Academic benefits of arts education for children

December 10, 2010 at 9:13 am Leave a comment

Pre-literacy skills such as reading and writing are greatly improved when students are exposed to a quality, integrated arts education. Research shows us that studying dance, for example, substantively helps preschoolers with reading readiness skills, while the discussion of music helps with language skills. The report “Critical Evidence:  How the Arts Benefit Student Achievement,” commissioned by the National Assembly of States Arts Agencies (2006), also found research demonstrating that dramatic play helps children’s comprehension skills and improves reading and pre-reading skills among all groups, especially those first graders whose reading was below grade level.

According to “Looking at Art with Toddlers,” by Katherina Danko-McGhee, Ph.D., exploring and discussing art with even very young children pays off by helping children organize their thoughts and develop logical, yet creative thinking. Children learn that “visual symbols can communicate ideas” and story telling can help improve descriptive language. Taking care to allow children the opportunity to talk, dramatize, sing, dance and otherwise creatively communicate allows them to sharpen their ability to use symbolic thought.

Math and logic and their relationships to the arts also hold a fascination for the researcher.

The highly publicized “Mozart Effect” revolutionized our society’s thinking about the value of music to the young child’s mind, and although specific results have been debated, it has generated new research and has come to symbolize a new way of thinking about the importance of the arts.

The 2006 National Assembly of State Arts Agencies report entitled “Critical Evidence: How the Arts Benefit Student Achievement,” analyzed studies that demonstrate measurable improvement in performance in math, especially among economically disadvantaged students. Music instruction is proven to help develop spatial temporal reasoning, which may lead to more sophisticated thinking about math concepts.

Beyond Academics

Perhaps more importantly than test scores and grades are the less tangible, but powerful effects that critical study of the arts can give us. These include cognitive skills such as reasoning ability, problem solving skills, creativity and inventiveness, all of which are improved when children discuss, create and participate in the arts. They learn to draw inferences and strengthen their abstract thinking. Research in “Critical Evidence” found increases in fluency, originality and improvisation among children with a good integrated arts education. Once again, the largest improvements were found among young children who had critical social and developmental needs and were struggling below their peer groups.

Improved self-esteem, perceptions of school and respect for others are other positive benefits of art exposure.

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Entry filed under: Performing Arts for Kids. Tags: , , , .

Performing arts classes yield huge beneift to kids Supporting arts eductation at the preschool age

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