STEAM: The Importance of Arts Education
When we think of school and learning, the first things that may come to mind are subjects such as math, science and reading, without an emphasis on art or music class. While the components of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) learning are vitally important, studies show that adding the “A” for Art (STEAM learning) enhances and strengthens learning across the curriculum. From drawing to performing arts to music, arts education builds children’s language and communication skills, fine motor coordination, behavioral development and problem-solving skills. Here’s how arts education…
- Enhances Decision-Making: According to the Americans for Arts Organization, art in school strengthens a child’s ability to make choices and facilitates better decision-making. Empowering children with creative choices in art can help them become more creative in problem-solving with peers and adults. These creative decision-making skills can be useful in other school subjects, enhancing students’ critical thinking.
- Builds Language: Art and music improve children’s language and cognitive skills, as well. According to the National Association for Music Education, music helps develop and train the left side of the brain, which is responsible for language and reasoning. Musical activities for infants, toddlers and preschoolers — and beyond — enhance listening skills, aid in the recognition of patterns and contribute to language development. Working on art projects and exploring colors, shapes, textures and patterns can introduce vocabulary through experiential learning. Through art and music, children build confidence and develop a stronger understanding of their own creativity and power to express themselves creatively.
- Develops Motor Skills: If you have ever let a toddler bang on a pot with a spoon or scribble lines on an old paper bag with a pen, you are helping that child develop coordination and build gross and fine motor skills that help with handwriting and other skills. As children practice clapping along to music, playing simple instruments, using a piece of chalk or paintbrush, molding clay, dancing or trying any other arts activity, they are strengthening hand-eye and gross motor coordination.
- Offers Stress Relief: Studies show that creating art reduces stress and helps both children and adults feel calmer. Becoming involved in an art, music or dance project can help children become more mindful, and actually reduces the amount of cortisol, a stress hormone in the body.
- Aids Self-Discipline: Art provides real proof that practice makes perfect. Being able to do something well — from writing a letter to singing a song — is a function of doing it repeatedly. Not only is the creative expression of making art fun for children, it can teach the satisfaction of sticking with something in order to get better at it. Becoming disciplined when working on something artistic can carry over into other school subjects and positively affect the way children approach their work.