Kate encourages children to seek alternatives to social media use

Kate encourages children to seek alternatives to social media use
Kate encourages children to seek alternatives to social media use

The Duchess of Cambridge has spoken out in praise of children who turn from social media to the arts – and confessed to a love of tie dye.

Kate commented about what can be achieved by youngsters who turn off the internet and sketch during a visit to a London secondary school to mark Children’s Mental Health Week.

And she revealed how she is passing on her passion for the arts to her children, saying Prince George was inspired to draw with charcoal found in a fireplace at home.

With award-winning Andria Zafirakou, named as the world’s best teacher, hosting her visit to Alperton Community School in Brent, she was given a fact-finding tour of the institution to learn how it is supporting the well-being of students and staff.

Ms Zafirakou, an art and textiles teacher, introduced Kate to her A-level student Shaquille, 16, who showed her detailed pencil sketches he has produced as a break from social media.

Kate looked impressed and replied: “This is what you can do if you don’t use social media – a fantastic advert.”

Earlier when Kate joined a roundtable discussion with staff about students’ school readiness and teacher welfare, she was told social media was one of the big challenges the institution faced.

During her visit to the art class the duchess spoke about tie dye, the fashion mainstay of the hippie generation which was taught to countless children in schools during the 70s and 80s.

When Ms Zafirakou explained the different types of printing taught in her classes, Kate said with a laugh: “I’m desperate to go back to tie dye.”

When asked if she was interested in art the duchess, who studied History of Art at university, said she “loved it” adding: “It’s something I’m loving doing with the children – papier mache – I forgot how messy it is, but it’s really great.”

She also said her son George had found a piece of charcoal in a fireplace and told her: “‘Mummy I’m going to draw a picture’ – that’s what’s so nice you can do it from all around you.”

Earlier Kate produced a treasured family photo when she joined a group of primary schoolchildren asked to take in an object that makes them happy.

Kate took the image used for her 2018 Christmas card, showing her with the Duke of Cambridge and their three children, George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis.

The duchess joined the pupils during a visit to Lavender Primary School in Enfield, north London.

Ms Zafirakou, who was awarded a million dollars (£766,000) in prize money and the 2018 Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize, praised the royal visit to her school.

Commenting on Kate’s admission she does art with her children she said: “So she’s a very hands on mum who understands about being creative – it’s just brilliant and lovely to hear that and as a mother myself I know exactly what that means.”

She stressed how the school supports not only the pupils’ academic aspirations but their personal development: “Our approach is that we’re not an exam factory type of school, we do look at the children’s well-being and prepare them for their futures and also how to look after themselves.

“And I don’t think we would ever survive if we don’t have that approach.”