This post is from an earlier post I wrote back in 2011, collating in one place for myself how mosaic art assists children's learning. Working with community groups has really opened my eyes to what I innately knew for myself when I created mosaics, but that I didn't have a language to describe. I see the healing properties of making mosaics over and over again and after listening to Dr Claire Barnett's keynote speech at the recent MAANZ Symposium here in Canberra, I got an inkling into what that might be - very basically, people who are dealing with trauma/traumatic incidents are in a state where the amygdala has been hijacked almost freezing them in the moment of the traumatic event. These conditions exist because the brain creates a feedback loop that builds and enhances neural pathways. When we work on mosaics, several things are happening (see below list) which stimulates the pre-frontal cortex and other areas of our brain.
It's powerful stuff. I don't believe the science has yet caught up to what we, as artists, inherently know but Art Therapy and Art as Therapy is gaining traction and it's just a matter of time before researchers publish findings.
Here's the list of how mosaic art affords some real, concrete learning opportunities for children (and adults too!!).
Mosaic art assists in the development of:
Spatial and visual organisation (basics of geometry)
Fine motor skills
Coordinating one's thoughts and actions
Hand and eye coordination – extremely important step to help a child achieve difficult tasks easily, including reading and writing
Correlation between seeing and doing (sight and touch senses)
Math skills as the child learns about basic calculations, surface area, the best way to break down a larger area into smaller ones, shapes, spatial visualisation
Skills children will need to learn to read and write
Language skills as the child listens and follows instructions and talks about what they are doing
Creative self expression
Trust in the process
In addition to the above, larger community projects teach:
Peer to peer interaction (subtly helps children to understand the relationships between people while learning to deal with them effectively)
Cooperative learning strategies
That a child is one of many, each as valuable as the other
That a whole is made up of many parts – each one valid, each one value-adding
That a child’s voice is heard, valid and celebrated
How does mosaic art help the teacher/parent/caregiver?
Making mosaics provides an opportunity for formal learning experiences
The care provider can watch children work alone or in groups
They can monitor the way in which the children speak, move and concentrate
It allows for observation of a child to assess their development
It also allows for the care provider to understand what interests the child has, what engages them and why
Most importantly, kids (and us adults) love it!!