According to the “Mental Health of Children and Young People in England, 2017”, published by NHS Digital, one in eight (12.8%) of children and young people aged between five and 19, surveyed in England in 2017, had a mental disorder.
We need to be clear, the development of mindfulness strategies will not make stress in our lives disappear or cure the pressures in our lives. However, it will give us the tools that we can access to find a moment of calm that allows us to react more positively to the stresses we face.
Giving these tools to our children gives our children a chance to cope with life and take control of their emotions.
Art, the creation and appreciation, is something that gives many people moments of mindfulness. Helping children to practice Mindful Appreciation of Art places another tool in their Positive Mental Health Tool Kit.
Mindful Appreciation of Art in the Classroom- How to Guide
-Select a piece of art. It can be a drawing, painting, photograph or sculpture. It can be a picture of a piece of art or it can be the actual piece of art.
-Play a selection of meditation music for the length of time you want the children to meditate. Usually this is one minute per year of age, ie 6 years old= 6 minutes
-Children are to sit or stand comfortably and take three deep belly breaths.
-They are to look at the artwork, focusing on the centre of the design while still breathing at a steady rate.
-Gently guide the children in a soft voice, letting them know it is ok for their gaze to wonder to other parts of the art, noticing the designs, colours and ways the lines meet each other. As the meditation comes towards the end, encourage them to focus back on the centre.
-In the last 30 seconds of the meditation, have the children close their eyes and get them to recreated the design in their mind, continuing even, steady breaths.
-Complete the meditation with three deep mindful belly breaths
Note: Once taught, you can use this strategy when you actually go to an art museum.
Find more mindfulness strategies can be found in the books: