Art as a mode of familial stress reduction in an academic setting

This paper describes the effective use of art activities with college student mothers and their preschool children in the Child Development Center of Los Angeles Valley College. The purpose of the classes was to use simple, unstructured art activities as a means of reducing the stress of the student parents during exam time. The activities provided parents an opportunity to work and play with their children for a short period each day during final examination week at the college. Nine parents and fourteen children participated. Two pre- and post-tests were given on the following dimensions: (1) states of feelings: calm, relaxed, happy, energetic, tired, tense, anxious, and unhappy; (2) usual mood: relaxed, tense, even-tempered, and irritable. A post-test on attitude toward the child in the previous (exam) week revealed half the mothers felt more nervous. The project was successful in its purpose, as demonstrated in the results of the post-tests, which revealed considerable lessening of stress immediately following participation in the class. The opportunity to relax and communicate with their child without interruption was noted by the parents. Of the four art activities, clay was the one that parents and children engaged in longest. This study indicates that stress reducing art activities during exam week can easily be provided for student parents and their children with favorable results.