A Well-Lit Path: A Blog from Westtown School

The Power of Emotions

Posted by Kristin Crawford on October 22, 2018

Blog Emotions (2)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.

 As educators, we know emotions are intertwined with cognition.  Emotions impact how, when and what children learn, think, and remember. They can be the simple emotions, which children can name, or the more complex emotions, such as anxiety, empathy, passion, confusion. Emotions are not add-ons. They are ever-present and often in flux. The regulation and healthy expression of feelings create fertile ground for learning.

We structure our spaces, materials, and time to enhance the children's ability to articulate how they are feeling.  Recess, discussions during circle time, rich literature, visual images, attentive listening, careful observations, thoughtful dialogues, patient adults – all contribute to children's recognition that their feelings are real and complex.

At Westtown School, we have one more unique structure where children can reflect on their feelings and reset themselves, priming the mind for heightened cognition – Meeting for Worship.  A fourth grader told me, "Meeting for Worship helps me think about my emotions more simply so I can think clearly. It calms me."

I am constantly in awe of the children's self-knowledge, their ability to make connections and their habits of reflection.

 The Social-Emotional Brain A Morning Mingle for Parents Monday, November 5th


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

Kristin Crawford

Written by 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."