The Beneficial Effects of Art Education on Emotionally Disturbed Children

Art education is far more important that some people think, but it only helps children when it’s done by the right person, and by the right way.
As everything in life, this is no different from any other subjects we learn, or we want our children to learn. We can be excellent students if the teacher is just not living up for her job. And we don’t have to be the brightest one in class if the person who works with us can actually find the way to bring out whatever there is inside of us.

Today art is being used for therapies. More and more places start to use what we call the art therapy, especially with children. The reason is so simple and so obvious that once heard, it is hard not to use art in every day life with the children we work with.
While telling, showing our feelings and troubles can be extremely difficult for so many of us, a simple drawing or a not-so-perfect art project can tell all about us. The colors we are using, the shapes, and even the way we are using the given materials all tell a story to an understanding eye. Some times writting down a word, or just coloring the paper red or black can help us to take our anger, and let it out without hurting others.

When it comes to children and art therapy the results are amazing. Children with ADHD/ADD, violent behavior,or mental/physical disabilities are given the time and the oppurtinity to sit down with the therapist, and do whatever they feel like doing at the time. If it is drawing, than they can draw, if it is singing, than they can sing, if it is just sitting quietly for the whole time, than they do nothing else but sit quietly together. The therapist does not tell the child what to do, what to talk about but lets the child lead the whole session. Some of the children would start cutting, or just “making a big mess with apint” – but it is all O.K. The therapist is there to observe, ask questions to try to figure out what is it ecaxtly that was on the child’s mind at the time. Disturbed children usually open up about their fears and feelings without even realizing it, and the more they are allowing themselves to open up and work on those issues, the better they get.

Art education could be just as helpful to children than art therapy itself. Allowing themselves to freely create tools to open a window to their minds, children can easier get over some issues and feelings than just by having to talk about them. The younger age art is introduced and allowed to children, the better.

As a parent, we all should try to provide our children more and more ways to get creative in their own homes. Have colorful and inviting papers in their rooms, childe safe tools to cut, shred, sharpen, glue or even do hand works. Have all kinds of materials around all the time so the child could have free excess to them when he is bored.

As pre-school teachers we should try to have more and more class rooms set up with the idea that children should be able to create arts, sounds or make belive scenes to express themselves. More and more daycares already work with the “devided room idea”. The room is devided into 5 major areas:
1. art corner – a corner to use paint, color, glue, markers, etc.
2. block area – a corner to build with blocks, lego, foam blocks on the carpit
3. quiet area – a corner to be able to get away from others, to read, to relax
4. make-belive area – a corner to use old clothes, pastic toys to act out scenes
5. table top toys – an area with clean, flat table and all the social and appropriate table top toys that allowes children to play together.
The more I work with children the more I see that there is a need for a Sixth corner if possible – a music corner. I really think that music is just as important art, if not one of the most important arts, than all the rest of the art areas.
At age 2,3,4,5 children don’t really need education. They just need to play. By playing they learn, they communicate, they develop.

In schools, where children are getting more controll over their skills, and learn to deal with responsibilities, art education is even more important than before. This is the time when they have to learn to face our difficult world. This is the critical time for them to cope with feelings, relationships, and problems.
Again, I cannot tell you how important it is to have the right person with the right mind to work with these children.

But no matter who and where is teaching our children, the most important thing for us, parents to know, that no matter how “bad” that art work might look to us, it is still our children’s deepest fears, feelings and hopes. Whatever they create we should support, and handle with sensitivity. Art is not competition and should not be used to put our children into boxes of good or better, bad or worst.