Parents may remember, back when they were kids, schools had real classes—math, science, history—and fun classes—art and music. Parents may also remember they perhaps didn’t take art or music very seriously, looking at it more like a break from the demands of serious academics than an actual learning experience.

As adults, we know the term “art” is an umbrella for many artistic endeavors, including:

  • Visual Arts
    • Drawing
    • Painting
    • Sculpting
    • Ceramics
    • Conceptual
    • Architecture
    • Photography
  • Performing Arts
    • Music
    • Theatre
    • Dance
  • Literary Arts
    • Fiction
    • Non-fiction
    • Drama
    • Poetry

Schools usually leave literary arts to English teachers, and many schools offer some basic drawing, painting, or music classes to students. But why? In a world of technology, of what value is art and music?

It turns out, K-8 art and music classes can shape a child’s future, arming them with some necessary skills they’ll use the rest of their lives. Here are some statistics from Americans for the Arts:

  • Low-income students engaged in the arts are more than twice as likely to graduate college (37%) as their peers with no arts education (17%).
  • Students with low socioeconomic status but with high arts participation have only a four percent dropout rate—five times lower that students that don’t participate in art.
  • Students who take four years of arts and music classes average almost 100 points better on their SAT scores than students who take only one-half year or less.
  • Fifty percent of students with high arts involvement obtain gainful employment, 10 percent higher than those with low arts involvement.
  • Forty-four percent of students with high arts involvement earned an associate’s degree, 17 percent higher than those with low arts involvement.

The Benefits of Art

Why would something as enjoyable as art be so beneficial for kids? According to PBS Parents, art promotes

Motor Skills – Fine motor skills are difficult for young children to master. Happily, holding a paintbrush or scribbling with a crayon help develop skills which kids will later need for writing.

Language Development – Art requires a vocabulary that kids not involved in art take longer to acquire. Youngsters involved in art learn colors, shapes, actions, and descriptive words far earlier than their non-art counterparts.

Decision Making – Making decisions and choices when creating art carries over into other parts of life. The act of creating art requires problem-solving and critical-thinking skills, which non-art children may have a much harder time acquiring.

Visual Learning – Many forms of art require visual-spatial skills, which we all use every day. Art education teaches kids to use visual information and, if you look at phones, tablets, Instagram, Snapchat, or YouTube, kids with developed visual-spatial skills will be better equipped to navigate the world.

Inventiveness – Kids who are encouraged to express themselves artistically develop a sense of innovation and learn to think outside the box. Inventive and innovative thought is what keeps the world moving forward.

Improved Academic Performance – A study by Americans for the Arts shows that youngsters who participate in the arts are four times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement than those who are uninvolved in art.

The Benefits of Music

Music and art have similar benefits—increased motor skills, decision making, inventiveness, and improved academic performance—but music is also closely related to a child’s ability to excel in science and math.

When Albert Einstein was asked how he came up with the theory of relativity, he said, “The theory of relativity occurred to me by intuition, and music is the driving force behind this intuition. My parents had me study the violin from the time I was six. My new discovery is the result of musical perception.”

And music, which requires counting, rhythm, intervals, patterns, and symbols, is closely related to mathematics.

Like art, music has a wide range of benefits which enhances a child’s general education, social skills, and cognitive skills.

For parents in Tucson that would like to give their children the opportunity to create works of art, check out the Tucson Museum of Art, or this handy list of other art classes for kids. Tucson parents who would like to give their children access to music education, should remember Tucson Summer Music, which provides free lessons in June and July. If you’d like to increase your child’s interest in music by exposing them to music they’ll enjoy, try the Tucson Symphony Orchestra’s Just for Kids series.

For Phoenix parents, Raising Arizona Kids has a good list of kids’ classes, as does Toddler-Net which, despite its name, lists classes for all ages. Parents in Phoenix who would like to provide their child with a musical background can visit Rosie’s House or the Phoenix Conservatory of Music. Additionally, Phoenix Center for the Arts has a schedule of kid classes in art, music, theatre, and dance.

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