The Perfect Teacher GIFT – The Art of Connection

When I first showed teacher Amy Rolfe a picture of my new book cover, she shouted “this is EXACTLY what I need!” We immediately bonded over art and children. Amy has been teaching PreK in public schools in Western Australia for ten years. I had the good fortune to visit with her recently and took photos to share with you of her exceptional work with four year olds.

Amy showed me her Australian PreK classroom and explained how much harder it is to teach young children since the pandemic. She currently has 5 children who are on the spectrum, but not a single one of them has been formally assessed.  Why?
She says it’s because parents avoid having assessments for fear of getting a “diagnosis” they are afraid of.

Sadly, these children then don’t get special services that could help them, and Amy’s classroom is especially hard to manage.

She goes on to tell me that’s why she offers her diverse students so much open-ended art. She claims it’s the MOST EFFECTIVE learning activity that keeps children calm and self-regulated. She also mentions how she struggles to keep her teaching assistants on board with open art. Since her TA’s were never taught about the VALUE of open art,  they don’t understand why the children can’t simply be taught to make cute red flowers and Pinterest crafts. But Amy is adamant about using art materials to give children the power to express themselves and make their own choices .

Amy eagerly showed me examples of a recent classroom art exploration of the color RED. As I listened to her explain several pieces of RED ART, I was impressed by the details she remembered about each child. I could see WHY art meant so much to her children, and how much her children meant to HER.  She uses art to get to know each child better, and to make a strong personal connection with each of them. Yes!

In fact, it was clear that her ability to connect with children was EXCITING to Amy, and that she knew art was a bridge to connection.

Take a listen to Teacher Amy as she begins describing one of her children’s Red Collage Art: 

What I love about this one is here

Active listening and all forms of empathy take a big role in trauma-informed care. How to apply these principles is illustrated in How to Talk About Art with Children, one of over 100 graphics & drawings in my new book, Trauma Informed Art Activities for Early Childhood, published just last month by Jessica Kingsley Publishers. 

Trauma-informed care places emphasis on getting to know children through all their behaviors, including art, where a child’s interests, thoughts and self-image are made visible. That’s where healing connections are made… and intimacy and attachment begins.

Amy knows that the right use of art makes a big difference in children’s lives, and I hope you agree.

Be like Amy, and buy your favorite teacher my new book!  Your friend will thank you.  

It really is the perfect summer read.

Amazon QR code and Link here

Thank you for taking the time to read my ideas and share your experiences. I hope you enjoy connecting with like minded spirits as much as I do.

Anna Reyner,

MA ATR, LMFT
Consultant & Trainer:
CreativePlayLA, Los Angeles California

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