Category Archives: COVID-19

Video Archive: Art and Mindfulness for Children and Teens

This 20-minute video (produced by the First Nations Education Council) leads you through an exercise for children in grades 4/5/6 that teaches both perspective drawing as well as regulation during frustration. It touches upon cultural spring time themes as well as visualization.

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Online art therapy services

Mindfulness for Children and parents

Within scheduling, it can be important to make time for holistic self-care. During the morning, I dedicate time to exploring daily self-care by using medicine wheel teachings. Each sector influences the other.

For instance, if we have negative thoughts, it may affect our emotions. We may feel anxiety, shame, doubt etc. These may the influence our bodies, feeling nausea, exhaustion and headaches. All of these impact our spiritual health, disconnecting us from each other, ourselves and the land.

Graphic made by the Anishinaabe Bimaadiziwin Cultural Healing and Learning Program

Physical: We take daily walks outside and follow online yoga videos (my youngest loves cosmicyoga on youtube). Dress for the weather (we are in a transitionary spring climate that shifts from -13 degrees to +16). Dress for the weather. There are so many teachings the land can offer (snow, rain, sun, wind). We take care of our bodies with nutrition and gardening. Yoga practices breathing and creating mindfulness is a good step to learning self-regulation.

for parents: take time for yourself to also walk with them or to follow your own exercise program. Model physical activity, which may inspire your children to do the same.

Mental: We make time to talk about our thoughts in the world, which naturally unfold when we make art and play together. The children have the opportunity to share their fears or musing about the future. We have made art and took time to process them. Additionally, by doing STEAM activities, they are exercising their executive functions like problem-solving, adapting and reflecting.

for parents: take time to talk to your support network and process your thoughts. Facetime, phone calls, text or online forums to practice safe social distancing while maintaining connection with others. Do activities for yourself too, whether that be work, reading or keeping a daily log. Journals do not have to be just for teens, we can use them too! Jstor has also made their database accessible to the public so nows the time to explore that one thing you have always been interested in:

Open-Access JSTOR Materials Accessible to the Public

Emotional: We have a dedicated time to explore emotional expression. Using art and a daily art journal (which we have always had), we make time to explore feelings. Modeling that it is safe to look at all our feelings, even if we are uncomfortable, is helpful for children to learn how to express. Be there for them and remember to be the secure base for them. If you feel activated, name it for yourself and allow yourself to be there. Feelings are safe.

For parents: Again, stay in contact with your social networks. It is ok to show vulnerability to children because it shows them that they can be vulnerable too. But be mindful of how we choose to regulate. Make art, breathing exercises, exercise.

Here are some free mindfulness apps: insight timer; smiling mind; stop, breathe & think; UCLA mindful; 10% happier

Spiritual: Each morning, we begin with a smudge and the Ohenton Kariwatehkwen (thanksgiving address). We practice spiritual connection when we connect with each other and the land.

For parents: spirituality does not have to mean religion. It can mean connection.

Although these are separated into categories, they often interconnect–especially when making art or spending time in nature.

 

How to make a COVID-19 schedule

As an art therapist and a parent, this suggestions come from both research and experience. Please note that there is no one-size fits all approach but feel free to use any suggestions that makes sense for your family.

I began with a basic structure, inviting my family to contribute to setting expectations and daily themes. This way, they become part of the process and their own learning. This can give children a sense of empowerment and self-esteem in knowing that they are heard. Self-esteem is critical to learning. If a child feels good about themselves, they will be more open to new information and challenge.

This is an example of our schedule. Although it seems rigid, it is not. There are times where playing outside takes an extra hour or times when the learning activity goes over by 30 minutes. There are times when math feels too much and we do a limited amount of time. I encourage play and flexibility and to follow the flow of the children. The age range is 12 and 7, so the schedule shifts based on their developmental needs as well.

Structure can help them to feel normalcy, stability and self-organization during a time in the world where everything feels unstable. It gives them a container to feel what they need to feel and to work through it safely with an adult.

IMG_3893Setting up the learning environment is also important to create structure.We chose a place in the house to dedicate to the “learning spot”. They gathered the materials they thought they would need and know where to go when it’s time for research or math games.

Although learning objectives can be important, remember to have time for unstructured play. Children learn through experience and we as parents can create teachable moments as we explore together. Connect, be with, and listen.

They too are grieving the losses that come with isolation. They have lost their friends; their school structure; their routine; their freedom; their sense of security in the world. Loss can often evoke complex feelings, which can come alive at different points in the day. Be gentle with them. Know that behavior challenges will be normal or that narratives of isolation or disease may come up in their play. Children process and express information differently, so when we are cued into to being a part of their play we may catch those moments to process with them.

Be there when they are challenged, encourage effort and model problem-solving. We do not have to be experts but we can create spaces of learning.