Thirteen-year-old Erikah didn’t like turning on their computer camera and talking during remote math class this last year. They missed being able to raise their hand to call the teacher over if they need to ask for help, and found it hard to focus on classwork in their apartment.

Like many other middle schoolers, Erikah found remote learning to be a frustrating and isolating experience.

But there’s one class they look forward to, even though it’s also beamed over the internet. Every week after regular classes are over for the day, Erikah joins a group of students from the school online to create art with “Miss Keller,” Erikah’s favorite teacher.

Stephanie Keller is a licensed creative arts therapist for Counseling in Schools. Since last March, Keller has met with a group of middle school students from Intermediate School 238 in Queens, New York for virtual art therapy sessions.

Art therapy uses drawing, painting, and other art-based practices “as a way to connect, and to develop a therapeutic relationship,” said Keller. Not only does it allow students to express emotions, it provides behavioral support and stress management, she said.

To Erikah, the program is a must. “Art therapy is an amazing thing and I think every kid should do it,” they said. “If you have problems like focusing or with anger issues like me, it really calms you down.”

Now, if Erikah gets frustrated during class or while working on an assignment, they pull out one of the drawings from their sessions or just start drawing to help focus.

Read the full article about art therapy in schools by Javeria Salman at The Hechinger Report.