Hollie Slaughter, Head of Art at Lyndhurst House Prep, discusses art’s value in developing not only practical skills but also understanding of our own emotions

The arts are a part of our daily lives at Lyndhurst House. Whether it is admiring the displays around the school, appreciating, and talking about art in assemblies, making art during art lessons and club activities or dropping into Creative Space during morning break, here everyone is involved.

Art is an important part of the curriculum at our school, and we also believe it makes life more manageable, tolerable and enjoyable. It offers us a chance to make sense of the ever-changing world around us, giving us freedom to express ourselves and develop a deeper understanding of our emotions – whether we are five or 55 years old.

There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to our break times here at Lyndhurst House. A creative act such as crafting or drawing can help focus the mind. While many of the boys cannot wait for their chance to kick a football with their peers, others feel much more refreshed by the calming effects of painting or other creative arts, and we value that. Creative Space runs every morning break, allowing our boys an opportunity to come in and draw, paint, sculpt or get crafty.

“Art allows our boys to have a deeper understanding of their emotions and be open to innovative ideas and fresh experiences”

We have had a blast learning how to use sponges, sticks, bubble wrap, bottle tops and pretty much anything to create abstract expressionist work. We have learnt what colours complement each other and which ones muddy our work. We have also learnt how to make incredible pour paintings with the most beautiful and intense patterned and textured outcomes – we even got into the swing of things and splatter painting using a pendulum hung from the studio ceiling. Our Painting Club is rooted in art history. For instance, the boys learn about the original abstract expressionist Jackson Pollock, as well as the lesser-known wild and wacky ways of modern-day painter Callen Schaub.

Lyndhurst House School on the value of teaching Art
Art makes life more enjoyable and helps us understand the world around us, says Hollie Slaughter – which is why it’s so important within the curriculum

Once a week budding artists gather for Art Scholarship Club during lunch break. Here, they determine their own theme to explore. The club is designed as an exploratory space for boys who are particularly interested in visual art – seeing it as a firm basis for their future studies – and who are committed to improving and developing their art understanding and skills. 

The Art curriculum is carefully crafted here, ensuring boys learn various drawing, painting, sculpting, designing, printing and mixed media techniques. We also ensure we expose them to essential knowledge and cultural capital. Art gives us meaning and helps us understand our world, therefore it is an integral part of our philosophy at Lyndhurst House. It allows our boys to have a deeper understanding of their emotions. It increases their self-awareness and also enables them to be open to innovative ideas and fresh experiences.

Lyndhurst House Preparatory School lyndhursthouse.co.uk

Further reading: King Alfred Lower School on giving children time to think