Why the performing arts, led by teachers in schools, are important for refugee children

Canada stabilized almost quickly 47,000 Syrians fled the conflict in 2015 intends to welcome 40,000 Afghan refugees. Canada also developed There is no limit for Ukrainian refugees will accept.

But let’s not rush to pat ourselves on the back before we take a closer look at our success in supporting refugees after their arrival, specifically in reducing mental health problems such as trauma in children.

Education is the most important measure of continuous integration. argue my research Comprehensive care is vital for refugee childrenHe stressed the importance of collaboration between health care workers, government policy makers, settlement agents, educators, housing professionals, job coaches and others.

One promising area of ​​research focuses on the role of imaginative play and art-making in helping refugee children recover from their traumatic experiences.

Teachers can have an impact

Teachers in particular can have a significant impact on building refugees’ sense of safety, trust and belonging. However, many teachers still lack the professional development to work with refugees, including culturally sensitive approaches Understand what basic mental health needs look like in the classroom.

Children look at the structure of toys.
Educators can have a huge impact on building refugee children and families’ sense of safety, but many teachers lack the professional development to work with refugees.
Author provided (no reuse)

Left untreated, trauma may worsen, limit academic growth and prevent refugees from becoming fully contributing citizens.

Federal research on refugees supported by the Syrian government found that 71 percent of those who received federally funded settlement services identified a need for “health, mental health, or well-being.” the support.”

However, research on the mental health of Syrian mothers has found that Concerns about stigma and privacy are major obstacles that prevent pregnant or postpartum women from seeking or accessing mental health services.

Prevailing classroom practices matter

In one of my research interviews, a teacher reported that refugee parents do not want their child Dedicated to education or separated from peers To access specialized services.

‘Speech therapy’ is usually excluded because children under 11 years old He has not yet developed the ability to describe complex problems and to understand their experiences. This is supported by the neuroscience that tells us that traumatic experiences are not in the rational prefrontal cortex of the brain through language, but instead become “stuck” in the amygdala as sensations or fragments. What then are the options?

Play therapy, art therapy techniques

In play, children act out events they do not understand and explore their emotions, sometimes reliving the indescribable. Fragments of memories emerge and can be reinterpreted, with the child choosing to review for more positive outcomes. This has the potential to reduce shock.

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Furthermore it, Works of art through pre-verbal symbolic language may also lead to trauma In a slow natural process. Metaphors and symbols in art may provide access to unacknowledged and receptive emotions, allowing change to occur, and perhaps even a return to a healthier outlook.

Seeing a child's hand drawing a picture.
Art works in a symbolic language.
(stock struggle)

If the understanding can be glimpsed through metaphor or allegory, then the inner part of the person can be given an outward expression through pictures In areas where language has been silenced, allowing a therapeutic transformation of the self.

art too Helps develop many academic skillsincluding critical thinking, problem solving, listening skills, responding to constructive criticism, and effective communication.

Many artistic activities

Through the lens of therapy, simple art activities in the classroom really do make a difference, as in these brief examples:

visual artDrawing self-portraits enhances the child’s self-awareness and begins to form his or her new identity; visual magazines Helping refugees connect with their classmates, talk about themselves as they learn English and feel like they have friends;

• Dance: the use of the whole body coordinating the senses, breath and movement. Movement calls for emotional regulation;

The children were seen participating in the creative movement.
Movement invites emotional regulation.
(Erika Giroud/Unsplash)

Creative Writing/Poetry: For students with sufficient skills in the language of instruction, teachers may use stimuli to suggest parallel experiences. Kids can rewrite more favorite endings for their own stories Reflect their strength and resilience, and help them overcome tragedies.

Healing Narrative and Moral Fears

By embracing aspects of the expressive arts in the classroom, teachers can help children discover a therapeutic story: when the child is ready, they can share their story, Unloading spiritual energy through self-expression and visualization is not an end, but a new and ongoing story.

Refugees with a full sense of self are more likely to accept the future with confidence and feel they belong to an unfamiliar community.

While teachers are not moral and ethical counselors Cannot interpret art or ask difficult or pointed questions due to lack of trainingThey are nonetheless able to facilitate artistic explorations.

Safety and belonging

Ethics in teaching overlaps with core art therapy ethics: both professions take priority Doing what is best for the child while staying close to the artistic process.

In addition, teachers model Ethical and sensitive uses of art making With students as they accept students’ unique responses to using different art forms, allowing privacy about their work and its content and allowing students to decide how to participate.

Refugee children who feel safe and believe they belong in school may gradually reveal what happened to them, and teachers should accept and support them with their genuine concern and care.

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