Art and play for resilience

“I wasn’t doing very well, but my teacher helped me and now it’s better. It really helps when you have friends who can help you out.”

This is what one of the 3-year-olds told me last week in the wake of a bit of clay trouble: the bowl she was making fell apart. She asked for help, and then was on her way to remaking her bowl. The very candid reflection that came immediately after is a gem of the classroom.

“It is through play that children at a very early age engage and interact in the world around them. Play allows children to create and explore a world they can master, conquering their fears while practicing adult roles, sometimes in conjunction with other children or adult caregivers.” (Ginsburg, K., 2007)

In classrooms as described above, art and play creates a safe space for children to explore their own limitations and strengths, and discover their innate capacity for resilience. The experience remains relevant through all walks of life, and we approach the arts in our programs as experiences of play, regardless of age.

In fact, our experience so far of working with and serving different groups of people tells us that the importance of the arts and play is ever more important as we get older. We have seen the arts open doors for people to rediscover resilience, creativity, purpose, perspective — to name but a few.

In this article, Dr. Peter Gray starkly describes the current landscape of emotional growth and how it is affecting learning institutions and the development of adults today. Here is a little bit of insight into how we are working to change it: three questions for reflection for bumps in the road. For all ages.

– What happened?
– What do you feel about what happened?
– What do you think you could do next?

Are you and/or have you been a teacher, student, parent? What are your experiences of art? Of resilience in schools and at home? We would love to hear from you and keep the conversation going. Comment here, or talk to us through Facebook.

This month of February in the Philippines is National Arts Month and we’re going to be talking about the arts for wellbeing. We look forward to sharing more with you in the coming weeks.




Kenneth R. Ginsburg, “The importance of play in promoting healthy child development and maintaining strong parent-child bonds,” American Academy of Paediatrics, 119:1. 2007.

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