As parents, our goal is to raise children who are self-sufficient, resilient, and able to thrive after they leave the nest. They need to be ready to enter a workforce with new jobs that do not even exist today. To prepare for adulthood, our children need to have a well-rounded education.
Just as important as a strong foundation in core curriculum subjects—like math, language, science, and history—is learning about the performing, literary, and visual arts. Exposure to the arts is a vital part of developing the whole child due to the positive impact the arts can have upon academic and social development.
If we consider what is necessary in every situation, regardless of what advances in technology and globalization occur—it’s the ability to know oneself and work with others that is essential for success. Today and tomorrow, people with strong intrapersonal and interpersonal success skills will be better able to solve problems.
Benefits Include School Engagement
Plus Fewer Disciplinary Infractions
“Creativity is now as important in education as literacy,” according to educator and scholar Sir Ken Robinson. As our world becomes more interconnected and complicated, creativity is the key to identifying new and innovative solutions. The arts are an ideal way to encourage children to develop into adults who are creative problem solvers. In fact, a recent Conference Board Survey of American CEOs found the number one trait they seek in today’s graduates is creativity.
Arts advocates were delighted to learn the results of a 2019 study from the Kinder Institute at Rice University. Through a randomized controlled trial with 10,548 students from 42 schools across the Houston area, the study found that students who received arts education experienced fewer disciplinary infractions, had more compassion for others, and improved writing skills. Other benefits were improved school engagement and college aspirations.
Students involved in the arts are excited to come to school. An arts-rich education helps shape student’s minds for creative inquiry, build intellectual muscle for asking what-if and if-then questions, and develop outside-the-box thinking. When students are given a chance to express themselves and channel their learning through the arts, it opens a whole world of possibilities.
Arts for Learning, the Virginia affiliate of Young Audiences, provides arts-infused educational programming in Virginia and helps children overcome social, cultural, personal, and academic barriers. The mission of Arts for Learning is to inspire and engage students in and through the arts by providing educationally linked, hands-on, and interactive arts experiences delivered by professional artists. The focus of this nonprofit’s work is under-served children. No child is ever charged to attend one of the performances or workshops.
Currently celebrating its 65th anniversary, Arts for Learning goes beyond providing “arts for art’s sake.” At all Arts for Learning programs, musicians, dancers, storytellers and visual artists create programs for students from Pre-K through high school that tie directly to the core classroom curriculum and the Virginia Standards of Learning (SOLs). These programs aim to create long-lasting connections and reach students who struggle with traditional methods of learning.
Better Teamwork and Communication
Arts in School Benefits Communities, Too
When the arts are integrated into the education of our children, it values and enhances their diverse intelligences and learning styles. The arts provide a unique platform to discuss different cultures, socioeconomic levels, and current events while broadening students’ ability to think imaginatively and collaboratively. The arts also create a safe space for students to explore their talents and build confidence.
The 5 C’s that the Virginia Department of Education has deemed necessary for all students to learn—critical thinking, creativity, communication, collaboration, and citizenship—can all be fostered through arts education. These soft skills are crucial for employee and business success. Better teamwork, communication, and customer interaction all make workers more effective and adaptable, even in the face of automation.
The simple act of teaching a child to experience different lives and circumstances through music, dance, and visual arts and other creative outlets contributes to a more diverse workforce where people from all walks of life are welcomed, valued, and encouraged to succeed.
Providing all students access to the arts will not only transforms their lives, but also will transform our community. Equitable arts access for all students is needed so all members of the community can benefit. Failure to offer education in the arts not only diminishes each child’s creative capacity, it diminishes all of us.
To learn more, www.Arts4LearningVA.org.
Christine Everly is Chief Executive Officer of Arts for Learning, the Virginia Affiliate of Young Audiences.