Art education for children had all but disappeared from most American schools. There are many reasons for this phenomenon, some well-intentioned (albeit misguided) and others simply unfortunate. Despite the waning exposure kids have to the arts at school, science continues to demonstrate the many benefits of arts-based learning beginning at a young age. If the future of education continues to deprive children of exposure to the arts, it is up to parents and caregivers to advocate for arts education while finding alternative ways to provide it.
The Changing Face of American Education
Several key developments in American education have nearly stripped art-related education out of schools. The most common reason cited is funding. A focus on standards has also been instrumental in reducing educational focus on the arts due to schools competing for high marks on testing. As the economy slowly recovers from the economic turmoil of the last decade, schools in many states have begun to rebound from a funding perspective. However, rather than restore arts programs, states and school districts are placed an emphasis on beefing up STEM programs, rather than art-related learning initiatives.
Types of Art Education and Their Benefits
Creativity and innovation, both traits highly valued by employers, are developed through arts-related learning. Creativity gives rise to critical thinking, engagement and problem-solving. At every stage of a child’s life, from early childhood through college, art-related exposure and learning has been shown to greatly improve physical, cognitive, social and emotional development. In addition to these proven benefits, arts-related education increases confidence in children as well as focus, perseverance and non-verbal communication. Children learn to better handle constructive feedback and to collaborate with others. Finally, the arts improve a child’s dedication, self-discipline and accountability. Each of these skill sets directly influences a child’s academic success as well. The research reflects a strong correlation between arts education and academic achievement.
The Push to Keep Children Balanced
Educational experts provide clear recommendations for an educational approach that incorporates the arts. The research leaves little doubt that kids need arts education as a part of a comprehensive and well-rounded education, and to guarantee their future success in life. Parents, caregivers and other family members can help by advocating for more art education programs in your school district. Meanwhile, experts advise not waiting for school programs to expose your kids to the arts. Dance, music, theater and the visual arts are all of equal importance and kids should be introduced to all four in early childhood.
Private teachers can provide beneficial learning opportunities however the research is clear that kids derive significantly greater benefit from group classes, lessons and programs. If your community has a children’s arts academy, enroll your kids as early as possible. There is no fear of starting them too early and professional arts educators can tailor classes specifically to a particular age group. Students with that level of involvement were four times more likely to participate in a science or math fair, win an award for writing an essay, or be recognized for academic achievement. Parents are always on the lookout for ways to help their children get ahead. Nothing is more influential and fun than arts-related education.