The Importance of the Arts

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The arts unlock a world of creativity for your child. Help your kids tap into their imaginations at home and around town.

My favorite classes in grade school were art and music. Whether finger painting or gluing a macaroni masterpiece, learning to play a flutophone or being part of the school play, being involved in anything artistic was a huge part of who I am today. Any child who gets into the arts will reap numerous benefits.

The influence of arts education for kids is long reaching. Studies have shown that arts eduction fosters brain development that leads to better learning in other areas. In fact, the National Association for Music Education conducted a study where scientists used functional MRIs to scan the brains of pianists and non-musicians of the same age and gender. The study concludes the brains of the musicians are more efficient at skilled movements.

With arts programs continually dwindling in schools, it’s important for parents to provide creative experiences for their kids whether it’s enrolling them in arts classes or taking them to a theater production or live music concert. However, in between your child’s current activities and interests, involving him in dance lessons, music instruction or art classes can feel stressful, but it doesn’t have to be. Instead of beginning several classes or projects, look for artistic opportunities that will enhance your child’s current interests or personality.

Simple acts such as strolling through a local art fair, attending a local theater production, going to a kid-friendly concert or purchasing a paint-by-numbers kit can be the springboard your child needs to launch an artistic interest. There are lots of ways you can provide creativity boosters at home like providing a variety of art supplies and a space for kids to create; supply props and costumes to encourage dramatic play and imagination; make musical instruments from common household items and play music in the house often; or practice movement as it relates to music or rhythm such as clapping, marching or rocking. Once your child gravitates toward a particular art form — or more than one! — go ahead and look into local arts classes. There is an abundance of them here in Middle Tennessee in dance, music, visual art and drama.

According to Elliot W. Eisner, author of The Arts and the Creation of Mind (Yale University Press, 2004), art is a basic part of a solid education, and he offers 10 points of why art education is important for children:

• Creating art helps children discover the unexpected possibilities of their creativity.
• Art teaches critical thinking rather than getting the right answer.
• Through art, children learn that problems can have more than one solution and that questions can have more than one answer.
• Art teaches students about subtleties.
• Art teaches children to evaluate and make good judgments about qualitative relationships.
• Art reminds us that the limits of our language do not define the limits of our thinking.
• Art celebrates multiple perspectives and different ways to see and interpret the world.
• Art teaches students to explore through and within possible responses.
• Art empowers children to say what cannot be said.
• Art enables us to discover the range and variety of what we are capable of doing.

Chad Young is the managing editor and arts/entertainment editor for this publication.

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