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Art’s Special Meaning for Children

In Michael Slack’s Saturday Zoom presentation, he detailed the way he had written and illustrated books like Dinosaur and Boy, as well as the role art played in his childhood. Michael shared drawings he had created even as a young child, revealing how precious those early works of art remained for him.

As an artist, looking back at those renderings allowed him to trace his skill development but also his imagination. Art often holds special meaning for children, and reviewing past works can foster a sense of accomplishment. Parents can’t save everything a child creates, but it can be rewarding to save those that have special meaning, perhaps connected with a special event or a big life transition.

This is a particularly good time to incorporate art activities into daily life, with all the uncertainty and restrictions that permeate our lives. The process of creating art can relieve children of stress and help them resolve internal conflicts and dilemmas. It provides a bridge between the feeling part of the brain, the limbic system, and the thinking part of the brain, the neocortex. The activity of drawing or painting is soothing, and also offers opportunities for a sense of empowerment and healing.

Looking at children’s art can also help adults understand their feelings and perspectives on what’s happening in their lives. Children often have an easier time expressing emotions in art than they do in words. An activity like asking a child to draw different kinds of feelings can offer a great start to a conversation.


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