Blog - 17 January 2024
As the summer holidays fade, a new chapter begins for countless children -the start of a new school year. The anticipation, excitement, and inevitably a hint of anxiety fills the air. The journey ahead is a canvas waiting to be painted with experiences, challenges, and triumphs. In this exploration of the start of a school year, we delve into the emotional landscape children often navigate and discover how the power of art can be a guiding light through these uncharted waters.
For many, the fear of the unknown, the challenge of making new friends, and the pressure to meet academic expectations can be overwhelming. I remember only too well the mental impact this had on me as a child, in fact my journey as an artist started for this reason! As a shy child, I struggled with overwhelm and social anxiety, often struggling to feel a sense of belonging. Art helped me to overcome these challenges and helped me find my confidence as it can with all children. It really is crucial to address these emotions to ensure a healthy and positive transition.
Art in various forms has a profound ability to serve as an emotional outlet. Children may find solace in expressing their feelings through drawings, paintings, or simple doodles. These creative endeavors become a safe space where emotions can be externalized, helping them become easier to understand and to develop their own coping mechanisms. Art provides a non-verbal language for children to communicate their fears, hopes, and dreams.
One of the challenges children face at the onset of a new school year is finding their voice amid the crowd. Art and creativity allows them to explore and embrace their uniqueness, whether through music, dance, visual arts, or writing. Self-expression becomes a powerful tool for self-discovery. Encouraging children to engage in creative activities fosters a sense of identity and confidence that can positively impact their social interactions and overall well-being.
Resilience is a skill that proves invaluable in navigating the twists and turns of a school year. Art encourages children to embrace challenges as opportunities for growth. When faced with setbacks, the creative process teaches them to adapt, learn from mistakes, and find innovative solutions. The canvas becomes a metaphor for life – where every stroke, whether bold or delicate, contributes to the masterpiece of their personal development.
Art is not only an individual endeavour but also a great communal experience. Collaborative art projects provide a platform for children to connect with their peers, fostering a sense of belonging. Working together towards a common creative goal strengthens social bonds and creates a supportive environment. This collaborative spirit extends beyond the art room, positively influencing the way children interact with each other in various aspects of school life.
As the curtain rises on a new school year, the emotional challenges children face are inevitable. However, by embracing the power of art, we can equip them with the tools to overcome these challenges and transform them into opportunities for growth. So how do we encourage children to use art in this way?
Firstly, make it fun! Children are naturally attracted to fun activities, so a little excitement and enthusiasm from parents and educators can go a long way.
Secondly, remove any limited expectations. Even art can cause anxiety if there is a perceived expectation which can lead to self-criticism. Where possible, encourage children to choose what art they create and whether or not they would like help or direction. A great way for parents to get involved is to help the children create an art journal, something just for them to draw, doodle and write their thoughts and feelings in whatever way suits them. This can be a simple art pad or book kept beside their bed to help them process their emotions each evening and is a relaxing mindful way to end each day.
Good luck to all your little ones as they start the school year.
Kerry Evitts Artist, mum & lover of fun!
Kerry Evitts is a British-born, Melbourne based painter, psychotherapist and mum of three. She has a studio in Melbourne where you can find her painting and running group art activities unless of course she's up a ladder painting murals! Follow her on Instagram and Facebook