The benefits of doodling to a child’s mental health and learning capacity.
Contrary to popular belief, doodling really is magic! Adults have long associated it with being idle and not concentrating, but I’ve found the benefits of doodling to be almost endless - especially when it comes to a child’s (and adult’s!) mental health and learning capacity.
Doodling fosters healthy brain development, the ability to retain information and future creativity, yet it can be overlooked and brushed off as insignificant. We often actively discourage children from doing it, the idea being, we should give more time to ‘meaningful’ learning. In reality, doodling is one of the most impactful ways children learn. And for a young child, it’s one of their first steps towards handwriting and drawing.
Doodling allows us to take in information more efficiently
As humans, we learn by taking in information through four pathways: visual, auditory, reading/writing and kinaesthetic. And we need to engage in at least two of these to fully absorb something. So would you believe doodling requires all four?
In fact, research has shown that doodling actually helps us retain information. People who doodle when receiving verbal information retain 29% more than their counterparts! So perhaps the next time you need to have an important conversation with a child, do it while they’re doodling!
Doodling relieves tension in children (and us)
When left alone to doodle, children make a choice over what colours to use, what shapes to make and how much pressure they apply to their drawing instrument of choice - all without an adult encouraging them to do things in the ‘correct’ way.
Allowing children to doodle like this gives them the space they need to enter into a natural flow. Their heart rate and thoughts slow down creating the state in which children learn best. The action of doodling is very much like meditation. We can see it as a tool for children to sort and express thoughts and emotions in a tangible form.
Doodling in schools
I was a doodler at school and often reprimanded for it. Teachers accused me of not focusing on what was being taught, not listening and being distracted. What I know now is this couldn’t be further from the truth! Doodling is the opposite of being distracted. It not only enables information to be received more effectively but also helps the brain to stay alert for longer periods.
Some schools and teachers have caught on to the benefits of doodling and are now introducing doodle books into their learning process. Teachers are encouraging students to use their doodle pads when the teacher is talking as a way to calm them and ‘keep them in the class’, so to speak. And a 21st-century type of doodling has even hit the classrooms - sketch or graphic notes on tablets are a way of bringing doodling into the digital age.
Doodling and emotional development
Perhaps the most impressive thing in the list of the benefits of doodling for children is the positive effect it has on their emotional intelligence. It’s a fantastic tool for children to use to articulate and bring a form to their feelings, anxieties and stresses.
For a child, doodling work is uniquely theirs. If you ask them about their doodles, they'll be able to tell you intricate stories about them. They get so much more ownership than if a teacher asks the class to draw an elephant or a dog, for example. Don’t get me wrong, those kinds of activities are fantastic for bolstering confidence, creativity and mental health, but the practice of doodling is truly unique.
Do you want your child to start doodling?
You won’t be surprised to hear all this is why we wanted doodling to be the concept for our latest journal.
The Positive Doodle Diary is designed to empower kids with self-esteem and confidence through creativity and mindfulness and you’ll find doodling is a big feature throughout.
A few years on and I’m still a doodler. I find it a great way to stay present and stop myself from daydreaming during long phone calls and meetings. If you’re interested in finding out more about the subject, I love Doodle Revolutionary Sunni Brown’s Doodler’s Unite! TED Talk. She’s also written a book with a mission to bringing the power of the doodle to the world.
All in all, I find doodling hugely impressive! What do you think? I hope it encourages you to get the children you care for, and even you, involved!
Much love and doodling vibes, Finn x