Vita Et Pax Preparatory School

Art Therapy Success At Vita Et Pax

Through these turbulent times, children and parents alike have felt the effects of lockdown. A new initiative for our school, Art Therapy, has allowed our students to explore their feelings and emotions through an exciting medium.

Children are using art as a way of dealing with the emotional fallout of lockdown.

All year groups have returned to Vita et Pax Preparatory School, in Southgate, after the Coronavirus outbreak forced the majority of children to learn from home for several months.

Along with lessons in English, maths and PE, pupils are taking part in art therapy sessions as part of the recovery curriculum.

Child therapist Alexandra Demetri is working with pupils twice each week to enable them to discuss their experiences of lockdown and process their feelings about the crisis.

She said: “I am working in a way which allows children to explore their feelings which isn’t as invasive as asking them outright how lockdown was for them.

“A lot of parents find it hard to explain to children what is going on right now, especially to the little ones who can be left confused about what is happening. How do you say to a five-year-old that we have to stay home because of a virus, but without terrifying them?”

Pupils are working on an art project called Building a Bridge, which challenges them to paint one picture of how lockdown was for them and another depicting how they would like life to be in the future.

They will then connect the two pictures with lolly sticks, writing on them who or what they need to help them to get from one image to the other.

Miss Demetri said: “Some of the paintings from lockdown are abstract and some are realistic, while others are intense and show them being trapped in prison or out at sea.

“This work gives children an opportunity to explore their feelings. It is an example of working through metaphor to explore difficult feelings which they may have trouble processing. They are encouraged to share their stories with each other if they feel they want to.

“It encourages them to start talking about different feelings and to improve their emotional literacy. We start each session with a ten-minute check-in to see how everyone is doing. That gets the class to really hold each other emotionally, which is quite important.”

Headteacher Allana Gay said: “Alexandra has been working with the children and discussing how they are feeling. Children are able to share their stories of what lockdown was like, which has been really empowering for them.

“It’s getting that balance between not wanting the children to internalise their feelings and giving them conversation with others to give them that reflection point.

“Teachers have taken on so much already in getting their classrooms back and getting academics up to standard, so having an external person come in to drive that forward has worked really well for us.”