Why School Kids Still Need the Arts

 

Why kids need art in schoolBy Mimi Greenwood Knight

No child has to be taught to love the arts. It’s hardwired from birth. Think of a baby beckoning her mom to the crib with a melodious “ma ma ma ma” or gripping the coffee table, bobbing up and down to Daddy’s music then finger painting his dinner across his highchair tray. Picture a toddler beating out a tune on the pots and pans and clomping around in your shoes, or your preschooler nestling into you as you read Goodnight Moon just one more time. What you’re witnessing are the earliest instincts toward music, dance, acting, painting, and literature.

The non-profit organization Americans for the Arts asserts that students who participate in the arts are:

  • Four times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement
  • Three times more likely to be elected to a class office
  • Four times more likely to participate in a math or science fair
  • Three times more likely to win an award for school attendance
  • Four times more likely to win an award for writing an essay or poem

 

Two decades of research centered around children and the arts established that music, dance, theatre, literature, and visual arts help students:

  • Exercise imagination and think “outside of the box”                                
  • Connect with peers
  • Express emotions appropriately
  • Develop self-discipline
  • Set and reach personal goals
  • Develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills
  • Empathize with others
  • Present or express what they’ve learned creatively
  • Improve comprehension and retention rates
  • Develop observation, analysis, interpretation, and evaluation skills that can be transferred into other areas of study
  • Understand personal, local, national, and global cultures, past and present
  • Envision the idea of “lifelong learning”
  • Find a place to shine if they’re not academically or athletically gifted

Watch to see what piques their interest. Then look for a school that emphasizes process over product, with small classes and a teacher who can control the class but keeps things fun. Keep your motivation in check. Your child’s foray into the arts should never be about you living vicariously through them but about offering them the lifelong gift of the arts.

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