Supporting children mental health through creativity

Supporting children mental health through creativity

Supporting children mental health through creativity 2560 1708 Nursery Story

The charity Place2Be recognised seven years ago a need to highlight the importance of children and young people’s mental health.

As a result of the global pandemic and subsequent lockdown, and the closure of schools and nurseries, the stresses on teachers, parents and children have never been greater. There has never been a more important time than this to raise awareness of children’s mental health.

This year the theme is “Express Yourself”. To encourage children to have the confidence to communicate and share their feelings, and thoughts through expression and creativity. Also, to encourage children to be free to express themselves openly and without judgment. Creativity and expression could be through art, playing with colours, singing songs, making music, dancing, role play, and doing activities that make the child feel good.

To learn more about Children Mental Health Week visit here.

Ideas for nurturing children’s imagination and creativity:

Having fun outdoors

Exposure to sunlight, even on an overcast day, helps to ensure that children get enough vitamin D which affects numerous health issues including muscle development and function, and bone growth.

Children often enjoy more vigorous exercise and more physical activity outdoors. Exploration outdoors encourages young children to discover, create and problem solve.

Playing with sand, making designs with twigs, or simply observing insects and leaves on the ground and observing clouds in the sky. This helps to develop a child’s senses, and understanding of how things work.

Imaginative Role Play

It is so important to create an environment where children are free to express themselves and live in a make-believe world. When children pretend to be someone else, or pretend play, they experiment with lots of situations and emotions.

It’s a safe environment for them to express themselves and overcome anxieties or fears. Playing with props, such as pretend food, books, coins to helps children learn about healthy eating, counting and literacy.

Singing and dancing

Singing can encourage children to be whoever they want to be and express themselves freely and creatively. It is a fun way to boost joy, accomplishment and develop identity and individuality. Singing causes the release of hormones called endorphins which make you feel happy and positive. Just as taste, textures and colours aid a child’s sensory development, so does music.

Exposing children to different types of music can help create more pathways between the cells in their brains. This effect increases even more when the music is linked to dancing.

Art Painting and Drawing

Art encourages imagination, expression and creativity. The various forms of art, painting, sculpture, collage, clay, drawing or any other medium, can be a way for children to express their emotions, and their ideas. Art activities also develop fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination.

It is an excellent way for children to communicate their thoughts either verbally or in the drawings they make. Children will often show their feelings through their drawings instead of talking to adults, teachers need to respect this and ask questions in a sensitive way and not over question them.

Reading Time

Reading time should be fun and exciting with a story which will hopefully interest the children. The story should stimulate their curiosity and encourage them to have further adventures in their own minds.

Questions such as, “What do you think happens next?” should be asked to encourage their imaginations. It can also be fun to discuss other possible scenarios or endings for the story by using the child’s imagination. Stories can also be an effective way to communicate a message.

Open-ended questions

Open-ended questions encourage children to think beyond the obvious, and to think of as many possibilities as they can, before deciding upon the best or most appropriate answer. Open ended questions can stimulate imaginative and creative thinking and can also be an effective way to encourage children to express their ideas and share visions. This can communicate to the child that their ideas and opinions are important. “What are some other ways to do this?” “What do you think would happen if….?” “What’s the difference between ….?”

Limit screen time

Start by limiting screen time – television, movies, computer, tablet, smartphone, handhelds, video games, etc. Nurturing imagination and parenting in the digital age can be tough.

Focusing on a screen is a passive way of learning for children. An alternative would be to encourage children to create something new and different. Engaging children in a kinesthetic manner using their entire bodies and their five senses also opens the mind.

Remember to allow for downtime

Unstructured, unscheduled time allows children opportunities to imagine and create.

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