Art and music programs are beneficial elements to a child’s education, providing a strong foundation for learning. Often times, these programs are seen as a luxury for schools, however they should be viewed as a necessity in the development of our children. It is as important for children to develop emotionally and socially, in the same way they grow academically.
In 1999, former U.S. Secretary of Education, Richard Riley, stated, “Through engagement with the arts, young people can better begin lifelong journeys of developing their capabilities and contributing to the world around them. The arts teach young people how to learn by giving them the first step: the desire to learn.”
Art and music programs kickstart the journey to learning, and while these programs must be instilled at a young age, the programs should continue to be a part of a student’s education well into high school.
Benefits of Art and Music Programs
Better Academic Performance
Based on four studies conducted by the NEA, there is evidence that art and music programs are helping students to be successful long-term. The programs offer a change of pace in the day-to-day schedule of math, reading, science, and history classes, resulting in increased student engagement.
The studies conducted by the NEA tracked children, teenagers, and young adults who had high or low levels of arts engagement in or out of school. Activities tracked included music, dance, theater, and visual arts; out-of-school art lessons; and membership, participation, and leadership in arts organizations and activities, such as band or theater.
Results showed that students with higher levels of participation in art and music programs had “better academic outcomes with higher overall grades, higher participation in sports and extracurricular activities, a higher likelihood of planning for attending 2-4 year colleges, and eventually more likely to earn their bachelor’s degree.”
Furthermore, students who have experience with art and music programs tend to score higher on the SAT. One report indicates a 63-point increase on the verbal portion and a 44-point increase on math, specifically for students in music appreciation courses.
Keep Children Out of Trouble
According to the National Arts Education Public Awareness Campaign, “An arts education has a measurable impact on at-risk youth in deterring delinquent behavior and truancy problems while also increasing overall academic performance among those youth engaged in after school and summer arts programs targeted toward delinquency prevention.”
Once students become involved in risky behaviors punishable by law, it is difficult to stop these behaviors. That is where art and music programs come into play. These programs give students a safe and healthy environment with creative activities for emotional and social growth.
Simple creative activities in art and music programs are some of the building blocks of child development.
According to the National Institutes of Health, motions involved in creating art, such as holding a crayon, using a paintbrush, or cutting paper with safety scissors, are essential to the growth of motor skills at ages as young as three. Additionally, students who practice with musical instruments can improve hand-eye coordination.
Art and music programs provide opportunities for children to learn words for colors, shapes, sounds, and instruments. As children grow from toddlers to students, they begin to use descriptive words to explain their own artwork, and even to talk about the feelings elicited when they see different styles of artwork or hear genres of music.
According to a report by Americans for the Arts, art and music education strengthens problem-solving and critical-thinking skills.
“If they are exploring and thinking and experimenting and trying new ideas, then creativity has a chance to blossom,” says MaryAnn Kohl, an arts educator and author of numerous books about children’s art education.
Visual-spatial skills are developed in art and music programs by drawing, sculpting with clay, and memorizing musical compositions. These skills allow children to perceive the world accurately and form mental pictures.
“Art education teaches students how to interpret, criticize, and use visual information, and how to make choices based on it,” said Dr. Kerry Freedman, Head of Art and Design Education at Northern Illinois University.
Knowledge on the visual arts is especially important in helping kids become smart consumers.
The art and music programs available to children help to develop the entire brain. While the left side of the brain is focused on sequencing, math, facts, and logic–things students learn in science, math, and grammar classes, the right side of the brain is focused on imagination, rhythm, arts, and intuition.
Art and music programs allow children to express themselves and take risks, instilling skills of innovation, creativity, and forward-thinking. Introducing these programs in early childhood years can foster a positive attitude toward learning and curiosity and can help them solve problems by thinking outside of the box.
Success in Society
Learning within art and music programs promotes craftsmanship, encourages students to learn and be productive, and sparks the desire to contribute to society in creative ways. This desire can then be applied to all subjects of study.
Music and art programs are the fabric of our society, shaping abilities and character on emotional and social levels. These programs often evoke feelings of empathy toward other cultures on an emotional level, but also develop higher self esteem within students on a social level, offering outlets to anxiety.
Children who learn to play an instrument or master an art medium can learn a valuable lesson in discipline. Additionally, many art and music programs require teamwork. In these groups, students will learn how to work together and build camaraderie–essential skills for being successful in society.
Art and music programs have a strong impact on the future leaders of tomorrow, through all stages of life. These programs offer many benefits, to include better academic performance, an effective outlet to keep children out of trouble, positive childhood development, and general success in society.
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