The Power of the Crayon

As I have begun the transition vocationally, I am discovering for myself something that others may already know.  The discovery is this:  the power of the crayon.

Let me explain.  Over the last month or so I have been working part-time as a school counselor sub in a couple of local elementary schools.  I have students I meet with every time I am at the school.  The issues bringing them into my office are diverse.  Over the last year while doing field experience and practicum, I have come to rely on the power of the crayon.

Studies have shown the effect coloring has on a person.  It is a way in persons can lose themselves in a creative and yet mediative practice that allows for stress reduction.  One can lose oneself in the process of watching a design come to life with color.

I am never without coloring sheets in my office.  Not just any coloring sheets but mandalas specifically.  I always have a couple of different designs for the kids to choose from.  What is so profound to me, is the power it possesses to connect with a child.  In my other part-time job (which I have been doing for about 20 years), coloring seemed to fall out of favor.  Or maybe it fell out of favor for me–not sure which.  But I have changed my mind

What I failed to realize and now am so aware of is coloring with a child allows them a venue to share what face-to-face conversation cannot.  I have had many profound insights into a child’s life simply by coloring with them.  Here are some of the revelations I have had:

*Coloring with crayons invites conversation

*Coloring allows a child to relieve stress so that they might just be able to make it through the day

*Coloring (sometimes the color of crayon is significant) empowers a child to tell a story

*Coloring signifies a level playing field for a child.  Oftentimes when we just talk to rather than talk with a child, it is done so to signify who is in charge (the adult).  When wanting to get inside the heart of a child to help them cope with the world, this is not helpful.

We as a society expect too much out of our children and rush them right past this opportunity to connect with themselves and those who are significant in their lives.  We schedule them with all kinds of activities and yet lose our way in getting to know them–really know them.  In schools we push academics (which is important) but don’t give them the skills needed to handle the pressure (and I don’t blame the school system for this, I think the fault lies within the political realm–but that could be another blog entry).

So from now on, I will always have crayons and paper handy.  The power the crayon possesses is really underrated.  Take of advantage of this power and connect with a child.  Both of you will not regret it!

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