Art for Well-Being in schools program

Why have Art Friends implemented this Program:

We know that the wellbeing of students is paramount to their success as learners. If a child is experiencing anxiety, depression, anger, apathy, inattention or if they are disengaged or disruptive, they cannot achieve their full potential. Additionally, their behaviour may interrupt the learning opportunities of other students.

Our program aims to help short-circuit the trajectory of these individuals by engaging them in the expressive potential of art-making in a therapeutic environment.

We know that:

  • Not all children can express themselves in words. They might not have the vocabulary or the confidence to express how they feel verbally. Art provides another medium to express and explore thoughts, feelings, sensations and perceptions.
  • Neurobiology continues to inform us that the sensory nature of art can change mood and have a calming effect on the body and mind.
  • There is a growing body of evidence that supports the therapeutic qualities of art. Many journals have articles detailing the benefits of the connection to art.
  • Music can have a calmative effect on the brain and that’s why we play mediative music while we make the art in our sessions.
  • Repeating a simple, achievable art-making exercise can be self-soothing and provide a positive experience.
  • The sensory play means there is no pressure on the child to present an end product that is assessed.

To affect change in children identified as at risk, we offer:

  • A change of environment.
  • The ability to form relationships with educator and student.
  • Time and space to engage in expressive arts with an art expert.
  • The necessary materials and tools.
  • An art-making experience that is calming and can transform mood.
  • Music that is soothing.
  • The opportunity to express how they feel.

How does this program work in schools?

Art Friends provides a number of well-being modules which can be downloaded. These can either be used as train the trainer units or can directly involve students in a school environment such as a quiet room or VPs office with a screen.

Art materials are provided along with the download and the experience with the presenter and participant develops through the art exercise and the music that is played.

We have a school now working with a working model. The educator in this case is the Art Teacher who arranges to select students who are not coping in the classroom. The student is taken out of the classroom environment only for an hour a week, or fortnight depending on the need. There are then follow up sessions for the term.

Case study
Student, female child, grade 3 level, Sky.

A newish student arrived to class with her mother, standing just outside the classroom, clinging to her mother.

I went out to assist and chat with parent. I was working the first hour in another teacher’s class as she was in a meeting. I was replacing her grade 3/4 reading class.

The little girl Sky cried “I don’t feel well and she is making me go to school and I want to stay home.”

The mother calmly told me that she had been unwell but was fine now.

I had noticed previously that Sky’s disposition in class, and she was an unsure and non-confident child.

As the mother was a new parent to our school and not familiar with myself, I introduced myself as the art teacher and said what if Sky comes with me and does some art exercises instead.

“Sky, how would you like to come into the classroom and do some special art with me and if you don’t feel like working, I will let you draw. You can join in when you feel like it. You just let me know how you are feeling and I will help you.”

“That sounds fantastic,” mum said, she was very pleased with this approach, as she mouthed thank you.

Sky agreed and came with me;

I showed Sky how to do the spiral exercises and she keenly tried.

“Sky you are doing a great job, how does that feel?“ I asked.

Sky had calmed down completely and was drawing.

“Good,“ she answered “I can do it.”  She smiled.

After about 30 minutes I asked, “are you ready to join the class now?”

“Yes,“ she replied, and she did so happily!

Inside I was thrilled. Sky had been stressed when she arrived at school, she had calmed down and relaxed with the drawing alternative and now was willing to commence her learning and it had all been achieved in a short time.

 (name changed for confidentiality reasons)

What now for these students and the program?

This program has now been embraced by the school with this pilot program and is part of the Victorian Tutor Learning Initiative where funding is available. This particular school has committed to one day a week for the wellbeing and art program and will run until the end of 2021. It is not Art Therapy but is an intervention which helps to establish relationships with students who struggle to de-escalate their behaviour.

The Art Friends series of modules are a support to the educator and offer a range of art exercises that are user friendly and have resonated with students.

Please view online the range of modules.  www.artfriends.com.au

If you would like to find out about a schools multi user package, please email to: worldwideartfriends@gmail.com

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