Across the nation, public schools are in a budget crunch which forces administrators to look for ways to cut back on spending. In addition to freezing teacher salaries and holding off on needed structural updates, schools look to “elective” programs to eliminate to save money, such as art, music, and PE. However, schools should not be so quick to cut these programs, as they have many benefits for our children.
1. Art Benefits Student Achievement: Students who participate in arts programs are at least three times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement, have higher scores on standardized tests, elected to class office within their schools, participate in a math and science fair, win an award for school attendance and win an award for writing an essay or poem.
2. Art Increases Self-Esteem and Creativity: Children see that efforts pay off when creating something unique. There is a sense of pride and accomplishment.
3. Younger students use art to explore the world: Elementary school kids in particular are still growing their vocabulary. They learn better from hands-on experiences than from verbal instruction. Art helps children use their five senses and movement to learn about the world around them.
4. Art enhances critical thinking skills: Learning through art helps a young child’s brain make synapses, or connections of neurons, which will enhance their learning. For example, third-grade art students who participated in the Guggenheim Learning Through Art Program performed better in six categories of literacy and critical thinking skills including thorough description, hypothesizing and reasoning.
5. The Arts help children learn skills beneficial to their adult future: Kids also learn planning and problem-solving skills which will greatly benefit them in their future.
6. Art is a core academic subject: Art can be used to reinforce other disciplines. Pouring glue, creating ceramics, and mixing paint can help teach scientific principles. Sorting, patterning, and categorizing can help reinforce math skills.
7. Art helps thwart behavioral problems: Arts education has a measurable impact on at-risk youth in deterring delinquent behavior and truancy problems by keeping them engaged. Students also learn about persisting through periods of difficulty.
8. Art can help children communicate emotions: “Art is an irreplaceable way of understanding and expressing the world,” says National Endowment for the Arts chairman Dana Gioia.
9. Jobs in the arts are expected to increase in the near future: Employment in arts-related jobs are expected to rise 16% through 2016, which is faster than the national average in most fields. Nationally, the nonprofit arts and culture industry generates 5.7 million jobs every year and $166.2 billion into the economy.
"Arts education," Robert Sabol, the president of the National Art Education Association said, "must be considered part of the essential education of every American citizen."
Here are a few ways you as a parent can support your child’s art education:
1. Sing, play music, read a book, dance, make crafts, or draw with your child at home.
2. Encourage your child to participate in creative outlets and celebrate their participation in arts activities both in their school and the community.
3. Visit your local library and read "the classics" together—from Mother Goose to Walt Whitman.
4. Attend a school board or PTA meeting and voice your support for adequately funded arts education programs as part of the school’s budget
5. Tell your child’s teacher or principal about how vital the arts are to quality education. Ask them what they need and how you can help!
6. Read your local newspaper or community website to find out about local cultural events for you and your child to enjoy.
7. Donate time, supplies, or other resources to your child’s school or a local arts organization's education programs.
Americans for the Arts: Arts Education Facts
National Assembly of State Arts Agencies (NASAA)