Want to help your child handle difficult experiences and emotions? Offer art materials and a time to use them consistently. Even at a young age, children are able to communicate more about their feelings through artistic expression than they can through words. Scientists now know that visual-art experiences create a bridge between the emotional (limbic) part of the brain and the thinking centers (neocortex). Creating art helps children harmonize different parts of their being and lower their stress.
Want your child to learn in a holistic way that brings academic and social-emotional learning to life? At the White Pony and Meher School, the arts have played a central role since our founding 48 years ago. It starts in preschool with “process art,” emphasizing creativity rather than cookie-cutter art projects. In elementary school, children’s stimulating academic learning is coupled with aesthetic expression. Adding art to their math pages heightens concentration and the absorption of concepts in a whole-brain, whole-heart way.
Thinking Like Artists
Then there is the art studio where Rhode Island School of Design graduate Lara Cannon, our elementary art teacher, lights the spark of creativity, teaching children to think like artists and develop impressive concentration, planning, and follow-through skills. Recently students from second through fifth grade spent about six weeks creating their own Mexican folk art figures called alebrijes. Lara says that one of the exciting things for the children was “knowing that they were working in the same way as ‘real artists’ who make these figures in Mexico.”
“Magical, Colorful” Art Show
This week Lara’s art program offers a peek into the work of the elementary art program, with an open house every day between 8 and noon in Room 16, featuring the magical, colorful world of these folk-art creatures, crafted by each of the participating students. Everyone is invited to drop in to partake in this visual feast. Lara shares a short YouTube video of this unique folk art form – making “beautiful monsters” from paper mache.
Artists at Work on Campus
Meher Schools students have always had the opportunity to observe real artists at work. Students have the benefit of watching Lara as she paints her map of the world on the playground or works on her painting for the staff room. They get to see our admissions director and accomplished artist Warren Wallace creating scenes in our Hallway Gallery. Warren is an alumnus who benefitted from the art infusion at all levels of the school and later studied art in college. Preschool teacher and artist Max Reif has painted murals in the yard behind Rooms 3, 4, and 5.
Fine-artist Diane Cobb coordinated our elementary art program for many years, and her exquisite renderings of children, fairies, animals, and fantasy figures populate many of the homework assignments and the birthday cards that we send to children.