Most people would agree with the concept that a child’s family life has the most influence on his development. The school they attend comes in second to that, and most children attend public schools. Families have always looked to the public school system to provide their children with a well-rounded education. Reading, writing, arithmetic, and science are not the only subjects needed to shape a child. A fine arts curriculum is essential to the development of children and teenagers.
Music helps the body and mind work together. Exposing children to music in early development helps them learn the sounds and the meaning of words. Students who have early musical training develop the areas of their brain related to language and reasoning. Music can help you study and those who listen to music while studying have a more effective result. When you play an instrument it is like a vigorous brain workout. It increases hand-eye coordination, helps with pattern recognition, and develops spatial intelligence. Students who have experience in music performance or appreciation actually score higher on SATs.
Many of the motions involved in making art, such as holding a paintbrush or scribbling with crayons, enhance the fine motor skills in young children. Threading beads, drawing, and sculpting clay all develop visual-spatial skills. Making or studying art appreciation increases a student’s ability to see different perspectives. Studies show that there is a correlation between art and all other achievements. A report by Americans for the Arts states that young people who regularly participate in the arts are four times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement.
Drama activities improve reading comprehension, as well as verbal and non-verbal communication skills. Drama helps to improve school attendance and reduces high school dropout rates. Many high school students will go to school just to rehearse for and perform in their school plays. Drama is excellent at improving the skills and academic performance in children and youth with learning disabilities. Writing skills are highly improved as students write plays for others to perform in. High school students who are highly involved in drama demonstrate greater self-esteem over those who are not involved. The act of performing can help students recognize their ability to succeed and improve their confidence.
In general, students who participate in fine arts strengthen these characteristics:
- Creativity- Painting, composing, performing a monologue in 5 different ways
- Focus- Through ensemble work, memorizing, character roles
- Collaboration- participation in theatre, music or dance ensembles
- Perseverance- Practicing, performing, art shows
- Non-verbal communication- Improvisation, dance, music lessons, concerts, developing a character for a play
- Problem-solving- Turning clay into sculpture, Portraying emotion through dance, fixing problems in the middle of a theatrical performance
- Receiving constructive feedback- Receiving feedback is a regular part of fine arts instruction. Children learn to accept feedback rather than being offended by it.
- Confidence-Theatre training gives children practice stepping out of their comfort zone. It allows them to make mistakes and learn from them during rehearsal. This brings confidence.
- Accountability- Children learn that when they don’t do their own preparation, the play, concert or art show is affected. They learn that their actions affect others.
While in college, many students major in the arts and go on to pursue a career in theatre, music or art. Unfortunately, too many public schools are getting rid of their fine arts programs all around the country. This is because of budget deficits. The fine arts program costs more money than the sports program and is the first to go when cutting costs. Many parents have had to play a major role in exposing their children to the arts. In some cases, the parents’ involvement has enabled a future career in the arts for their child.
- Celine Dion, the youngest of 14 children, grew up in a close-knit musical family. Her parents formed a singing group and they toured Canada when Celine was still an infant. Along with her parents, every sibling either sang, played an instrument or both. Although the love of music permeated the home, Celine Dion was the only child who wanted to pursue a career in music. At the age of 12, Dion’s mother actually wrote a song for her to sing to a music producer. As her career blossomed, she became a powerful vocalist, loving what she does to this day.
- Philippe Hoerle Guggenheim began collecting art as a child. His mother had been a major inspiration in his life. According to Guggenheim, “She pulled me into museums at a young age when I didn’t necessarily want to go. I learned to appreciate the experience over time. A 3 or 4-year-old can find better things to do with his time than walk around the Louvre. In hindsight, it all makes sense and I learned to appreciate art from a unique perspective.” Guggenheim currently owns the art gallery, the HG Contemporary.
- Timmy Williamson, homeschooled in junior high and high school, had a passion for music. His mother took great delight in Timmy’s powerful tenor voice and found a homeschool co-op for him to attend while he was in junior high. Timmy found his niche at this enrichment school and played the lead in many musicals. This gave him a tremendous amount of confidence in his singing ability. Timmy majored in musical theatre in college and found that he had a passion for gospel music. Timmy currently tours the country, singing the gospel music he loves so much.
As public schools keep pulling fine arts away from our children, it is crucial for parents to find every way imaginable to bring the experience to their children. With all the extra time and money we spend, the reward will be huge, in every way.