A Well-Lit Path: A Blog from Westtown School's Parent Partnering Program

Reading: There Are No Rules

Posted by Betsy Swan on July 6, 2017


I didn’t read when I was a child.

This is a strange thing for a librarian and former English teacher to admit. I hid this fact for years, ashamed, but becoming a librarian helped me understand it.

Reading is an act of many parts –  a desire to consume information or story; the physical act of eye movements; concentration, recognition, decoding – and as a society we attach not-so-subtle judgements to how we perform these acts. Many children struggle with reading, and they respond to the judgements without being able to parse the act of reading and figure out why there is no joy in it for them. This is where librarians (parents, teachers, big siblings too) need to don our super-hero capes and step in.

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Topics: Help with learning, Inspiring the Best in Kids

6 Painless Ways to Stop Controlling Your Teen

Posted by Linda Rosenberg McGuire on January 24, 2017

Some parents find it downright liberating when their teenagers become increasingly
independent. Others find it unsettling, even threatening. Parents who crave control of their teenager often discover that allowing their teens to experience the world on their own is terrifying. However, developmentally, it is important to slowly hand over control of your teen’s life…to your teen.
You will always be their parent, but they are looking for - and needing -you to manage less of their day-to-day lives.

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

Holiday Shopping: What to Give and Why

Posted by Kristin Trueblood on December 7, 2016


We have all faced the question: Do I buy the latest item on the top of my child's list? Often the must-have toy is quickly discarded.  To shift away from this season's craze and give gifts that outlast the fads, here are a few insights which might help you evaluate what to put in the cart.

  • Children benefit from lots and lots of practice with fine motor play.  To help little fingers grow stronger so they can print, build, paint, and pour, consider toys and tools which let children cook, sew, and construct. Cook books, pie-making tools, board games, puzzles, watercolors, sewing kits, hammers, nails, clay, musical instruments, dolls with clothes, and blocks of all sizes – these toys help children develop stronger, more coordinated fingers.  
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Topics: Raising Resilient Lower and Middle Schoolers, Inspiring the Best in Kids

Vote for Books!

Posted by Lynn Clements on October 20, 2016



Election seasons are good opportunities for conversations about democracy and politics with your children. As your family talks about the upcoming election, consider children's books that answer questions about a complicated process, provide open discussion about the importance of voting, or offer a light-hearted look at the office of the President. Here are a few suggestions for your family :

So You Want to be President, by Judith St. George, was the 2001 Caldecott Winner, with watercolor illustrations by David Small. This book has been updated and revised several times and includes information about each president, accompanied by Small’s wonderful artwork. All ages.

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Topics: Help with learning, Communication and Children, Inspiring the Best in Kids

Election Season: Teachable Moments

Posted by John Baird on September 22, 2016


In a recent survey conducted by the Southern Poverty Law Center, over 2000 preK-12 teachers indicated that the current political campaign is having a disturbing impact on our children. They reported observing an increase in anti-Muslim or anti-immigrant sentiment, an increase in uncivil discourse, and a rise in sadness and fear.

We have a teachable moment this fall, an opportunity to create a different kind of dialogue in which we can talk about issues, and feelings, with empathy and respect; to practice the kindness and dignity we’re not always seeing in the world around us. Westtown has long practiced this kind of teaching, learning, and listening, focused on finding common ground and the common good.

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Topics: Communication and Children, Inspiring the Best in Kids

10 Tips to Help Your Student Avoid the Academic “Summer Slide”

Posted by Lynn Clements on June 9, 2016

As parents, we try to protect our children with immunizations, sunscreen, bicycle helmets, seat belts, and good health habits. But what can we do to prevent “summer slide” - academic loss that occurs over the summer-  and instead, foster “summer gain?”

Research shows that leisure reading is the best predictor of comprehension, vocabulary, and reading speed.  Regardless of ethnicity, socioeconomic level, or previous achievement, children who read four or more books over the summer perform better on reading-comprehension tests in the fall than their peers who read one or no books over the summer. Academic losses over the summer months are cumulative, creating a wider gap each year between more proficient and less proficient students.

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Topics: Help with learning, Inspiring the Best in Kids

Climate Change: Another Chance to Lead by Example

Posted by Wade Tomlinson on May 10, 2016

It seems we are always trying to find a balance between what we want to remain the same and what we want to change. On one hand there are traditions, habits, and rituals and on the other there are research, knowledge and data that  encourages us to modify our habits. I am writing today to talk about climate change and our thinking about changing our habits for the betterment of our world and our children who will inherit the planet.

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Topics: Inspiring the Best in Kids

Problem Solving for Parents

Posted by Kristin Trueblood on March 10, 2016

As parents, we are quick to see the problems in our day-to-day life and even quicker to articulate a solution or how something should be done. And yet, when we point out the problem and the solution all in one breath, we are getting in the way of our children developing the skill of identifying problems. To find solutions, one first has to recognize there is a problem. We want our children to be problem identifiers and problem solvers.

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Topics: Communication and Children, Inspiring the Best in Kids

Teenagers: They are Hardier Than We Think

Posted by Linda Rosenberg McGuire on February 23, 2016


Our teenagers are hardier than we give them credit for. Hardiness, resilience, grit, and tenacity are qualities we know our teenagers need to possess in order to succeed in a competitive world. But often we act in ways that interrupt the growth of these vital characteristics. When we overreact to the curveballs thrown in everyday life, or over invest in the belief that all things should be fair and just, we are short changing our teenagers from learning the tougher lessons necessary to survive and thrive in a demanding society. Protecting our teenagers from realities, consequences, hurt, and injustices may feel instinctive, but is actually counter to building strong character. The problem is we feel their pain in a profound and overwhelming way, so not only are we trying to protect our teenagers, but we also try mightily to protect ourselves from a whole host of co-dependent feelings. The trick is to focus on our own reactions to their discomfort, let go, and have faith that they will handle their uncomfortable feelings on their own. Here are some tips on doing just that:

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

Powerful Stories for Families

Posted by Lynn Clements on January 12, 2016

Stories are powerful tools for communicating the values of a culture and the experiences of others. In this post, I am offering books that explore our differences, similarities, and our common humanity. These books attempt to answer the big questions about human rights, hearts and minds. I have selected titles that celebrate being an individual but also raise up the importance of seeing the light in others. They are powerful stories for a family discussion, but I have also selected them for their literary and/or artistic merit. I hope they will find a place in the heart of your family this winter.

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

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A Well-Lit Path: Westtown's Parent Partnering Program

Parenting is hard. We all need partners. Westtown is here to help.

Westtown teachers have been down the path before, and they're here to light the way for parents. The Parent Partnering Program will be a resource for the Westtown community and beyond. Our teachers and administrators are experts in their fields who want to help parents in the grand, joint project of raising the next generation to be kind, thoughtful, whole, successful, empathetic leaders and doers. 

What to expect from A Well-Lit Path:

Blog posts
 
Informational sessions on campus and via webinars
 
A speaker series 
 
A commitment to helping parents