Importance of the Arts for Children
by Andrew Csafordi,
Encaustic Artist and Co-Owner, ANDARA Gallery
"I am a firm believer that creativity and the arts benefits us all, that it is a big part of all of us, especially children."
The arts instil pride. When your child puts his or her heart and soul into an art project—and spends hours working on it, cultivating it, and making it beautiful and learning form it — they feel an enormous sense of accomplishment when it’s complete. “The arts are a great leveller, as we are all in the same boat, learning to create and succeed in new, fun and unexpected ways,” says Dory Kanter, an educational consultant and arts/literacy curriculum writer and teaching trainer. “Children not only become appreciators of each other’s work, but also develop skills of self-reflection in the effort to bring their personal vision to fruition.”
The arts lead to higher test scores in the classroom. Self-esteem increases when a child feels confident in the classroom. Skills learned from studying the arts including concentration and dedication, affects classroom values and test scores. In fact, a 2005 Harris Poll found that 93 percent of North Americans agreed the arts are vital to providing a well-rounded education for children. In another 2009 study, 12 years of data was collected for the National Educational Longitudinal Survey to look at the effect of education, visual, and performing arts on the achievement and values of children. The study found that students who were highly involved with the arts outperformed less-involved peers, even within low socioeconomic groups. Visual arts and music, in particular, helps provide children with improved classroom skills, including critical thinking, creative problem solving, team work, and effective communication.
Decision Making: Art education strengthens problem-solving and critical-thinking skills. The experience of making decisions and choices in the course of creating art carries over into other parts of life. “If they are exploring and thinking and experimenting and trying new ideas, then creativity has a chance to blossom,” says MaryAnn Kohl, an arts educator and author of numerous books about children’s art education.
Inventiveness: When kids are encouraged to express themselves and take risks in creating art, they develop a sense of innovation that will be important in their adult lives. “The kind of people society needs to make it move forward are thinking, inventive people who seek new ways and improvements, not people who can only follow directions,” says Kohl. “Art is a way to encourage the process and the experience of thinking and making things better!”
Nurturing talent with artistic pursuits. Elliot Eisner, a professor of education at Stanford University, offers a deeper understanding of the role of the arts in a child’s life: “The arts teach children that problems can have more than one solution and that questions can have more than one answer. The arts celebrate multiple perspectives. One of the large lessons kids can learn from practicing the arts is that there are many ways to see and interpret the world.” Dr. Eisner’s view that the arts can be about problem solving leads us away from the idea that children’s art is only about making aesthetically pleasing objects or providing entertainment, and gives a parents and teachers a way to help children be more innovative in very simple, yet powerful ways.
Creative thinking and reasoning, have been identified as an essential twenty-first-century skill by many business, education, community and government leaders. As our children grow and develop, introducing them to the idea that the arts involve creative problem solving and in fact is often fun will teach them how to manage frustration, uncertainty and ambiguity with innovative ideas and solutions.
Through the arts, our children can learn how to express their unique identities, while simultaneously developing habits of mind that will help them succeed and grow anywhere, from the playground, home to the work.