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30 MARCH 2022

Marvellous Mark Making

by Leandri Ferreira

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As part of our series highlighting the benefits of art therapy, we look at Mark Making – what it is and why it’s important for children. 

Mark making is a term used for the creation of different patterns, lines, textures and shapes. This can occur on any surface, using any medium or object to create different lines, dots, shapes or patterns. During art therapy, the therapist uses art as a medium to achieve therapeutic goals, often relating to the emotional and mental health benefit of the user. It allows, in our case, the child, to express, process and communicate feelings, experiences and thoughts to the therapist.

Working holistically to support a child’s overall development, an art therapist may also incorporate certain positioning strategies and selection of materials in a manner to help develop gross and fine motor skills. By using an easel or working on the floor the therapist can help to develop shoulder stability which is the key stabilisation point for further arm movements to develop. Mark making usually involves using larger items allowing for full grips to develop first and then transition into using smaller, more refined grips which would lead to a dynamic tripod grasp for writing.

The sensory elements of experiencing with different art mediums also provides sensory kids with a unique opportunity to get exposure to a range of different tactile, visual and proprioceptive input in a non-threatening manner. When in this safe space with the therapist, the child may feel more free to explore different mark making techniques while working on their therapy goals. Learning through the sense of touch is an important building block to create awareness of the hands and fingers for fine motor development and body scheme. For some children, the added sensory experiences can also help to promote sensory modulation and thus support a child’s ability to pay attention, focus and learn.

From a mental health perspective, mark making can be used as a form of expressing feelings and ideas which can be difficult for a pre-schooler to communicate (verbally or non-verbally in an acceptable manner), even more so if a child finds it difficult to engage with others in a neurotypical manner. By allowing free exploration during mark making a child can also develop his/her sense of autonomy. During art therapy, the therapist will use different art mediums, including mark making, to support individual goals of the pre-schooler including communication, emotional awareness and expression, process experiences and shape how they view the world.

At Petra’s Place we offer art therapy sessions, to find out more about our therapy centre or nursery go to www.petrasplace.co.uk.

The Author

Leandri Ferreira is the Head of Clinical Services ensuring that Petra’s Place® Therapy Centre provides a world class standard of therapies to support the children attending the nursery. Leandri has experience working with children and their families who require additional support to help them reach their full potential.

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