Art Improves Test Scores and Graduation Rates
Kids use more of their brain when learning through art. Long-term retention increases, for example, and children develop a greater understanding of concepts—not to mention, they’re more likely to pay attention, according to Dr. Matthew Lynch.
“When students are allowed academic expression through artistic means, like drawing a picture or writing a song, the information is embedded in their minds. Long-term learning and practical application of knowledge are both supported when the arts are integrated.”
Lynch notes that a New York public middle school saw an eight percent improvement in language arts scores, a nine percent increase in math scores, and reduced absenteeism after implementing an arts integration program.
Arts Outside the Classroom Also Beneficial
But, it’s not just arts in schools that help kids get better grades; extracurricular artistic pursuits also support academic achievement. A University of Toronto study found a group of six-year-olds scored three points higher on IQ tests after a year of music lessons. In the same study, kids who studied drama didn’t have higher IQs but experienced behavioral benefits. The difference between kids who study music and those who don’t is also noticeable on neurological tests, which show increased neural activity in musically trained kids.
How Parents Can Increase Arts in Education
Enthusiastic parents who want to support their child’s learning have many options. The nuts and bolts of arts are everywhere—from a box of crayons to grand cultural monuments in urban communities. Parenting writer Grace Hwang Lynch recommends engaging with children using crafts associated with their cultural heritage such as making kites on Japanese Children’s Day. Local museums often have youth programs or designated family attendance days, and parents can cultivate awareness of art and creativity in the community by pointing out architectural details or murals on buildings.
Families can keep it simple by providing space and materials for children to be creative. Especially with young kids, formal art materials aren’t necessary; modeling clay, paper, fabric, wool, shells, buttons, and other trinkets can be the building blocks of many a child’s imagination. Parents can also expand on children’s existing interests to spark an interest in art—kids who like nature can be exposed to wildlife or landscape painters and photographers, while those who enjoy science fiction might appreciate surrealist sculpture and visual media.