From preschool to high school, the movement to include arts education is gaining momentum. Once a “nice to have” option for students, research and first-hand experience demonstrate how the arts can impact all academic subjects and, ultimately, future careers. From engineering to health care, you don’t have to look too deeply to see an artistic influence in a wide variety of fields.
Open to all children between the ages of 18 months and 5 years, the program takes an evidence-based, holistic and collaborative approach, giving children the chance to explore the fine arts, nature, science, math and music and how they all connect.
It may be tough for parents to know if they have a tiny Picasso on their hands, but even if children haven’t expressed an outward interest in the arts, exposure to the arts and its concepts are valuable in preschool and beyond.
Here are 10 reasons why every child should receive an arts education:
1. Art is a form of communication
At Preschool of the Arts, educators see art as a “graphic language” – a method in which young children can express their thoughts and ideas. Through a brush stroke or sculpted clay, that art form becomes a dialogue between educator and child.
“Our educators encourage young children to communicate and express their thoughts through this medium, and in turn, we’re able to ‘listen’ to children through observation,” explains Rachel Lessard, executive director of Preschool of the Arts.
2. Art teaches perseverance
Learning a new skill requires patience and dedication. Most people don’t create a masterpiece on their first try.
"Fine arts can be challenging,” Lessard says. “We're not all innately gifted with Stravinsky's musical ability or Rembrandt's artistic mastery. When learning anything new, it's often difficult to develop new techniques and skills. The perseverance required to learn these ideas and techniques is an essential life skill that will help a child as he or she grows."
3. Art develops motor skills
For preschoolers, simply learning to hold a paint brush or play a musical instrument helps them develop fine motor skills that are beneficial as they grow and develop.
4. Art builds confidence
Students gain a real sense of accomplishment when they use their imagination to complete a piece of art. They begin to trust their own creativity. Even if it’s a finger painting taped to the wall of the classroom, they see the work as valued and appreciated. They see their progress and growth through the processes of art.
5. Art creates focus
Engaging a child in painting, drawing or music gives them a specific task. They learn to channel their creativity and focus on the task at hand.
6. Art strengthens decision-making
Blue or green. Chalk or paint. Through the process of creating art and music, children learn to rely on their own instincts and opinions. The ability to make a decision and follow it through is a skill they will use throughout their lives.
7. Art fosters innovation
At its core, art is about making something entirely new. Children can express their unique perspectives and ideas through their artist expression and ingenuity.
8. Art improves academic performance
Research continues to support the importance of arts on a child’s overall academic success. The many skills they develop as young artists – creativity, perseverance and focus – translate into other areas of education.
9. Art increases cultural awareness
Through exploration, children gain a familiarity with various artistic movements, periods and artists, opening their eyes to art around the world and how other cultures use and appreciate art.
10. Art creates curiosity
Exposure to different artists, techniques and media allow children to ask questions and make meaningful connections between varying artistic movements. This curiosity translates far beyond art education, and becomes a part of their learning styles and outlook in life.