activity, not just to get good grades in school.
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Topics: Building Self-Esteem in Teens, Help with learning

Tips on Managing The Teen Mood Swing

Posted by Linda Rosenberg McGuire on November 1, 2017

When your teenager is grumpy, monosyllabic and irritable, do you find yourself taking it personally, and then, perhaps, even confronting them about it only to find it may have made things worse? Please keep in mind that their grouchiness almost always has nothing to do with you. The answer is to not engage, yet our temptation is to over engage! Here are some tips for staying out of our teenager’s moods and allowing them to get on with the important business of adolescent development:

  • Teenagers are often grumpy simply due to the incredible chemical mix of hormones careening through their bloodstream, not to mention rapid changes to their brain composition. They really can’t help it! Just keeping this in mind can stave off the temptation to take it personally.
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Topics: Building Self-Esteem in Teens, How to manage the mood swings, Raising Resilient, Healthy Teens, Communication and Children, Inspiring the Best in Kids

Finding the The Right School

Posted by Tearson Morrison on October 13, 2017

Like shopping for clothes, shopping for a school is all about fit. Finding the right school fit for your child can be a daunting and confusing endeavor because there are many options available. All independent schools have a few things in common, such as great academics, dedicated faculty, and close-knit communities. So how do you find the right school? How do you tell the difference between them? 

Here are a few tips help you in your school search:

  • Know your child’s and your family’s needs. In what kind of school culture would your child thrive? Would they do well in a large school or one that is smaller? Does your child have special academic needs to support or certain strengths and passions you would like to build on? Is a school with a religious affiliation important to you? Is diversity important to you? Do you want a school with a wide variety of clubs or extra-curricular offerings? Answer these kinds of questions to build a profile of a school that might be a good fit for your child.
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Topics: How to Pick the Best Independent School in Philly