1. Creativity is good for children's mental health
2. Creativity can be taught
3. Creativity, and builds self belief, and resilience
For many years I have been visiting primary schools and working on projects with classes, year groups and sometime even whole school.
My hat is off to teachers! I don't know how they do it. In my experience of spending time at schools it has been the most rewarding and the most exhausting time.
Over the last 12 months I have developed a format that transposes my teaching with primary age children into an accessible, inclusive online format.
Taught over the course of a day or week, my Creativity Classes for Children take the following format.
1. An introductory session for the whole year where I introduce the paints, my process, who I am, and what I paint. An opportunity to discuss ‘art' and ask questions. This session is live, via my zoom account (or the school's own hosting site) and takes about 45 minutes.
2. Following on from that, a pre-recorded session sent to you, of me painting using simple shapes and techniques and explaining my process and encouraging the children can copy my process, and learn from how I’m working to make their own pictures and paintings.
The subject of these paintings is flexible -subjects such as 'my friends' or 'my house' or 'my school' or 'the countryside' or even - my favourite 'the dog show’. I’m happy to include your ideas.
This section is a recorded session that downloadable and shareable with the children, so that they can watch it and pause the film when needed to enable them to work at their own pace. The film is about 45 minutes in total.
3. This is followed by another live session in groups of about 10 children at a time, so that I can see their work, engage with questions and encourage them with their creativity, painting and drawing. Each of the sessions would be about 30 minutes.
Sessions are live from my own studio - itself an interesting and vibrant place to see.
I have many years of experience teaching creativity to both adults and children and have worked online with children and in schools. I found that the key to helping children develop their artistic practice is to give them the skills to increase their confidence. Their confidence to try new things, and to realise that there is no possibility of getting it wrong in art.
I encourage students to take creative chances and to enjoy what feels good in the creative process. It’s a great way of children being able to start to understand that sometimes we have a voice inside of us that tells us that what we’re producing is not good enough. It’s a great way to examine that and to start to question it and to look for the positive voice that tells us ‘wow, look that’s good, I did that and I like it’.
I help students (in my adult classes as well as children’s) to focus on the things that they actually like in their paintings and build on those. This is possible because of the acrylic paints that I encourage students to use. Painting using acrylic paints on cheap cardboard boxes enables a process of 'painting over ‘, of layering, of reiteration and of gradual refining and improving on technique. The way I teach children art and creativity means there is no possibility of getting it ‘wrong’ - because unlike maths or English, in art there is no ‘incorrect'. There’s only ever reiteration, adjustment, and focusing on what’s enjoyable in the process.
My teaching experience reaches back over 25 years into my career with the Home Office, where I taught change behaviour with offenders! I understand the psychology of behaviour and I also understand that for children especially, it is very important to encourage positivity and the skills of wanting to keep trying that help build psychological resilience.
The acrylic paint that I recommend using is the most forgiving and easy to use type of paint. When it’s dry it forms a complete plastic layer - a barrier - this means that it can be painted over time and time again. It’s great to see children are encouraged to experiment in this way; leaning into their inate and unique creativity and learning that they will not get everything right the first time, but that they can keep trying, and improve and enjoy with each experiment. The materials that I use for teaching are chosen as they will produce the maximum results early on, and getting good results then encourages further trial, further trial leads to more success and thus ‘creative confidence’ is developed. That’s my focus, with adults and children alike. I had a book published on this subject titled
in 2015, and I have taught this process in schools and to adult groups for over 10 years. My teaching process has also been featured in art magazines, as well as in ‘Psychologies' magazine.
Contact me if this appeals to you and together we really can make a difference to young minds.