Too many times we hear arguments over why the arts should not play such a prominent role in today’s educational settings. However, if you start to break down what the benefits of the arts really are, you will notice that the skills and opportunities that an arts education provide are invaluable.
Creativity: This is probably the most popular thought when one thinks of benefits of art instruction and it is indeed important. All students have the ability to express themselves and their thinking and imagining through art. Artistic endeavors allow them to break outside common boundaries and push the limits of what can be done.
Manual Dexterity: One of the more important but less discussed benefits of art is the development of fine motor skills. Whether kids are holding paintbrushes, cutting pieces for a collage, playing an instrument or pinching a sewing needle, their fine motor skills are getting a workout. This enables them to more easily perform life skills such as writing and buttoning, among others.
Attention to Detail: By helping kids develop this important skill, not only does it improve their focus, but also makes them take the time to slow down and really concentrate on putting forth their best work. It helps to develop a critical eye where they are really thinking about what they are seeing and can then apply that knowledge into their own work. This attention to detail plays into other parts in the curriculum, such as science or social studies.
Multiple Learning Styles: There are too many different varieties of artistic endeavors to list them all but one of the biggest benefits of art activities is that they hit all learning styles. Whether students learn best by seeing, hearing, doing or a combination of those, the arts lend themselves to a wide variety of ways in which students can engage in ways they feel most comfortable as well as provide practice in those areas where they might need some more work.
Self-confidence: Engaging in artistic activities is a way to express yourself and it can increase self-confidence. There is really no right or wrong way to do art, as long as you are trying your best. The arts are an area where it is easy to give control of decision making over to the artists in order for them to practice this life-long skill.
Communication: While art seems like it is a highly individualized activity, there is an underlying thread of communication in each work of art. Whether that is giving or getting feedback on a project or working together to create a collaborative project – like the painting of a set for a play – art lends itself to providing opportunities to communicate. Art can also speak without words and can transcend language and culture barriers to reach the viewer through more powerful ways than spoken or written communication alone.
Growth Mindset: When creating, one must entertain a growth mindset to handle the inevitable challenges that arise. Whether that being you don’t have the paint color you need, to having trouble getting what you see in your mind onto the paper, determination and a positive attitude will help in achieving the goal. The arts provide opportunities to tackle challenges head-on and think of ways and strategies to solve problems.