When I first set out to add 'teaching art' to my list of freelance business activities, I had no idea that I would go on to design an integrated arts and SEL program. Sure, I knew that creative inquiry held potent opportunities for learning and I'd had plenty of practice incorporating the arts into behavioral programs of my clients on the Autism Spectrum.
What I didn't know was how much I would learn in the process of integrating the arts with focused social-emotional development-- both as an educator and as a human on a path of holistic growth.
Interestingly, building this program over the past 8 years has been a process of peeling back the layers on myself and all that I have learned personally and professionally over the past 15 years... while revisiting this learning through the lens of a beginner's mind, innovating, experimenting, facilitating and expounding.
LINEar Attention is the first learning adventure in the Elements of heART program. As a blended curriculum, each adventure (or unit) presents two distinctive learning processes woven together through explicit creative prompts and implicit SEL lessons anchored through books, games, and discussion.
To the young eyes that enter our program, the focus on the art leaves most learners unaware of the executive function skills being honed as they "take a dot for a walk" and practice playing with lines in novel ways. The obvious lessons are all about developing one's creative skills while the hidden curriculum helps students connect to, develop and direct their attention in ways that transfer to any endeavor and deepen as the program progresses.
LINEar Attention adventures become an easy entry into a world of "universal art tools" while laying the foundation for growth mindset thinking and honing concentration skills that expand as they explore.
As young heARTISTS build their confidence with this soft intro to visual literacy skills, they are deepening their capacity beneath the surface of their play.
It is a wonder and delight to watch them direct their attention, open new relational capacities with themselves and others, and discover that they too have the power to choose how they will show up, what they will glean and who they will become in the process that sprawls before them.