WHY ARE SELF PORTRAITS THERAPEUTIC?
One goal of a therapeutic preschool is to help children grow emotionally. We provide the opportunity for children to draw self portraits because it can be a therapeutic activity that leads to a more expansive emotional repertoire. Young children often do not have a lot of control over their lives and are expected to fall in line with the choices of the adults around them. But when a child creates a self portrait, they can choose to represent themselves in any number of different ways and the choice is completely up to them. There is a moment right before the child starts drawing when they make the choice about how they would like to present themselves to the outside world. For some children, this comes easily to them but a lot of children have to spend time thinking about what part of themselves is important enough to depict in their artwork. It is empowering for children to be given the opportunity to choose how they present themselves to the world, without any of the adults in their life helping them make the choice. Some children used the mirror to draw themselves as they are seen from the outside. Other children imagined themselves as older or younger versions of themselves. A few children drew themselves in an old and beloved setting or a new and exciting one. One child even insisted on drawing her family in her self portrait. Any of the ways a child chooses to draw their self portrait gives us (the people viewing their art) insight into the way they see themselves and the way they want others to see them. Children also learn more about themselves while drawing a self portrait, which leads them towards even more emotional growth and understanding of themselves. As teachers, we can interpret these insights in an infinite amount of ways. By looking closely at their artwork we can come to understand these human beings even more deeply and help them to learn and grow in a way that fits them individually. Enjoy these beautiful windows into their souls.
-Curriculum and writing by Natalie Stroud, Green Preschool, Burlington Children’s Space