A Well-Lit Path: A Blog from Westtown School

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.

Read More

Topics: Help with learning, Inspiring the Best in Kids

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

Topics: Help with learning, Inspiring the Best in Kids

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.
Read More

Topics: Building Self-Esteem in Teens, How to manage the mood swings, Raising Resilient, Healthy Teens, Communication and Children, Inspiring the Best in Kids

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

Topics: Raising Resilient, Healthy Teens, 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.  
Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

Topics: Communication and Children, Inspiring the Best in Kids