The pandemic turned the environments of school-aged children upside down, causing them to lose their bearings and eroding their sense of security. Newly arrived immigrant and refugee children and their families faced the dual challenge of experiencing the health crisis while their support networks were still precarious.
Led in schools in three cities in Québec, creative expression and language awareness workshops revealed that children used the activities to express how they experienced the pandemic by symbolizing danger and protection, thus enabling them to make sense of the circumstances and regain some degree of power over their lives. The workshops also fostered the consolidation of positive social ties between peers and with educators, which also contributed to the children’s sense of emotional security.
The findings suggest that artistic and play spaces in school settings can contribute to learners’ well-being during social crises and constitute an essential element of front-line psychological interventions. In the future, the mental health of children should be a priority at the very start of a crisis so as to restore their emotional security and help maintain their willingness to learn.
Cécile Rousseau, McGill University
Deposit of the research report: April 2022