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Why Kids Need Time to Reflect, Connect, and Explore

All Images © 2014 Ed Cunicelli Photographer Inc. All rights reserved.

All Images © 2014 Ed Cunicelli Photographer Inc. All rights reserved.

In today’s fast paced, technologically advanced world, parents often worry how the culture of the 21st century is impacting childhood. With kids’ faces buried most of the day in their smartphones – and the fear that our children are growing up too fast – isn’t it important for kids to have time to just be kids?

Researchers and parents tend to agree that it’s crucial to the growth process for kids to take time to grow up slowly, enjoy the outdoors, and learn about the world around them. It can be a challenge though to find a school that focuses on the importance of these ideals.

Renowned author, speaker, and education expert Sir Ken Robinson advocates this educational approach. Robinson has spent years studying and advocating the importance of creativity and innovation in education. He believes that there lies a wealth of inherent talent in all of us, but that most educational institutions stifle that talent by lessening the focus on or eliminating programs in the arts, humanities, and physical education. In Robinson’s view, the emphasis has, instead, been put on standardized testing rather than teaching to students’ natural talents.

The educational model of Westtown School aligns perfectly with Robinson’s educational philosophy. As a Quaker Pre K-12 school with a day and now optional boarding program, Westtown prizes engagement, creativity and reflection. At Westtown, students take the time to think deeply, connect with others, listen to each other, and reflect on their learning.

“At Westtown, we expect much of students as intellectuals, care deeply for them as individuals, and provide platforms for them as inventors of their own futures,” notes Terry Dubow, Westtown’s Associate Head of School. “We believe that students and their parents deserve a school that offers academic rigor and an uncommon level of connection.”

Westtown uses this deep level of connection to engage students in their interests and then widen their thinking to imagine vibrant viewpoints different from their own. It takes time and a special culture to do that work well. Dubow says they have a new name to describe their distinct approach: “The Westtown Clock.”

“At Westtown, we operate with the same 24-hours and 365 days as everyone else, but something is different here. We build in time to slow down. To think deeply. To connect. Westtown teachers believe that learning can happen anywhere, at any time, and from anyone, which is why our students take the time to truly experience our 600 acre campus, listen to one another, reflect on their learning and then act on their passions.”

Although much time is taken at Westtown for students to explore, connect, and reflect, this does not mean that technology takes a backseat. Westtown has incorporated a program in which technology is thoughtfully integrated into the curriculum at all levels. Westtown sees technology is an incredibly powerful tool, and like any other tool, there are times when it needs to be on and times when it needs to be turned off.

“Parents worry about how this high-tech, fast-paced culture is changing childhood,” says Dubow. “They want kids who retain their sparks, who feel safe and confident, who stay kids long enough to grow into thoughtful, realized adults. At Westtown, we prioritize these goals and build structures to ensure they remain central to each student’s experience.”

For more information about Westtown School and how Westtown can benefit your child’s educational experience, please visit www.westtown.edu.

Westtown School, a pre-K – 12 college prep school that offers day and boarding options, was founded by Quakers in 1799. Westtown offers a challenging and diverse curriculum that emphasizes critical thinking, creative problem-solving, collaboration, service and social action.