We recently reported on the introduction of art therapy into our ECD provision in Masiphumelele. Under the guidance of Yandiswa Mazwane, a local art therapist from Masiphumelele, the program has proven to be a big success. Art therapy is a form of expressive therapy that uses the creative process of making art to improve a person’s physical, mental, and emotional well-being.
Art therapy for children can provide youngsters with an easier way to express themselves since children are more naturally artistic and creative. For example, a young child is likely to be more comfortable initially expressing him/herself with some crayons and markers than they would be at expressing emotions and feelings through words.
The program has been running with between 20 and 39 children and was initially based on our stay & play group at the library, but has since expanded to include Masi Educare. The children have been able to work with paper, ink and even clay. Yandiswa explains the benefits of this:
In this session I have noticed self-respect and respect for others is shown strongly. Children are learning to respect their own individuality, uniqueness, creative expression and to respect the creative work of others. This was very surprising because normally they will want to touch and take from each other, but with clay everybody was focusing on decorating their craft work and there was silence at some point. Although they were shown what to do with clay their confidence in showing their own capabilities was surely there. In this way, this is how we see them developing their art making skills and at the same time developing confidence. Working without comparing themselves to others was my highlight.
Another activity the children have participated in is the Thankful Turkey. Again Yandiswa explains the benefits:
We have used the following materials cardboard paper, bright colour papers, scissors, glue and colour pencils. They were asked to think of people who make them feel special and think of special times. They were asked to write or draw these person’s names on the wings on feathers of their turkey. On their list appeared lots of moms, grandmothers, aunties, sisters, and one or two dads were written. Children were asked to think about Christmas time and their birthdays and share what comes to mind first. This brought some excitement to them and they began to shout out loud for cake new clothes, present and toys. Again, there were very quiet kids that we needed to get closer to and have one on one conversations about what happens at home during those times of the year and goes back to their parent’s unemployment and poverty.
One of the beauties of art as therapy is the ability for a person to express their feelings through any form of art. For children at the pre-school level this is not only a learning experience, but is also helping their teachers to identify and help those learners that may need extra attention.