Art has encouraged humans to express themselves for thousands of years, allowing us to communicate and share our inner selves with others. As children we begin to develop our self-being with colors, shapes and messes. Spending some time creating art-at-home can be used as a tool for furthering child development, while still complying with social distancing. With the current social limitations set in place by our Government, we felt called to research ways that art therapy can help children, and ourselves, feel more in control of our mental health. Using art as a tool to ~feel~ better, is something we can all do at home. And let’s be real… we need it!
Here are 5 benefits of utilizing art therapy for your children at home:
- Lowers pressure to perform: As mentioned before, art should allow all of us to express themselves without judgement or critique. When kids work on schoolwork, they expect to be corrected, or even tested! Same with us adults at work! However, when painting, drawing and creating, the focus of the “artist” shifts to the process rather than the result. Their main goal is to enjoy their own creativity! When you are creating at home, there aren’t any peers to compete with and the pressure to produce something “pretty” or “better than” is reduced.
- Self-Expression: Art opens a channel of communication for children, allowing them to express their emotions, fears, happiness, etc. Giving a child the opportunity to freely express themselves cultivates self-assurance and creates a language to better express themselves to others. Oftentimes, we emote more strongly through color and creations than we do with our words. It’s so neat to learn things about children, our peers, and ourselves through what we create.
- Problem Solving: Like the famous Bob Ross, I’m a big believer that there are no mistakes in art- only happy accidents! It’s a great practice to go with the flow, and problem solve throughout the way. Sometimes we wish we could do things differently or try again a different way, especially with our creations. So, why don’t we? Art is the one area I can confidently say, you can *and should* try things in as many ways as you can imagine. The ability to stop, re-access, and reinvent the project, plants the seed of independent thinking for kids. They already finished a project but then noticed things that they wish looked differently. Starting the art project again enforces premeditated thought and encourages the idea to improve the original work they created.
- Cognitive and Fine-Motor Skills: When using different art forms (or mediums), tools, and techniques, the brain engages the use of memory, hand-eye coordination and logic… all at the same time! As these cognitive skills are constantly being improved by STEM learning, arts and crafts are just re-enforcing those skills in a different approach. Sure, the approach is a little messier. I would argue that is also more fun! ? Like art, life can be messy and busy too. As long as we are responsible, careful and act intelligently, it can be incredibly rewarding.
- It’s just plain FUN: Art is about relaxing, taking a beat to slow down, and being in tune with our creative self. As we WELL know children have an infinite amount of energy! By using art to release some of their energy, they can focus the rest of their day on STEM learning or other activities. Sometimes, art has the ability to make time feel as if it is slowing down because we are concentrated on the task at hand. So, schedule in your creative time! Use a timer or a set schedule to help your kids foster a sense of time management. If they want more time to create, add 10 or 15 minutes to their creative time that day. Why rush to the end of a fun time? Math & spelling can wait a little longer… right?
Even if you can only draw stick figures (I get it, we all started somewhere?)… jump in! Use this time to bond and connect with your child! Times of social isolation are hard on all of us, but art allows you to break the isolation with positive new opportunities. Just because we are isolated doesn’t mean we can’t be social with our creative time! Bring out your paints, pencils, and your artsy side, facetime your friends and family, and know that even though we are isolated to our homes, we are still together in *creative* spirit.