Throughout a child’s education the fundamental tools of learning are taught. A child learns how to think, understand and remain curious about the world around them. They learn the basics, such as mathematics, proper grammar and the sciences. This discipline of education instructs a child how to adapt and work with the surrounding world. However, the ability to express oneself, to look at the world through other people’s eyes and explain the aesthetic beauty of the world around us comes from education in the arts.
Although, many see the necessity for arts education in a child’s schooling, several programs are losing funding and are being cut from the school curriculum. This is why it is imperative to understand the benefits of arts education programs and how they can change your child’s education and life. The benefits are invaluable as demonstrated in the work collected by the Americans for the Arts, the nation's leading nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing the arts in America by representing and serving local communities and creating opportunities for every American to participate in and appreciate all forms of the arts. Their message is that the arts teach kids to be more tolerant and open, allows for creative expression, promotes individuality, bolsters self-confidence, and improves overall academic performance. The arts can also help at-risk youth, providing an alternative to delinquent behavior and truancy while providing an improved attitude towards school. The benefits continue, stating that young people who participate in the arts for at least three hours on three days each week through at least one full year are:
- 4 times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement
- 3 times more likely to be elected to class office within their schools
- 4 times more likely to participate in a math and science fair
- 3 times more likely to win an award for school attendance
- 4 times more likely to win an award for writing an essay or poem
Studies and statistics are continually being compiled so that we may fully understand the impact the arts have on children’s lives. However, it takes more then just statistics to prove the importance of arts education. It takes a passion, understanding and willingness to improve the arts education programs in your community. It is essential to know and understand where arts education stands in your community and state. For example, did you know that Massachusetts’s arts education programs in the public schools are not mandated statewide? Which means arts education programs do not have to be offered in the public school. With little requirement for the state public schools, children many not receive adequate exposure to the arts.
Advocacy for arts education programs in your community begins with your awareness and voice! Learn about the arts education programs in your surrounding public schools and focus on how the programs can broaden and thrive. Check out community arts programs that are offered in your area. Do they offer arts education for both children and adults? You can contact state legislators or simply volunteer for art programs in your community schools. Be an advocate for arts in the schools. Children who learn to appreciate the arts at a young age and learn to express themselves through art are given an invaluable gift. It is through your help that these children will continue to express and discipline themselves through the power of art.
For more information, take a look at these informative websites discussing arts education, its benefits, and tips on what you can do to make arts education in your community’s schools a reality. Check out: www.naea-reston.org and www.artsusa.org. If you would like to find out more information about arts education public school policy, check out: www.aep-arts.org/policysearch/searchengine.