4 tips on teaching emotional, social skills through craft

Consider the specific needs of the child when selecting materials just one of the ways to use art to benefit kids

Teaching kids social and emotional skills is getting renewed attention, and arts and crafts are a good way to do that, at home as well as at school.

“Anxiety and depression are on the rise for young people,” says Melissa Schlinger, a vice-president at the Chicago-based Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning, an advocacy and research organization that tries to make social and emotional learning a priority in education.

Jacqueline Jodl, executive director of the Aspen Institute’s National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development, concurs. “Families and parents are requesting help with social and emotional learning,” she says. “Teachers also are really starting to express demand for it, and the business community continues to express demand for students with a broader cross-section of skills.”

Why does art help?

“Because there is a lot of invention and also trials and tribulations that get worked out in the creative process, a child can learn how to manage frustration,” says Marygrace Berberian, a licensed art therapist and clinical social worker. “They’re also learning to connect to more emotional aspects of themselves that are not necessarily encouraged in other aspects of their lives.”

Four ways to more intentionally integrate social and emotional learning into youth art projects, at home, school or anywhere:

1. Consider the specific needs of the child when selecting materials.

“Art materials range from being controlled to very expressive,” Berberian says. A child seeking control might benefit from beading or pencil drawing, for example, whereas a child who needs to let go and be more expressive might learn more from working with paints or clay, which encourage spontaneity.

2. Give kids agency over their projects.

Give students the freedom to “interpret a project or prompt through their own experience and perspectives,” says Christian Ortiz, senior manager of studio programs at Marwen, a visual-arts organization for youth in Chicago. For example, Marwen hosted a printmaking class in which students were asked to create small patches depicting what was important to them, he says.

Berberian advises parents not to dictate how a child should do an art project at home. Rather, they should be “affirming the child’s process” through dialogue: Ask kids about their creations, the decisions they made and why.

3. Create a lesson along with a project.

Melissa Mellor, a spokeswoman for Jodl’s commission at the Aspen Institute, recalls an art project that her first-grade son did in school that focused on learning from mistakes. The class read a book about a girl who made a mistake on a project and turned it into something beautiful. Then, each student received a piece of paper with marks already on it and, using permanent marker, was tasked with turning it into a new piece of art. The goal was to teach flexibility, problem solving, creativity and the ability to grow from mistakes.

4. Make art together.

“When people make art together or engage in creative processes together, it’s a natural form of empathy-building because you’re doing something together, mirroring each other and celebrating each other’s artistic practice,” says Berberian.

Molly Sprayregen, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

$220K for Okanagan Rail Trail loo

Successful proposal for Westkal Road comes ‘well within project budget’

Kelowna’s Gallagher’s Canyon announced as course participating in BC Golfathon for ALS

The initiative raises awareness and funds for the ALS Society of BC

Flair Airlines adds Kelowna to new summer schedule

Flair will be delaying the launch of service into Ottawa and Atlantic Canada

Kelowna Art Gallery offers free admission for June

The gallery reopened its doors with restrictions on June 2

WATCH: North Okanagan golf cart stolen, then returned

Homeowners have footage of two men taking the cart and then bringing it back

Greater Victoria drive-thru window smashed after man receives burger without mustard

Greater Victoria Wendy’s staff call police after man allegedly rips Plexiglas barrier off window

Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen pre-approves temporary expanded patios during COVID-19 pandemic

Blanket pre-approval granted to all licensees within regional district’s boundaries

UBC announces downtown Kelowna campus

Construction not anticipated to begin for two years, due to zoning processes

Murder charge upgraded in George Floyd case, 3 other cops charged

Floyd’s family and protesters have repeatedly called for criminal charges against all four officers

As two B.C. offices see outbreaks, Dr. Henry warns tests don’t replace other measures

Physical distancing, PPE and sanitizing remain key to reduce COVID-19 spread

Titanic fails to successfully cross Atlantic a second time

I can hold her in my two hands. She is tiny and… Continue reading

Osoyoos man arrested, charged with possession of child pornography

Shawn Barry Titus, 37, was arrested at a motel in Osoyoos on May 21

Most Read