A Well-Lit Path: A Blog from Westtown School

Kristin Crawford

Kristin Crawford, the Lower School Principal at Westtown School, has over 30 years experience in elementary education. In her 25 plus years of classroom teaching, she led Pre-K to 12th grade curricular review work, empowered children to restore a marsh and woodlands, initiated programs for local nursery school teachers and pushed to add Mandarin in a lower school. A fascination with how children think motivated her to develop a physics lab for young girls and a design lab at Westtown. With a Masters in Independent School Leadership from University of Pennsylvania, she moved into Admissions and then to divisional leadership. Kristin says "By far the favorite part of my job is the children. Children always have their own way of thinking, and we adults don't always get it. They make my laugh, they make me think and they make me want Lower School to be the best school for them. When school is over each day, I want to be outside. Actually, I often want to be outside during the day and have been known to take my phone outside to the sun and air to answer emails."

Recent Posts

It Would Be Better If...

Posted by Kristin Crawford on January 10, 2019

Happy New Year!  Otherwise known as a time of optimistic self-improvement.

One of the skills required of parenthood and teaching is the ability to identify areas for potential improvement in children. We can believe a little more of this or a little less of that would benefit our children greatly. But we often make such determinations from our own point of view. If only they did ____ everything would be better. And our children give us daily reality checks that what we deem needs improvement may not be what they recognize as worthy of attention. What we see as encouragement for self-improvement and growth, they could describe as nagging. Maybe rightly so. 

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Topics: Inspiring the Best in Kids

The Power of Emotions

Posted by Kristin Crawford on October 22, 2018

In Meeting for Worship, a first grader was moved to share the message bubbling up in her. “Every day isn't always going to be cupcakes and rainbows.  Some days you have to pause and take a moment for your emotions.”

Emotions are a full-blown reality for children.  Happiness, frustration, anger, joy, silliness, excitement, disappointment.  They swirl around in their minds and bodies.

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Topics: Help with learning, Raising Resilient Lower and Middle Schoolers

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

Holiday Shopping: What to Give and Why

Posted by Kristin Crawford 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

Problem Solving for Parents

Posted by Kristin Crawford 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

Parent Teacher Conferences: What Parents Can Do To Prepare

Posted by Kristin Crawford on October 7, 2015

Anticipation of conferences with teachers creates a whole range of feelings for parents:  nervousness, excitement, curiosity, uncertainty. The most successful conferences are based on dialogue – a back and forth of sharing what the teacher and the parent know and hope for the child. You, as the parent, know the child as no one else. You are the advocate, the realist, and the holder of aspirations.  

The teacher knows the child as a learner. How does s/he approach the tasks of learning?  How does the child learn and play within a community of other children? The parent sees the child as one, and the teacher sees the child as a unique one in relation to many other children. When those two perspectives are combined, the strongest partnership between home and school can be built.  

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Topics: Communication and Children, Inspiring the Best in Kids

Snow Lessons: Nine Discoveries for Young Kids

Posted by Kristin Crawford on February 17, 2015

kid_in_snowWhen I was little, it seemed to snow and snow all winter.  I grew up in Maryland but if it was winter there was snow and ice.  Snow to sled on and ice to skate on.  Well, actually sledding was more like careening – as fast as you could, over the large speed bumps and landing with a thud on the frozen pond.  Skating was a process of trying and failing.

What’s to be learned from hours outside in the freezing cold?  Plenty. 

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Topics: Raising Resilient Lower and Middle Schoolers

Tips for helping young kids find their independence

Posted by Kristin Crawford on February 9, 2015

Most of the struggles of parenting of young children stem from children’s fierce desire to be independent.  In fact, independence is the work of childhood

From the moment children are born, all the milestones are about independence:  sitting up, holding a cup, crawling, walking.  Leap forward to learning to ride a bike without training wheels or jumping in the pool or go way out to the teenage years – one of the biggest milestones – learning to drive.  And what do you do when you learn to drive?  You drive away from your parents!

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Topics: Raising Resilient Lower and Middle Schoolers