Maggie Houston May 7, 2021 Dot to Dot
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It has been a long while since I last wrote. I really miss it when I cant put my thoughts to paper (or keys... as it is). Last week I was teaching a bunch of kids aged 4-8 about the importance of mindfulness. This is a class which I teach every week. If you have never taught little kids before, it is much like trying to herd cats. The mindfulness class is one hour and for one hour I need about ten to twenty different activities as their attention span is so fleeting. Last week I had prepared a very exciting lesson using vinegar and baking soda to demonstrate how, when your mind is racing, it is like bubbles in the jar. I LOVED my new experiment and the kids were mildly amused for thirty seconds. I taught them to put their hand on their belly and breathe down the "bubbles of anxiety in their minds". Naturally as the acetic acid reacted completely with the sodium bicarbonate, the bubbles settled. Seemed like a compelling lesson? But, as with the others, it was... on to the next lesson!
Do not correct your childs first attempt at drawing a person. Give them freedom to explore the visual and tactile experience without your input. Preliminarily, he or she may only draw a couple of lines.Give a lot of praise. Too much interference by you will hurt creativity and confidence. Their person may have only eyes, a dot for the nose and a straight line for the mouth within the circle. You may prompt by saying, "Where are your eyes?" Prompt with the other parts of the body. Cut around the drawing, and hang it up for everyone to see and give your child a hug and praise. Soon, your child will draw himself or herself, and then other people in the family. This is a big day! It is better to buy a blank drawing pad than a coloring book. They will learn to control their hand and fingers to hold the crayon and they can try to color their drawings as they draw, and have more control when they are about five years old. Let them scribble until you see they want to go on to another task. Keep the time short.
However, the temptation to stay within the walls of the fabulous HMV Ritz to see the very much buizzed about Dog is Dead was too much and proved not to be a disappointment. After a quick bit of tucker over at Oddest - a lovely little Oxford Rd bar with a fine selection of ales - it was time to get into the evening of the festival. The highlights of the night, which ran into the very early hours indeed, had to be the always entertaining The Drums at The Ritz, the incredible Lulu James over at Joshua Brookes and finally Islet at the Sound Control live lounge. It has to be said, that as the music shifted the latter hours at the club, things may have gotten a little blurry for some of us - but after a day like this I think its fair to say we deserved it.
The great part about mindful drawing is that it is not just for kids! In fact, my wife is a Certified Zentangle Teacher and regularly sees the amazing benefits in adults who practice this form of mindful drawing. Just like meditation, mindfulness with a pen can also reduce blood pressure, reduce heart rate, and have long-term benefits with depression and anxiety. Have you ever found yourself just doodling on a scrap piece of paper. There is a good chance that when you are making lines or dots or shading with your pen or pencil, you are focused on present moment. Perhaps if the idea of meditation seems to be not your cup of tea but you could use to manage your stress; why not consider mindful drawing, doodling, or zentangle. The goal is not to make art to hang on your fridge but rather to give your restless mind a much need break from the endless chatter.
Keep in mind that the level of difficulty of the subject is appropriate for their age and their skill level. This can be difficult when you are working with a number of children of differing ages or when youre working with your own children and they are of multiple skill levels. Please remember never to use competitive words such as wrong, right best and ensure you praise, praise, praise. Even when drawing the same subject, each childs interpretation will ensure a unique piece of artwork every time. After all, how can they be compared, just as De Vinci cant be compared to Monet? If you notice that your child is taking a real interest in art and drawing you may want to get them enrolled in classes so that they can enhance their skills and embrace that aspect of their world. Children who are also experiencing difficulty mastering fine motor skills or displaying poor concentration skills will greatly benefit from these drawing lessons, just be patient. Providing they are not too distracting for the other students and are enjoying their drawing, keep encouraging them and praising them. In the end this will reap wonderful rewards both for the child and the teacher.