There’s no doubt that coloring books have made a resurgence in adults lives. Yes, it may be trendy – but there’s also science behind it. Multiple studies have shown that coloring, doodling, and other forms of art help improve focus, concentration, and reduce stress. If adults can benefit from these mindful art activities, your students can as well.
1. Helps improve focus and concentration
Coloring pages and dot-to-dot activities improve students’ focus and concentration by allowing them to channel their thoughts onto one thing. This releases the pressure of the multiple tasks, thoughts, and worries that normally swirl through their minds. DTLK Kids says coloring “enables [students] to develop concentration and focus skills” that help them stay engaged “without being bothered by the “buzz” around them.”
Doodling doesn’t necessarily mean that the student isn’t paying attention; in fact, many students who struggle with attention disorders or learning disabilities benefit from doodling in the margins because it helps them focus on what the teacher is saying. That said, if they are focusing all of their attention on doodling, it can become a distraction like anything else. Guided doodling pages such as Zentangles give students the opportunity to doodle mindfully. These rhythmic, repetitive doodles help students concentrate without using all of their attention. Encouraging students and providing them with tools for productive doodling can help increase their learning readiness.
2. Assists visual learners
We now know that not all students learn equally and mindful art can be really beneficial for visual learners and ELA students. Young students may memorize words, but not fully understand what they mean. Having students draw their feelings, breath, and physical sensations in the body are great mindful exercises to help students fully understand what they are learning. This can also tie into subject-related coloring sheets for school subjects (language arts, math, science, etc.) or for older students who are more visual learners.
3. Releases stress by focusing on one thing
In her TED Talk, Art therapist Marygrace Berberian discusses how coloring is an activity that can contribute to being in that “zone” or state of “flow” where one is focused, confident, and has a sense of peace in the journey toward achieving the desired outcome. “We need to find things that are restorative. Coloring…allows a person to turn down the volume of ruminations and focus on the task at hand. There is mindfulness when we are not looking at our phones and focused on the here and now,” says Berberian.
Want to learn more? Check out Teaching Mindfulness Skills to Kids and Teens. Our executive director, Vanessa Weiner, authored chapter sixteen, titled “Mindfulness and Art.”