Art = Self-Discovery + Relief

Art is one key to opening a grieving heart all locked up with sadness. Most of us are not art educators. But we can offer meaningful experiences for children to express their emotions through art. To understand the value of art as a means of emotional relief, visit any art museum and learn a little about the artists. Many are people struggling to voice their emotions in ways others can understand by using paint or clay. Art expressly nurtures the voice of a grieving child and the quality of this language is rich. 

Teachers are tasked with incorporating a long, long list of benchmarks and standards into the everyday curriculum. We see the value of facilitating art, but how do we add this to what we are already teaching? We integrate. Art sometimes poses as a separate unit, but we are wise to combine art methods with standards to help children reach higher levels of thinking. 

It makes sense that we help children to grow socially and emotionally by integrating Bloom's Taxonomy of a "knowing head" (cognitive), "feeling heart" (affective), and "doing hands" (psychomotor) with art into all areas of curriculum instruction. To this end, I'm writing a series of lesson plans as a resource for educators to plug into their classrooms to help foster this approach. A possible framework may include: 

  • How do famous artists express emotions? A social studies/art curriculum. 

  • How many emotions can we feel at once? And can we show this with art? (I see a graph!)

  • How do colors represent how we feel? Let's experiment and report about this. (Another graph!) 

  • Which type of art is your best 'art language'? Let's try as many as we can and find out.

Art promotes exploration and self-discovery for all children, especially for the grieving child. It is a way for teachers to check-in regularly with children to learn how they are feeling and coping. Art is a way for all children to communicate and self-regulate in the same way that we support all children in our classroom, we can nurture the grieving child. Don't wait for me to write a book. Begin today by enhancing your curriculum by helping children communicate what they are thinking and feeling through art.  


Copyright (2014) Suzanne Bayer. All Rights Reserved.