Early arts education has long-term benefits

When it comes to measuring educational achievement, educators and government officials put a great deal of emphasis on math and reading. While those subjects are undoubtedly important, arts education can yield equally important benefits for students at all ages.

A recent study outlined in Education Week found students exposed to the arts had greater tolerance and empathy toward others along with improved critical thinking skills. Early introduction to the arts builds a generation of adults who appreciate arts in their community and are likely to attend theater performances, concerts or join in an art walk.

Americans for the Arts points out research showing students who take four years of art and music classes in high school on average score 100 points better on their SATs than students who only had half a year or less of art and music. Even an article in Fast Company details how many tech CEOs prefer students with a liberal arts degree because of their creativity and critical thinking skills.

Pinewood Preparatory School in Summerville has introduced music and visual arts programs, starting with Pre-K students. The school offers chorus, handbells and even bucket drumming. The theater arts programs allows students the chance to perform on stage while learning the basics of acting, lighting, scenic design, costume design, makeup design and puppetry.

Pinewood’s music program focuses on such concepts as singing, listening, creating, playing and reading music – all of which are in line with National Standards for Music Education. Plus, educators consistently work to integrate music instruction with specific themes being studied in other academic areas.

It’s about making arts a seamless part of all academics as a way to build a generation that not only appreciates the arts as patrons but also can take advantage of the skills an arts-infused education provides: creativity, critical thinking and a greater awareness and appreciation of the world around them.

"Education and participation in the fine arts is essential to the development of our children, particularly in our data-driven world,” said Pinewood parent Amy Hungerford. “Music, drama, art and dance teach expression, self-esteem, creativity, independent thinking, social skills, team building and cultural awareness and diversity.

“Studies show that it improves overall academic performance, independent learning and frees the mind from rigidity to allow for out-of-the-box thinking,” she added. “Most importantly, it is accessible to every student, regardless of learning difficulties or age, as I have seen with my own children here at Pinewood.”

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