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

Nelson’s American sister city faces COVID-19 culture war

In Sandpoint, Idaho, wearing a mask is about Black Lives Matter, gun rights, and COVID-19

UPDATE: Body of Slocan River drowning victim recovered

The man was swimming near Winlaw on Wednesday.

Nelson’s SMRT1 Technologies to provide vending tech to Vancouver company

UpMeals will launch 22 machines across Canada using SMRT1’s personalized machines

July Kootenay real estate sales at record high

Sales and prices of Kootenay real estate on the rise

Kaslo council says it was overlooked in long-term care announcement

“We’re fed up … They have ignored every attempt we’ve made to contact them”

Canada to match donations to Lebanon relief

Canada is directing all of its aid for this crisis directly to humanitarian organizations, not the Lebanese government

Bear put down after being found on Vancouver Island kitchen counter

Bear trapped and killed near Ucluelet after repeated instances of entering sheds and homes

Who can dismiss the Governor General? A look at protocols and possibilities

The Governor General is appointed by the Queen, on the advice of the prime minister

Second phase of NHL draft lottery set for Monday

Each club eliminated from qualifying round has a 12.5 per cent shot at the No. 1 pick

University of Victoria, rowing coach sued over alleged ‘fat shaming’ and verbal abuse

Lawsuit says Barney Williams subjected coxswain Lily Copeland to offensive and belittling language

1 year since a B.C. teen died in a skate park, his family still waiting for charges

Carson Crimeni’s final moments were broadcast on social media

NHL playoffs: Canucks to meet St. Louis Blues in Round 1

Vancouver takes on defending champs beginning Wednesday

Simon Cowell breaks his back falling from electric bike

Incident happened at his home in California

VIDEO: Internet famous Yukon-based bhangra dancer explores Vancouver Island

Gurdeep Pandher spreads joy through dance, forms cross-cultural connections amid pandemic

Most Read